Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There's something about turquoise

I'm typing as fast as I can so I don't miss a day of blogging on what is my busiest day of the week: Wednesday. Twenty-two notebooks of 22 high school kids await correcting and commenting.

But I'm giving a listen to the Tony Bennett-Amy Winehouse duet of "Body and Soul." Me being me, I being I, I'm singing along, imagining we're some trio.

Wanted to say, hey, take me away from all these, these being deadlines and things I've committed myself to and I can't squirm out of. (Don't be alarmed by my panic attacks. I truly love what I do.)

But then at this stage in my life, getaways are now imaginary. For the moment the Victoria's Secret e-poster will just be a goal thrown to the Universal Mind. In its own time, it will respond. I know it as sure as "I gladly surrender myself to you body and soul."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

O Bradley boy

Bradley Bascon performing live at the DZFE studio with assisting pianist Rudolf Golez. Young Bradley opens the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation's Young Artists Series 2014 on July 28, Monday, at 7 p.m. at the Ayala Museum Lobby.

FM radio station DZFE's Bert Robledo, who must have been the late environmental Odette Alcantar's punning partner in her Blue Ridge tertulia years, assured me after I turned up at the Far East Broadcasting Company's Ortigas Center Office that I needn't worry that I had left my camera at home. I brought everything I needed to cover his "Bravo Filipino" program at noon yesterday wherein his featured guest was Bradley Bascon who, at 14, is the most promising Fil-Am violinist.

Mang or Manong Bert, as I prefer to call him out of respect for his age (I don't have to disclose that, do I?), assured me that I had no cause to panic by pointing to his temple: "I have a photographic memory."

As I was giggling, he signaled to Daisy Jane Sande, programming assistant of 98.7 DZFE The Master's Touch, to take care of my photographic needs. And there was more assist coming from Angel Reyes-Nacino, Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation executive director who was also a guest, Ana Jacinta Trinidad (she'll hate it if I just say she's sports writer-poet Recah Trinidad's niece) and Bradley's lovely mama, Theresa Jallorina Bascon. They all volunteered to also take or share pics.

Ordinary miracles--these gestures are called.
The California-based violinist with his mom Tetch

Ana Jacinta Trinidad (right), who says she's named after her two grandmothers, takes a selfie with a new acquaintance.

From the get go, Mang Bert described Badley as displaying "a masterly artistry," putting him in the same league as Diomedes Saraza Jr., Regina Buenaventura and other young violinists with Philippine roots.

Bradley and Rudolf at the DZFE music studio in Bert Robledo's noontime program "Bravo Filipino"

Like most good musicians, Bradley is more expressive in his playing than in conversing, and he showed the masterly touch that Manong Bert is so proud of when he first heard the boy rehearsing before the show. He played, among others, John Williams' adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof, Ben Zubiri's "Matud Nila," a Cebuano melody whose title means "according to them." Earlier, before he went on air, Manong Bert, who used to sing in a choir with soprano Evelyn Mandac as soloist, threatened to sing the main character Tevye's part. But when it's time to be serious, he's as sober as a judge.

Of his musical family, Bradley said the genes come from both sides but especially from his Dad Conrad's. "We sing at parties. It gets really loud."

He doesn't consider himself a prodigy; he'd rather call himself as "more of a talent who needs more honing."

Bradley listens to his mother's reminder. Tetch, a St. Paul College alumna from kindergarten to college and still actively working as a freelance accountant, says she always tells him, "Be humble. No matter how talented you are, if you don't use your talent properly, God will take it away."

For his July 28 concert, his program is made up of compositions for the violin by Mozart, Winiawski, Monti, Kreisler and Saint-Saens.

Instant Bradley Bascon Admirers' Club. From left: kibitzing babushka, Ana Jacinta Trinidad, the teenage violinist who also excels in his academic subjects, Mang Bert Robledo, Rudolf Golez, Angel Reyes Nacino, Bradley's mom Tetch, his dad Conrad and a Jallorina aunt.

For tickets, call TicketWorld at 891-9999, the MCO Foundation at 750-0768 or 0920-954-0053.

Photos courtesy of Ana Jacinta Trinidad, Angel Reyes Nacino, Daisy Jane Sande and Theresa Jallorina Bascon

One couple's pearl jubilee

Happy Pearl Day, Mr. You Know Who You Are from Who Knows What You Are to Me

We must have asked ourselves many a time, not only in our respective thought balloons, what would it have been like if we didn't take the leap? But we did, and oh, how we did. It has been 30 years since we took our vows one evening at our Pasig neighborhood's parish church. He was 34; I had just turned 29.

When he and his guy pals get together, he still wins the contest of who of them married at a late age. Indeed, at 34, he was the oldest, perhaps in his sense of daring and adventure to offer his self's riches (strengths, weaknesses, humor, humorlessness but most of all his integrity as a person and a career journalist) to a shaky girl who was unsure, even today evidently, of her place in the sun. But they took the gamble anyway.

Who would have thought that our kind of unique loving would last with he there, me here? And we are very we in the couple sense despite our continuing tale of two cities. Okay, so it's a long, long-distance love affair, as the pop song in the '80s goes.

And since I'm singing today, let me sing (one of the songs sung at our 25th jubilee at the former location of Cafe Juanita in Kapitolyo, Pasig) "I'm Glad There Is You" by Paul Madeira and Jimmy Dorsey. I'm doing this using my best imitation of Sarah Vaughan as she recorded this with The Earl Rogers Choir (a capella) on April 4, 1948, in New York. As an aside, April 4 is the birthday of our grandchild Kai/Butones and Paula Carolina S. Malay, Armando J. Malay's spouse. Armando was Rolly Fernandez's choice as godfather at our wedding. Mine was Nieves B. Epistola whose birthday it was the other day.

I'm Glad There Is You

Said I many times, for others illusion,
A feeling, result of confusion.
With knowing smile and blase sigh,
A cynical so-and-so was I!
I feel so secure, so positive,
So utterly unchangingly certain,
That I never was aware of love anew,
Till suddenly I realised there was love and you,
And all;

In this world of ordinary people,
Extraordinary people,
I'm glad there is you.
In this world of overrated pleasures,
Of underrated treasures,
I'm glad there is you.

I live to love,
I love to live
With you beside me.
This road so new
I'll muddle through
With you to guide me.

In this world where many many play at love,
And hardly any stay in love,
I'm glad there is you.
More than ever,
I'm glad there is you.
(I'm glad there is you)

At their silver jubilee. Official photographer for the evening was the couple's kumare Anna Leah Sarabia who wrote in her Facebook caption: "if he could sing, it would be the way you look tonight. rolly was more clear-eyed, it seems, as our dear friend by then had had enough to make her smiling tipsy." To which another friend the three of us have in common, Pet Cleto, who's in Canada, responded: "the hazy borders are superlatively right for this image!"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Darling Mrs. E (and her SV)

Iconic: Nieves Benito Epistola and SV Espitola, professors who professed at the University of the Philippines and in the university of good living Photo from the UP Alumni Relations Archives

The following were remarks that I had read at the eulogy for Mrs. E in September 2002 at the Delaney Hall of the UP Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice.

It is Mrs. E's birthday today.


My Mrs. E

"Your UP education won't be complete unless you sign up in one of of Mrs. Epistola's classes." This was the advice my older first cousin, Henry Romero, gave when I was a college freshman. He had been Mrs. E's student in a GE subject.

There was a special light in his eyes when he talked about her. My curiosity grew when he told me that she loved the poems of e.e. cummings.

I heeded his suggestion and took Stylistics in 1975 as an elective under her. She was 49 years old then. I am 47 now. But at that time hers was a waistline to die for!

She dressed in what's called today as "smart casual," and when the occasion called for it, she could also be elegant in an Oleg Cassini frock. She cut a statuesque figure in front of the class. She walked briskly on and off campus, arms swinging freely. And she spoke in a distinctively resonant alto.

I could write a poem about her dimples along, how they danced and deepened when she was pleased with something, someone or some cat that brushed past her long, marble-white legs.

The following semester I just couldn't have enough of her so I audited her next Stylistics class. That was around the time she became more than a teacher. I found a patient friend with a gift of listening to my incoherent babblings.

Way before I had a boyfriend, before anyone was crazy enough to propose marriage to me, I had already asked her to be my ninang sa kasal. She said yes, even if she knew there was no guy in my life. In that sense, we were both optimists.

I once told Amadis Ma. Guerrero, my colleague and comrade in arts and letters, that Nieves and SV Epistola were the only couple who I considered an argument for the institution of marriage.

Amadis agreed, adding that Mrs. E was the perfect foil for SV, the great alaskador. SV would mask his affection for friends with a string of barbs and put-downs. With Mrs. E, there was no such mask.

Amadis, who she called Le Cheri Guerrier, and I benefited from her overflowing warmth and generosity. She wrote the introductions to our respective books. Speaking for myself, I honestly believe that her introduction outshone my 38 poems!

Mrs. E loved people. This love was returned in full measure, especially by her students, former students and the members of that lucky circle, her proteges.

Of her proteges, including those who aren't here like Lily Chua O'Connor and Gigi Dueñas de Beaupre, Mrs. E said last year, with Frankie and Tessie Jose as witnesses in her room at the Philippine General Hospital: "I made free spirits out of them!"

Unmindful of the intravenous drip attached to her, she declared this with her head proudly tilted back, her chin up.

Yes, she was generous with her time and material resources. She never gave things away piecemeal. I remember she gave me not just a bundle of cherries but a big big bag of moist, succulent cherries.

Last Christmas, she gave me not just a pair of earring but 10 pairs of dangling earrings. I would like to assure her surviving sisters, nieces and grand-nieces that those earrings are fancy and won't get anything at the nearest pawnshop.

More than the earrings, I treasure the note that came with it. She wrote: "Here's a Christmas pamana for you, Babeth. You can't imagine ever how much you've made me feel so blessed and full of grace."

Well, Mrs. E, the feeling is mutual.

She always signed these little notes with a smiley face after her initials. Those notes were poems in themselves. Language, after all, was her favorite tool and toy.

I still keep in an old diary another note from her that she wrote when my hair was longer, and I just had it curled. Her message ran: "Now that your hair is a folded flower, the quiet of peace is in your feet."

She did everything well. She cooked well, taught extremely well, praised well, even criticized well. She dissected one of my early short stories, found it wanting and told me point by point how I could revise it. (Note: The short story was published 10 years after she had written her marginal notes and I had found the time to revise it. It was published in two installments in the Weekly Mirror Magazine when Emmie Velarde was its editor and Nick Joaquin, its literary editor.)

Ang sarap-sarap talaga magmahal ni Mrs. E!

And I truly feel the loss of SV, Odette, Arline, the rest of the sisters, Citas Diaz and other in-laws, nieces and nephews on both the Benito and Epistola sides. Your loss equals ours, if that is consolation enough.

To quote from Shakespeare, "Whence comes another?"

Not in this lifetime!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I have to turn myself around

Missing my hokey pokey partners now that I can't do that dance because for some reason my mind still can, but my body can no longer. But I pray it's a temporary condition, and it too shall pass. Here's to the Hokie Pokies in our lives. Two playful cousins are seated on a bench at the open public space of Capitol Commons, Pasig City. Photo of Kai and Max by their Booboo Babeth

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Needled and pierced

What's wrong with this woman? Let me rephrase that. What's right with her? She's obviously still mobile, but she doesn't get around much anymore. She can still smile and exude a few good vibes, sing a few notes when in the mood. Do you now see those acupuncture needles protruding from her left ear? Lory Paredes placed them there, left them in crucial spots that stand for the kidney, liver, lungs. These needles open the spirit gate. They release, or more or less ease, blockages to allow the chi to flow. The kidney is where fears are stored; the liver, anger; and the lungs, the sense of loss, the grieving that can make it hard for singers to sing (or writers to write but that's just this woman's Doctor Quack Quack side).

What make the aches, although they're just dull, throbbing aches, of the aging person tolerable are friends of friends who share one's wavelength and offer help without prying into the details of one's personal life (or health). Here is Gou de Jesus's pal, singer-songwriter Skarlet (left, kissing a pleased 59-year-old woman so looking forward to turning 60 so she can avail, finally, of senior citizen discounts). Skarlet is the main woman working behind the scenes of Yakap Musikero and similar projects that look after the health and general well-being of freelance musicians. The needled woman asked if she could be adopted as a fading soprano. She'll write about Skarlet y compania in some other forum beyond this blog. All together now, let's rise to sing "Good Vibrations." Photos taken at the Unilab Mandaluyong hall by Ernesto V. Enrique, also known as Tats to his students

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rishab's deliriously colorful musings

"Waves of Time" by Rishab Tibon, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet x 4 feet, is on view along with 16 other works at Art Elements Asian Gallery, third level of SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City of Taguig. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Detail from "Waves of Time"

Visual artist Rishab, whose legal name is Roger Tibon, keeps his head low, whether in his home and studio in Baguio or in Metro Manila. Already he has made waves in the international art circle with Korea inviting him for long fellowships along with Taiwan.

Two of his works, "Shrouded Frida" and "Frida with Thorn Necklace," are part of an international commemorative exhibition honoring the great Mexican painter at Chimmaya Gallery on Beverly blvd., Los Angeles, California. He is the only Filipino artist invited to show his interpretations of the life of Frida Kahlo at that venue, and his works will also be included in a book on the same subject.

"Shrouded Frida," acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 inches, 2013. Photos of Frida Kahlo paintings courtesy of the artist

"Frida With Thorn Necklace"

Rishab outside Art Elements where his paintings are up until July 21

For his 10th solo show in his homeland, Rishab, 54, who prefers to be known by just his chosen name a la Prince, has moved away from his Dali and Magritte phase since he has always loved the surrealists. He comes into his own with images of women, children, toys, even an appropriation from the work of master printmaker Hokusai in "Waves of Time."

He said, "I'm not dark and macabre anymore. I'm happier. I can't say I like social realism--sa dami ng mga problema natin, gagayahim ko pa ba yung mga problema?

"Morning Glory," acrylic on canvas, 4 feet x 4 feet

"Bubble Dreams," acylic on canvas, 2 x 1.5 feet

"Renga," acrylic on canvas, 3 feet x 2 feet

There are no male figures in his paintings. The painter prefers to paint women as his subjects because "they're pleasing to the eyes, their bodies softer. I also like to depict hair on their heads--graceful ang dating."

Also a poet and installation artist, Rishab chose the exhibit title "Musings" to reflect his daydreams and his own treasure trove of small toys. He likes to visit Baguio's ukay-ukay stores to buy these. He said, "Like any child, I have a box of treasures. The toys become my inspiration."

"Joyride," acrylic on canvas, 3 feet x 2 feet

He does no preliminary sketches and paints directly on the canvas. He uses acrylic paint instead of oil because the medium dries fast, and it can achieve the effects of oil. Also, acrylic works are easier to clean and have no scent. A vegetarian for most of his life, Rishab is allergic to oil's fumes. He used to do resin casting, too, for his installations, but he has stopped because of allergies. Instead, he works with natural materials like tree branches, paper made from the pith tree or found objects from junk shops.

Two years ago, he was chosen for the Yatoo Art in Residency Project in Wongol, Chungnam-do in Korea. He did interactive drawings with his viewers plus a metal sculpture measuring nine meters high. It had three sides piled with bicycle wheels and an airplane propeller that turned round and round when the wind blew. All these materials he found in various junk shops in the area. He had no assistants in assembling the work, except for someone who cut the aluminum propeller. Even the welding he did himself at the height of winter. A crane brought the finished sculpture to the exhibit site.

His works have found their way in international art fairs in Hongkong, Singapore, Taiwan and New York City.

Of his favorite artist Frida Kahlo, he said, "I admire her self-suffering, her stoicism and passion for creating art despite her disability. When I was bedridden with a serious kind of flu, I couldn't paint, I was collapsing. My landlady took pity and cooked all my meals. But Frida was able to paint. Her kind of surrealism influenced me much. I consider her the Queen of Painting." - Elizabeth Lolarga
"Treasures," acrylic on canvas, 3 feet x 2 feet

"Timeless Sonata," acrylic on canvas, 3 feet by 2 feet, with Baguio multi-artist Solana Perez as the face of the woman

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Classical music singers who work their butts off and like it

Viva Voce, which is made up of members who are soloists in their own right, will have a repeat performance of "Complicated the Concert" on July 19 at 2 p.m. at the Lopez Museum and Library, Benpres bldg., Exchange road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Photo by Babeth Lolarga

With Typhoon Glenda veering away from the country after exacting another round of damage to life and property and with the storm signal down, the show must go on for Viva Voce's "Complicated the Concert." This is a repeat performance of an earlier acclaimed concert of patriotic hymns and more lamentations in song form, all inspired by the museum's permanent exhibition and current ones of visual and performing artists Leslie de Chavez, Mike Adrao and Ea Torrado.

Led by soprano and voice professor Camille Lopez Molina, who is also the group's accompanist, Viva Voce originated as an intensive summer voice workshop intended to provide young classical singers with a venue where they could master their craft.

Lopez Molina said, "It was designed to help them conquer the challenges of performing as soloists. The first Viva Voce workshop was held in 2010, the last in 2012. From there we have evolved into a performing group of singers. The group is just a temporary haven to help iron out vocal performance problems of each individual. It's a sort of halfway house between being a student and a professional. We teach these kids not just how to sing and perform but also to give them a heads up on the business side of the profession, the ethics, the risks, the requirements."

Viva Voce was also a good reason to go up to Baguio. Their head said, "Gawa tayo ng gimik para maka-stay sa Baguio ng matagal-tagal sa summer!"

The first batch of facilitators in 2010 were tenors John Glenn Gaerlan and Randy Gilongo, Pablo Molina (Camille's husband and also a singer) and she. Their pianists were Peter Porticos and Camille's mother, Dr. Myrna Lopez.
Viva Voce founder Camille Lopez Molina Photo from her Facebook profile

Lopez Molina had already attended many voice workshops in the US and Canada. Being a natural teacher, she thought she could combine and adapt the formats she learned abroad "to suit our resources and our participants' needs."

In the second batch of facilitators were soprano Rica Nepomuceno, pianist Najib Ismail and actor Nonie Buencamino. The 2012 workshop was a dream come true with such luminaries as tenor Arthur Espiritu, soprano and professor Irma Potenciano and Dr. Jonathan Malicsi as facilitators. The workshop content included singing diction sessions, text analysis, interpretation sessions and career talks.

Their Baguio summers weren't all sight-seeing and sleeping till noon. Activities lined up daily were physical exercises for stretching, breathing and support, and muscular coordination, vocalizations, games, individual lessons, masterclasses and recitals.

Lopez Molina continued, "We were lucky that Glenn found good venues for us to use, particularly the Convent of the Holy Spirit on Pacdal Road. The place is far from the noise of the city center. There is a hilltop on the property where we would have morning exercises in the open. It's a strenuous climb, it was a challenge to drag ourselves up there every morning, but the effort was so worth it."

Excellence is one of Viva Voce's guiding principles, if not THE guiding principle. It is, as the founder put it, "the only way you can make a living from classical singing. Your attitude reflects your artistry, and artistry is what you can sell, not just your talent. There are a lot of really talented people who can't break into this field because of an attitude of mediocrity. Puwede na just doesn't cut it. You have to be the best person for the job. That means working your butt off to master your instrument and learn your craft."

She described excellence as a quality that "challenges you, keeps your artistry fresh and gets you noticed. Anybody can sing classically or operatically, but not anybody can actually be a classical or an opera singer. Excellence means you don't make a distinction between 'Philippine standards' and world-class. And it's more fun when you have others with you learning the same things."

Technically, Viva Voce isn't a chorus or a choir. Lopez Molina explained, "Viva Voce is composed of soloists who sing as an ensemble, which includes chorus work in operas, oratorios and masses. But the thrust is different. The focus of a choir is the sound of the whole group, to sound as one. An ensemble puts more emphasis on individuals performing together and finding a common musical 'groove' or vibe but with each person's sound still clearly defined."

To prepare for "Complicated the Concert," what the Viva Voce members did, upon the invitation of Lopez Museum consultant Ricky Francisco (who joined the 2012 Baguio workshop), was to view the art works. He explained everything to them from the concept of the entire exhibit to each artist's work's significance and intention.

Then the group put their heads together on how they could somehow incorporate or weave the works in the songs. This led to the use the slides and subtitling since they already have a projector and floor-to-ceiling screen installed.

Lopez Molina recalled the process of selecting their program repertoire: "I let the art works guide us. We took each work literally, asking ourselves, 'What do you see?' We chose each number in the repertoire literally like what is the song saying? From there I chose real-life photographs that are relevant to both painting and song. These connected us to the real and present world. This process made me see much more behind the text of the songs and the visual content of the art works. I realized how intertwined our individual identities and our psyche as a nation are to our nation's history."

Asked if the meaning of plaintive love songs could also be expanded to the idea of bayang inaapi, she nodded vigorously, saying, "Definitely!" - Elizabeth Lolarga

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Simply Mozart in a night to remember

Following Maestro Oscar Yatco’s recent demise is the death of Lorin Maazel. Together with the New York Philharmonic, conductor Maazel visited the Philippines in 2002, the two-night concerts at the Cultural Center of the Philippines ending always to thunderous applause and ovations.

But the classical music world has a long tradition of maintaining a wide bench of talents, even geniuses. They’re already way beyond and above understudy stage, more than ready to replace what seem like irreplaceable losses. Maestro Darrell Ang, who led the Manila Symphony Orchestr (MSO) in Friday night’s “Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival,” is one such man.

Stellar tandem: Tenor Arthur Espiritu and Maestro Darrell Ang Photos by Anna Leah Sarabia

Cutting an elegant figure in his tux and tails, he possessed graceful arms and hands that also had an authority in them, allowing him to bring out the heroism, even manliness (feminists may quarrel with this), innate in Beethoven’s Eroica (Symphony No. 3 in F-Major, Op. 93). It’s a misunderstood work in the context of the composer’s time—was he really pro- or anti-Bonaparte?

Gina Medina-Perez, first violinist -concertmaster, recalled how the MSO members, within weeks of each other, learned from two guest conductors (Ang and Thanos Adamopulous previously).

She praised the two for their musical expertise and intensity. “Both demanded professionalism and commitment, but they don’t tell that to you. During rehearsals they don’t give sermons or throw tantrums if the music doesn’t work the way they want it. You want to be excellent because they’re excellent. You try your best so you can keep up. It’s interesting how good musicians just focus on music making and being faithful to the score. Thanos and Darrell are the easiest to work with. They know what to do and focus on achieving that.”

She added that like Adamopulous, Ang “knows the music very well and interprets it according to what he thinks the composer wants. Their interpretation of Eroica is very different, but both fulfill the composer’s intention. It’s pure magic to experience this kind of music making.”

Since the program mainly focused on Mozart’s works that are rarely, if never, heard played or sung live, Perez-Medina remarked on the challenge she and the MSO faced: “We only had four rehearsals with Ang. He focused on bringing us to the level nearest to what he wanted. We gave our best. Preparing for that concert required teamwork. It wasn’t a one-man job.”

What the orchestra members did was place their trust on Ang and on one another, including tenor Arthur Espiritu and pianist Cristine Coyiuto, whose niche could now be said to be Mozart concertos.

Ms. Coyiuto sparkling in her Roy Paras gown

Medina-Perez said, “That was the only way we could have a solid performance. During the performance, we let each other shine. Ultimately, the one who should shine is not the MSO, the conductor or the soloists but the music itself. We are mere instruments, conduits of a greater work—music.”

Singaporean Ang helped the cash-strapped Manila Chamber Orchestra (MCO) Foundation in marketing the concert. The auditorium of the Philippine Stock Exchange, renamed Juan Antonio Lanuza Hall after a music critic-patron, was standing room only, with some early ticket buyers held up in the Friday night rain and traffic.

Ang, who donated his fee to the foundation and to Habitat for Humanity’s building of new houses for supertyphoon Yolanda suvivors, posted short notes in his Facebook page alongside photos of himself, with the soloists and with the MSO. Of the MSO he predicted it was “set to regain its footing as the nation’s top orchestra!”

He described Espiritu as “a superb Filipino tenor whose beautiful take on two Mozart arias is definitely worth the price of the ticket alone!” Espiritu is back in the country after his latest triumph in the role of Fernando in the Donizetti opera La Favorita at the St. Gallen Festival in Switzerland. At the technical rehearsal at Ortigas Center venue, he noted how the supra-cold air-conditioning dried up the air to a point where he couldn’t hear his own voice.


Nonetheless, his interpretation of the arias “Misero, O Sogno, o son desto?” in the first part of the changed program and “Se vuoi che te racccolgano,” the last Mozart aria for the evening, showed his capability to transcend physical obstacles and emerge more triumphant than an Everest climber.

After the concert, he said, “I tried to be as positive as I can be. It was a dry hall, filled with carpet, even the stage is carpeted. Knowing that Lanuza Hall can have the potential for a great concert hall, it should be easy to revitalize it. I was happy to perform. Knowing that I am contributing to the foundation is a good enough feeling.”

It’s almost SOP for a Filipino audience to expect an encore, especially from Espiritu. He said, “We discussed the possibility after the last aria, but alas my vocal condition made it hard to sing one more. I had a cold, was having dry coughs at the time. I didn’t want to risk losing my voice.”

He must surely be within the radar of a local recording company or a body like the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. He wants to record Filipino composers’, especially kundiman writers’, works.

He said, “I am hoping to collaborate with recording labels and maybe do a recording. I have never been approached so I’m open to it.” Someone heed him quick because European opera houses are already grabbing him and about to spirit him away.

Angel Reyes-Nacino, MCO Foundation executive director, was gladdened by the audience turnout and response. “We hope we still have funds and have a change in the mindset of sponsors for the classical arts. We don’t recover from our concerts.”

Concerning the auditorium’s renovation to make it more concert-worthy, she said, “We haven’t sat down with the Lanuza family to find out their plans. I’m sure we’ll get help from above. Mr. Lanuza is guiding, praying for us from up there.”

Medina-Perez agreed, “It is a good-sized hall. The carpets need to go. That will make a big difference. A proper dressing room would be nice.” - Elizabeth Lolarga

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Martin Masadao knits, among his many talents

One of the first knitted accessories that Martin made. I was its proud owner after I received it from Rolly Fernandez's Express Service.

I write this as Typhoon Glenda is swirling above the sea/ocean and readying to hit land. So before the power goes down, I'd just like to give Brookside Baby's space to independent scriptwriter-director Martin Masadao who is adding another hyphen to his description soon, and that is indie film producer. He wrote and directed Anac Ti Pating which won for best film and best actor awards in the 2012 Sineng Pambansa festival.

He recently sent an email to select friends about his innovative way of raising funds for his next film project. The big-hearted Martin is also setting aside an amount for the super-typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation cause.

Like I always say in past blogs, artists are great philanthropists. They will respond with a generosity that no Henry Sy or John Gokongwei or coño millionaire or society matrons with Botoxed faces can ever match. And artists do so without strings (or in this case, yarn) attached. The good artists can be counted upon to sacrifice their total beings for a heavenly cause.

He knitted me a cobalt, or is it electric, blue accessory that I wore around my throat on two consecutive occasions: the opening of Gilda Cordero Fernando's painting exhibit at Silverlens Galleries last week and the Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival at the Philippine Stock Exchange auditorium (renamed Lanuza Hall) just this past Friday. Enough people saw it--the kind of crowd Martin wanted to catch.

With Jacqui Magno, who sang "Hindi Kita Malimot" and "Bridges" at GCF's opening program, manager Anna Ylagan and writer and editors' editor Lorna Kalaw Tirol

Karla Delgado (right), my former editor and a Baguio resident in her childhood, points to a Martina Knittera creation. Photo by Rolly Fernandez

One of my fave shots from that Silverlens evening. This one's with artist Robert Alejandro, all covered in black, his "daring" costume. Photo by Wendy Regalado

Arthur Espiritu holds up his hand-me-down "throat protector" given by the self-proclaimed presidentita of the Arthur Espiritu Fan Club of the Philippines, Northern Luzon chapter. Note his wedding band. Photo by Rolly Fernandez

I told Martin that I couldn't resist bequeathing the piece to Arthur Espiritu who leaves the country again for a six-month engagement in European opera houses (he's on contract there). He has always protected his throat from the cold, whether the cold of faulty air-conditioning or the bitter cold of winter. His soaring tenor is his means of livelihood, after all.

Once he got hold of the neck piece, he called his wife Christine from below the stage to safe-keep it. Arthur also emailed, thankful for the accessory.

He wrote:

Thanks so much again for that memento. I hope that Martin reaches his goals in raising funds. Please extend my warmest thanks and regards.

All the best,

I promptly forwarded the note to Martin. See? That's what I like about our cultural ambassadors of goodwill. May breeding sila. The great ones never ever exhibit a sense of entitlement.

Mabuhay ka, Martin! Long may Martina Knittera live!

For orders of knitwear or knitted accessories, please look for Mr. Masadao in Google+, the more subdued social media platform (no offense to Facebookers).


Dear Friends!

Greetings! Hope all is well with all of you! :-)

I am going to write a script come September, full-length feature film, which means I will be holed up in Baguio City come July.

While writing, I am planning to use the time as well to knit. I figured I will have all the 'free' time and knitting will help me while thinking in front of the pc.

Here's the deal, if you guys have any old sweaters/knit wear (crocheted items will also do) that somehow you can't seem to get let go of or perhaps are attached to but no longer use because probably they're out of style? Send them to me and I will make tastas the yarn and fashion something 'new' out of it! :-)

Perhaps a cowl, shawl, vest, muffler, scarf, purse, bag, whatever!? Design will depend on color and type of yarn. I will personally hand knit the item. I'm thinking of charging 750 pesos, 500 to cover my labor and 250 to be donated to 'Threads For Life'*.

Rest assured that whatever I make for you will not be replicated for others. Sana you can take a 'before' pic of the item you will give me then we take another 'after' pic of whatever I will knit. I will maximize yarn of your pre-loved sweaters, ergo, you will not get only one item. (I can knit coasters, placemats, iphone case, etc. from leftover yarn).

Payment will be asked on delivery of knitted product. Let me know if you guys are game! Tulong nyo na yan sa akin. (500 will most probably go to cigarettes and beer! While writing manuscript! Haha!)

For those in Baguio, you may drop off your sweaters at Rm. 209 Laperal Bldg. Session Rd. Mon - Fri from 9am to 5pm and Sat fr 9am to 11am. For those in Manila, let me know via text or email when and where to pick up your sweaters.

Thanks very much. If you'd be satisfied with end product I would appreciate endorsement to your friends via word-of-mouth.

I think they would make personalized Xmas gifts, dont you think so?! :-)

Best Regards,

Martina Knittera!


Threads For Life is a fund-raising initiative of our dear friend Marta for Yolanda effort. TFL sells pre-loved clothes, shoes, bags etc and all proceeds go to Yolanda. The 250 from the knitting project I will donate to Yolanda as well. :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My incredible week in review

Waya Araos-Wijangco, Jerry and Melen's eldest daughter, with her niece and everyone's fave little girl, the sociable Amarra Araos Encabo

Old ties renewed: Host Doc Melen, writer Gemma Corotan-Kolb stand behind Nympha Saño, who Odette Alcantara used to call "Nymphette", and a blogger who has adopted the babushka look (coming soon, when her budget finally allows, peasant blouses)

The week of July 7 to 10 will be recorded in great detail in my personal diary as a very full one--the jingle lang ang pahinga kind of week that has taken a toll on a bum knee. The Sunday began with a visit to the Araos family, a hi and a ho to remember Jerry by. He would've been 70, a milestone year.

While I was there, Melen and youngest son Julian brought out some bubble-wrapped paintings that are bound for Florida, the US of A (not Florida Bus Lines). These were gifts to Jerry when he was hale, hearty and the biggest "encourager", after my husband Rolly, when I returned to art school. He saw to it that I would exhibit with his art guild Salakai in one of the biggest simultaneous art show events at the old SM Megamall Art Walk in May 2007 (them were the days when the SM chain of malls still had a veneer of credibility). These works haven't been exhibited; they were personal gifts to JVA's family. Now Jerry and Melen's youngest daughter Mira, who's infanticipating, will hang them in her nursery.

It just occurred to me now that these works remain untitled. So, Mira, it is with extreme pleasure that I give them the "names" they need for after all, they are the babies of my mind, heart and hands. Dear Mira, these are all the "authentication papers" you'll need.

"C Is for Crabs, C Is for the Cancer-borns" (Jerry, Mira and I are all born under the zodiac sign of Cancer.)

"Tea Time for Stones and Two Jars"

"Cubes, Ovals and a Ripe Orange"

After Jerry died, Melen said when she met my grand-daughter again two years after she delivered Kai/Butones that she hoped Amarra and Kai would become friends. This is to continue the deep ties of the Araoses and Lolargas--what Jerry had written in the past about how our families are intertwined. But due to geographical reasons, it may be Amarra and my grand-niece Machiko Skye Lolarga Susi (right) who'll hit it off. Max, as the family calls her, is, like Amarra, an Antipolo resident.

Monday, the seventh of July, was Maestro Darrell Ang day. When he arrived at NAIA the day before, Joseph Uy, consultant of the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation, who was there to welcome him, texted immediately: "Ma'am, Darrell is now here. He's gorgeous. You'll like him."

I texted back: "Baka naman himatayin ako!"

Joseph: "Don't worry, Ma'am, I'll catch you."

That's what I love about Joseph. He has this deadpan humor, and he doesn't add cheesy smiley emoticons on his messages the way I always do.

I had to give up a ladies' lunch (postponed for the nth time) for this coverage for Vera Files. I always am thankful for good, kind cab drivers, even the talkative ones, who bring me to my destination and back to the house without incident. I can't tip them anymore, but if there's an anti-hypoglycemia pack of sugar-free anything (mints, candies, cookies), this goes to the driver of the moment. Better than a tip because their faces light up when they say: "Mommy, solved na merienda ko." With the babushka look, they initially speak in English and ask from what country I am. Naks! I'm inclined to say Greece or Ukraine, but I don't want the discussion to get political and complicated so I quickly confess I'm Pinay and I have a pangit haircut to hide which is true. The barber (yes, barbers are cheaper than salon hair stylists) is still alive, by the way.

Group shot around Maestro Ang (seated second from right between classical music blogger Andrian Lontoc and a babushka) at the Makati Sports Club. Others in photo are Jasmine Cruz (bending left) of BusinessWorld, Baltazar Endriga, chairman of the board of the MCO Foundation, Ellen Tordesillas of VERA Files, Malaya and Abante, and Allan Pastrana, contributing writer of Philippine Daily Inquirer and a teacher at Miriam College. I told Mr. Endriga it must be nice to called Chairman of the Board like Frank Sinatra. His quick reply: "But he was Sinatra, and his friends in the Rat Pack were all millionaires! I'm not."

Tuesday I filed my story only to learn that the Vera Files site had been spammed and hacked.

Wednesday was teaching day--the first time I went to school accompanied by a yaya, my mom's. Never, not even in my nursery and kindergarten years, was I ever accompanied by a yaya to school. But this time, someone had to help me carry my students' notebooks (the equivalent of theme notebooks in my high school years), other teaching materials, my umbrella and backpack of personal stuff.

Should I also be grateful for over-frank students who ask for my exact age, what the matter was with me and if I'll be due for retirement soon because of disability? One asked, "If you're sixty by next year, will you have to go? And if you do, will they dissolve CW (creative writing)?"

My answer was diplomatic: "When the time comes for me to leave school, someone will take over. No one is indispensable in any organization."

Thursday, oh my! It was La Gilda Day, her vernissage at Silverlens Galleries in Makati, but I'll reserve a full-length account of that wild evening for another outlet. I wanna share this precious pic of funny girl Chit Roces Santos who's always Not Quite There and her babushka pal. I asked what did she come as. She said, "Masahistang bulag!" We sat together for a bit by the registration table at the entrance, and I said, "If people ask, you're my caregiver. Class ako ngayon--tisay ang yaya ko!"

Chit and blogger

Don't even talk of Friday because from the moment I woke up with my husband by my side (a rarity when I'm in Manila), I was in a go-go-go mood. His idea of a treat was to cover all meals in one blow--yes, a luncheon buffet that started at 11:30 a.m., ended at 2 p.m., 15 minutes before all the stations closed. He seemed insatiable and steadily ate through plates of sushi, sashimi, chorizos, three flavors of green ice cream, halo-halo with just the sangkap, not the ice and milk, buko pandan, mango sago, all downed with beer. I was waiting for him to turn comatose before my eyes, but it was I who got sleepy from just two plates of sushi.

What woke me up was when the waiters started singing table to table where a birthday celebrator was seated. They were a threesome: guitarist, a maracas and a tambourine player. One of them carried a portable sound system. I envied the tables that had a celebrator each so when our neighbors enjoyed the birthday song plus another pop hit, I asked if anniversaries were counted (our 30th was coming up in a few days). Yup, they "performed" anniversaries, too. A waiter proceeded to fetch this huge tarpaulin with "Happy Anniversary" writ large. When the singing started, I felt an instant shot of adrenalin. It was my cue to rise with my cane, sit on Rolly's left leg and do a lap dance. Guess who walked with a limp after? And the song we were serenaded with? "Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko!"

Old couple marking their Pearl Anniversary with a cheerful photo bomber behind them. I'm pretty sure that if I die ahead of him, Rolly will miss me acutely because of moments like this one and thus forgive my past transgressions.

Hubby and I capped date night at the Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival. Knowing what a screeching, shameless fan girl I am when the gods and goddesses descend from Music's Olympus, Rolly kindly took my photo by the grand piano with an Adonis, Maestro Darrell Ang.

As if all those activities weren't enough, I met some of my CW students yesterday, a Saturday afternoon, at the entrance of the Ayala Museum for a field trip. They not only visited the permanent diorama and the Fernando Zobel retrospective, they were present for Dr. May Jurilla's lecture-presentation on "Romancing the Book." My instruction to the kids was to listen well so they could ask one well thought out question each. In the end, only three overcame their shyness to raise their hands during the open forum.
One, two, three: Hashtag Ayala Museum!

Photos by Angel Reyes Nacino, Babeth and Suzy Lolarga, Maite de la Rosa, Rolly Fernandez and others like another restaurant customer

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For love of Mozart and all things good and fine

Old woodblock print of the young Mozart

Artists (writers, musicians, painter, sculptors, multi-media artists) can still learn from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart even centuries after he left this world at a youthful 35 going on 36.

My choice Mozart quote is this: "I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings."

It has been a total pleasure interviewing for these past weeks and days the main headliners of "Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival" and even the cultural heroes who work in the background . The site has been down for the past 72 hours. My editor Ellen Tordesillas, whose own blog site suffered the same fate, explained that the site crashed from the weight of spam materials that had been loaded into it. In other words, it has been hacked. Meanwhile, the site and Ka Ellen's blog are under repair and temporarily unavailable. I'm praying they will both be up by this afternoon or tomorrow.

What's admirable about Ka Ellen is she's cool about it, like this is a risk the organization faces each time it takes on its various advocacies in stopping human trafficking, upholding the rights of persons with disability, among many.

Cristine Coyiuto just being herself

I asked pianist Cristine Coyiuto what her thoughts were on classical music development in this country, how fine music can be heard above the din of K-pop (that's Korean pop) or even Ph-pop. She said, "Young people should be exposed to classical music in this country. In Europe, attending classical concerts and operas are part of their daily lives. Here, I think the love for classical music can start right at home. It is just a matter of exposure. Parents can help their children by letting them listen to classical music or bringing them to concerts. At home, my husband turns on the stereo every morning, so our daughter was already well exposed to good music at a very young age. By the time Caitlin turned six, she had already been to a full-length ballet, symphonic concert, recital and opera."

It helped that her husband James had a music room built in their home. In this room hangs an oil painting done by Manolo Lozada, brother of the violinist Carmencita. He recalled that Lozada started painting the family portrait when Caitlin was 14 years old. Thre years later in 2008, the artist presented the work to the family as a gift from the artist. Caitlin at the time was learning how to play the cello as her third instrument (she began with piano followed by the flute).

Mr. Coyiuto said "We breathe music every day, whether it is coming from her piano, or from a CD that is playing, or from watching musical performances, especially operas during meal time." Of this painting, he said, "I chastised Manolo for including the slippers plus all the stuff underneath the piano! Plus I told him to add more hair on my head! He tried! He's such an honest painter!"

It's said that the arts are a jealous mistress or lover. For some living and practicing art sometimes exacts a toll on the family. But Cristine said otherwise: "My husband James, my daughter Caitlin and I share a common love and passion for music. The three of us are fully supportive of one another. James is an ardent musicophile who collects CDs and prints of the composers, and supports us in every way he can. In spite of a busy household, I always try to find time to work on my music. The best part is playing and performing with my flutist daughter. There seems to be a special bond or feeling between us whenever we perform together. That is why the critics dubbed us 'the mother-daughter musical tandem.'"

Of Singaporean conductor Darrell Ang with whom she will perform alongside the Manila Symphony Orchestra tomorrow night at the Philippine Stock Exchange auditorium, she said, "I have heard so many good things about him, and I certainly look forward to working with him."

Mostly Mozart is a fund-raising production of the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation to benefit its young artists' development program. A number of tickets are still available at the MCO Foundation with tel. no. 750-0768 or cell phone 0920-954-0053.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cecile Licad, venturesome explorer of lesser known piano works, back in home country


Photos of Cecile Licad courtesy of Pianos.Ph

Program and shared reviews of Ms. Licad's performances courtesy of Pablo Tariman

St. Benedict Chapel, Ayala West Grove Village
Silang, Cavite
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 6 p.m.

Edward MacDowell
Woodland Sketches, Op. 51

To a Wild Rose
Will o'the Wisp
At an old trysting place
From an Indian Lodge
To a Water Lily
From Uncle Remus
A Deserted Farm
By a Meadow Brook

Cecile Chaminade
Sonata in C minor, Op. 21
Allegro Appassionato

I n t e r m i s s i o n

Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Selected Pieces
Grand Scherzo, Op. 57
Ballade, Op. 85;
La Jota Aragonesa, Op. 14;
Manchega, Op. 38;
Souvenirs d’Andalousie, Op. 22

William Mason
Silver Spring, Op. 6

Leo Ornstein
Piano Sonata No. 4.
Moderato con moto

Cecile Licad delivers memorable intensity in adventurous Festival Miami program

By Richard Yates

Cecile Licad presented an original program of rarely heard Romantic music Sunday at Festival Miami.

Pianist Cecile Licad played with deep-seated intensity at her venturesome recital program Sunday afternoon at the University of Miami’s Gusman Hall in Coral Gables.

The Festival Miami program began with the set of Woodland Sketches, Op. 51 (1896), by Edward MacDowell. Licad portrayed the American imagery with a nimble technique and displayed her whimsical musical persona.

Ferruccio Busoni’s American Indian Diary (1915) was inspired by a former student who collected Native American music, and the Italian composer incorporated the native melodies into the music. Licad often used heavy pedaling, emphasizing the restless, blurred imagery in the music. The mixture of brusque, metallic low sounds with Chopin-like arabesques created a fantastic sound world—anything but the typical “folk music” setting.

The Sonata in C Minor, Op. 21 (1895) by Cécile Chaminade presents a truly Romantic spirit. Licad played the sweeping, forceful music with a hurried tempo, moving beyond a focus on the technique to present an emphatic, persuasive statement.

A set of five different pieces by the nineteenth-century American-Brazilian composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk included the Grand Scherzo,Op. 57; Ballade No. 6, Op. 85; La Jota Aragonesa (Caprice Espagnol), Op. 14; Manchega, étude de concert, Op. 38; and Souvenirs d’Andalousie, Op. 22.

This sampling highlighted Gottschalk’s synthesis of European tradition with North and South American music. Stride piano parts merge with South American rhythmic syncopations and high Romantic piano literature. Souvenirs d’Andalousie was a particular standout, with Licad’s light-hearted spirit coming through in these playful sketches of the Spanish region.

William Mason’s Silver Spring, Op. 6 was an exquisite technical showpiece for Licad. She emphasized the intricacy of the hand-over-hand passages, and her playing in the extensive upper reaches of the instrument was equally polished.

Licad’s performance of Leo Ornstein’s Piano Sonata No. 4 (1918) was undoubtedly the highlight of the afternoon. Ornstein, famous in the early twentieth-century for character works such as Wild Men’s Dance and Suicide in an Airplane, had a reputation of over-reaching the threshold for acceptable limits of performance.

This fierceness, on the verge of savagery, was precisely what made him immensely popular. The sheer volume of sound, as a mammoth enlargement of Debussyian harmonic language and fin de siècle chromaticism, is what gives works like the Fourth Sonata an almost cataclysmic effect.

Licad’s wielding of the overloaded harmonies, the mystical Scriabin-like tonal wanderings, and the overwhelming pathos that pervades the work, was nothing short of virtuosic. She rose to the challenge of the final movement’s jarring montage of former themes in the sonata.

The almost bebop-like presentation in this movement was wrought with the sort of improvisatory freshness that gives Ornstein’s works such an original sound. Licad pushed through the macabre material at a breakneck pace, eliciting the feeling of utter desperation. Licad’s performance of the Ornstein sonata stood as a passionate testament to the work of a largely forgotten composer.

Three short encores followed the performance, including two impressive Gottschalk pieces, Le Bananier (The Banana Tree) and Pasquinade(Caprice), along with Earl Wild’s lush arrangement of George Gershwin’s "Embraceable You."


Written by Greg Stepanich on 19 October 2013:

There isn’t much precedent, except maybe on a college seminar evening somewhere, for the kind of program the Filipina pianist Cecile Licad is playing Sunday afternoon at Festival Miami.

Here’s the lineup: Pieces by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Edward MacDowell, William Mason, Leo Ornstein, Ferruccio Busoni and Cecile Chaminade. No Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms or Chopin in sight.

Licad said the program was developed for the Rarities of Piano Music Festival in Husum, Germany, which since 1987 has been assembling concerts fashioned from pieces sitting on the dustiest, most ignored shelves of the immense library of music composed for the piano over the past 300 years.

This year, for example, instead of celebrating the anniversaries of Verdi and Wagner, the festival marked the 200th birthdays of the French eccentric Charles Valentin-Alkan and the Hungarian pedagogue Stephen Heller.

Licad played the program she’s doing Sunday in Miami for the Rarities festival in late August.

“I thought I’d do some obscure American composers and try to make it come alive,” Licad said earlier this week from her home in New York. “Even one piece of Gottschalk on a program is very difficult. You have to figure out how to play it, and it takes time.

“Once you figure it out, it’s very much fun. But in the beginning, it doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

Born in Manila in 1961, Licad was a child prodigy who made her debut as a soloist with orchestra at age 7. She came to the United States to study at the Curtis Institute of Music, and by 1981 had won the gold medal in the now-discontinued Leventritt Competition, at that time one of the world’s most prestigious such contests.

She has appeared with major orchestras and at major festivals around the world for decades, and has more than a dozen recordings to her credit, including a French Grand Prix du Disque in 1985 for her disc of the second Chopin and Saint-Saëns concertos with the London Philharmonic and André Previn.

One of those recordings is a disc for Naxos of the music of Gottschalk (1829-1869), a native of New Orleans who was a major celebrity in his day, and who was probably the very first American classical crossover artist, composing popular pieces beginning in the 1850s that made free use of the sounds of African-American music (The Banjo) as well as the folk styles of Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Licad has programmed five Gottschalk pieces — La Jota Aragonesa, Souvenirs d’Andalousie, Manchega, plus the Ballade No. 6 and theGrand Scherzo — and said the force of the rhythms doesn’t make itself apparent on the page, but it soon does in performance.

“It’s the kind of music where you just kind of let go and let it flow,” she said. “It has such cool rhythms, but the thing is, the fingers have to work. Mechanically, you’re mostly heart and fingers.”

Needless to say, and it’s borne out by the way she moves on the piano bench while playing Manchega (viewable on YouTube), it’s music that doesn’t deserve its low reputation.

“It was snubbed by a lot of people, because they thought, ‘It’s not real music,’” she said. “But I think it’s great.”

Another theme for Licad’s recital is that the composers represented were all major pianists, and in several cases, globally acclaimed virtuosi. Busoni (1866-1924), Italian-born but based in Germany for most of his career, was a tremendously gifted pianist and a remarkably interesting composer. The first book of his American Indian Diary, composed in 1915 (the second book is for orchestra), also presented Licad with major challenges.

“It’s kind of a wild piece. He’s very experimental,” Licad said of the four-part work. “There are many colors you have to bring out … Every piece has its own kind of groove, and this is the tricky part: How to find this. It’s kind of like jazz.”

Busoni is a departure for her, she said.

“It’s a beautiful piece, and I’ve never played anything like it. It’s the first time I’ve learned something like this, and some things are just impossible. And I’ve played the piano for many, many years,” Licad said. “Technically, he’s going his own way.”

Of the three other significant American composers besides Gottschalk on Licad’s program, MacDowell is represented by his Woodland Sketches (op. 51), Mason by his salon-like Silver Spring (Op. 6) and the long-lived Russian-American Ornstein by his Sonata No. 4; Ornstein died in 2002 at the astonishing age of 108.

The MacDowell Sketches, 10 miniatures including To a Wild Rose, are virtually the only pieces by this once hugely popular composer that are still regularly heard today, and Licad finds them “sincere,” and deceptively simple, with bare-bones textures that require the pianist to do a great deal with minimal material.

“I think he didn’t even think about it; it just came out of him,” she said. “It’s quite fresh.”

She finds Russian influence strong in the Ornstein sonata, composed in 1924, but it also has fascinating tonal departures from its Rachmaninovian orientation. “It has some different language in it. It’s kind of way out there,” she said, adding that she is closing the program with the Ornstein as a logical progression from the relative simplicity of the MacDowell that opens the recital.

Licad also will play Chaminade’s Sonata in C minor (Op. 21), composed in 1895 by a Frenchwoman who is perhaps best-known today for her flute music, including a beautiful Concertino. She was a fine and popular pianist who wrote more than 200 works for her instrument.

“It’s quite a serious work, so people who just know Chaminade as a light composer will hear something different. There’s a lot of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms in it, and it’s difficult as hell,” said Licad, adding that she began to explore it as a request to play something by a composer who shares her first name. “It’s a beautiful sonata; it’s stormy and passionate. I think people will like it, and maybe it will get played more often as a standard piece.”

Licad was in her native Philippines earlier this month for a concert celebrating the lives and works of three major Philippine artists: Licad, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja and actress and singer Lea Salonga, best known for her breakout performance in the title role of the musical Miss Saigon. She played the Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini there, and will play it again in concerts in Honolulu after her Miami appearance.

But while the standard repertoire is a reliable part of her repertory, she prefers exploring lesser-known works — she hopes to give Sunday’s program many more times — and she’s not patient with routine interpretations, either.

“I don’t like playing like a cliché: This has to sound like this, and this has to sound like this. I don’t go for that stuff,” she said. “I just work on the music and see how it sounds.”