Monday, July 8, 2013

Trills, thrills at a Cecile Licad concert

Superlative adjectives have all been lavished on her after every performance. I sometimes think a new word needs to be coined, one reflective of her brilliance, excellence and greatness, plus her down-to-earth ways.  

I am writing, of course, about The Pianist's Pianist Cecile Licad who my family knows I adore and whose concerts and recitals I try very hard not to miss, even if they take me as far as Tuguegarao, Cagayan. Such is the adoration that I have become a proselytizer of her religion of music. And I've won converts, among them my niece Bianca, a piano student, and my sister Suzy, who sat on the floor of Glorietta Makati throughout Ms. Licad's appearance there last summer with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Our combined dread of Saturday afternoon traffic jams exacerbated by rain propelled us to be at the Cultural Center complex by 3:30 p.m. of June 29, although the concert proper wasn't until 8 p.m.We managed the lull by exercising the favorite Lolarga pastime of eating and sharing jokes at other family members' expense.

As expected, we were there to see the concert to the end, joining in the cheering and standing ovations until Ms. Licad obliged with three encores (the first was that soulful middle movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and the two others by Gottschalk, including "Manchega" that is such a skippity-happy tune).

As expected, too, we lined up for her autograph and souvenir photo (I hope the CCP management will continue this practice). Down to earth was she when she rose from her seat and said to us, "Tatayo na lang ako. Kanina pa ako nakaupo." So she signed our program and ticket standing up.

Lovely in green, Ms. Licad with fans Suzy Lolarga and Bianca Susi beaming beside her                          
On the way home, still high on Liszt and Licad, I texted music reviewer Pablo Tariman to thank him for reserving our family's tickets until I could raise the wherewithal for them from my freelance fees. I kidded that he could now call me "Tasso Totentanz." 

I wish to record these moments in June as well as a brief exchange of emails between Ms. Licad and me when she turned 51 last year. I sent photos of her taken by a friend and a video of conductor Zubin Mehta leading an orchestra through variations of "Happy Birthday" in the manner of the classical composers Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, to greet the Queen of Spain. What was highly unexpected was  getting this reply plus an attached photo.  

Hi Babeth,
Thank you so much for the pictures !! I was happy to see you in Manila, and as always thanks for coming to hear me play and appreciating what I enjoy most. Enclosed is a picture of me with Zubin Mehta when I was 21 years old (1981) in the back stage of Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center at my NY debut. All the best, Cecile



To me that short note confirmed why I hold her up to be the best, that once-in-a-lifetime kind of best.
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