Saturday, August 16, 2014

Teepee Aguilar, soprano of the hour

Teepee with her assisting artist, pianist Farley Asuncion, and her dad, architect Efren Aguilar  Photos by Babeth Lolarga
Of the adjectives that have been used to describe the voice of lyric soprano Stephanie Anne “Teepee” Aguilar, the ones that have captivated me best as listener-admirer are “creamy” and “radiant.”

More will be added to the list when we watch and listen to her again at the professional debut recital of this 2012 Jovita Fuentes Vocal Competition prize winner on Aug. 20, Wednesday, at 7 p.m. at Ayala Museum.

The Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation (MCO) Foundation has made of the museum lobby its presenting stage for most of its concerts this year (in July, it was the renamed Lanuza Hall at the Philippine Stock Exchange bldg. in Pasig City for the memorable Mostly Mozart Festival).

And it’s also almost SOP for the MCO Foundation workhorses (executive director Angel Reyes Nacino and consultant Joseph Uy—they with the biblical names) to bring the talents for live patikim presentations at Bert Robledo’s noontime program, “Bravo Filipino,” over DZFE The Master’s Touch (that’s 98.7 on your FM dial).

For just this past Thursday’s radio program, Teepee prepared Mozart’s “Or sai chi l’onore,” Anna’s aria from Don Giovanni; Schubert’s “Gretchen Am Spinnrade”; the American spiritual “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” arranged by Margaret Bonds; and Nicanor Abelardo’s “Mutya ng Pasig.”

With DZFE's Bert Robledo
When he learned that she earned her first bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, major in hospitality management, from the College of St. Benilde, he said in deadpan fashion (off the air), “Puwede ka ring singing  kaldero.”

She said her mother Gigi, who’s good on the piano and works as an interior designer, wanted her only child to take a college course that would reassure her of a future.

But Teepee has been singing since she was three, a soloist no less in nursery school. Her father Efren recalled how Teepee was always chosen as choir leader during her elementary and high school years at the Tabernacle of Faith Christian Academy in San Juan, Metro Manila. For a time she was choir director of The Word Community Church which holds its Sunday worship at Unilab’s Bayanihall Hall in Mandaluyong.

Until a friend invited her to the University Santos Tomas, and in 2009 she entered its Conservatory of Music. She said of that decision, “I prayed to God, telling Him singing is what I do best. Let’s see how far God will take me.” She began as part of the big chorus in Cavalleri Rusticana. Manong Bert quipped that the experience put her literally in the pits (orchestra pit).

Singing live at the DZFE studio with Farley Asuncion on the piano
Asked what makes a good opera singer, she mentioned talent and finding good teachers who would notice the talent and hone it (in her case, soprano Rachelle Gerodias in the beginning and now tenor Lemuel de la Cruz), dedication, heart  (“You’ve got to love what you’re doing, memorize different languages and blockings and making all these look flawless”), and hard work.

Again Manong Bert couldn’t help quipping that the likes of Anne Curtis have a lot of hard work to do.

Teepees schedule these days include studying for roles on her own (shes appearing in the operas Noli Me Tangere and La Boheme) before turning up for rehearsals, practicing with a pianist or whoever is teaching or directing her and the others. She said she enjoys preparing for an opera because itgrand, colorful and always big."

She ended her hour-long interview interspersed with singing at DZFE with He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. Manong Bert couldn't help saying how compelling the spiritual was in the light of Robin Williams suicide, saying, Theres no need to feel hopeless, no matter what youre experiencing or going through.” - Elizabeth Lolarga
Relaxing after the interview 
For tickets to Stephanie Aguilar's concert, call TicketWorld at 891-9999, the MCO Foundation at 750-0768 or 0920-954-0053 or CAEO at 762-7164 or 0918-3473027. 


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