Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No mistake

My good friend Pablo A. Tariman, who has covered the arts and music beat for several decades and doesn't look like he's slowing down (in fact, he has added the showbiz whirl of a world in his area of coverage/reportage), always likes to quote the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. "Without music, life would be a mistake"--this line is brought out in times of joy and disappointment to underline the importance of music in restoring his balance.

I, too, believe that one's life must have some kind of soundtrack playing. I can't write without music. Even if I don't have earphones and an iPhone with a shuffle list, something is playing in my head, especially when I'm caught in Metro Manila traffic or am particularly anxious about something. Music is my stabilizer; it is better and cheaper than doctor-prescribed tranquilizers.

He answers to both "Carlos!" and "Garch!", the marketing guy who's skilled in making the 89-year-old MSO highly visible in social media.

This brings me to Manila Symphony Orchestra's volunteer program where I found myself willingly recruited. Marketing director Carlos Garchitorena sent me a text if I wanted to volunteer for the orchestra's end-of-season concert, "The Late Romantics: Music by Strauss and Rachmaninov" at the Cultural Center Little Theater. Answer "Rachmaninov" if it's a yes; Strauss if it's a no. His come-on: free seating after the duties are done and a meal.

Pianist Aries Caces with his wife and baby Clara. I couldn't help saying the little one would grow up into another Clara Schumann, a pianist and composer also from the Romantic period.

Yes, I'm superficial sometimes (mababaw ang kaligayahan), but I'd do almost anything to hear Rachmaninov's Piano Concert No. 3 in D-mino, Op. 30 played live again, this time with Vienna-educated Aries Caces on the piano.

When early bird Nonon Padilla, the theater director, came for his reserved tickets, among my first words as a volunteer were if he could wait a bit as we still had to be briefed about our duties and the tickets were on their way. He thought I was pulling his leg when he learned I was an MSO volunteer.

Along with fellow volunteers Charm and Michael, I thought that staffing the ticket table and helping sell souvenir programs would be a breeze with the presence of Laura, the person in charge of the cash box (no box, just a long letter envelope). It turned out to be a sold-out show (standing room only wasn't allowed at the theater although there were those who were willing to stand during the two-hour performance). All's well that ends well. Garch was pleased how cool Charm, Michael and I remained despite some ticket buyers who demanded attention.

Benito Legarda (with the black bowtie) I found elegant in his outfit. Here he's chatting with Jeffrey Solares, MSO executive director. Maestro Solares is also a moving force behind the MSO Academy and the MSO Junior Orchestra, training ground for orchestra members of the future.

Up and coming pianist Gabby Paguirigan with Mr. Caces

One of Gabby's BFFs, Jan Briane Astrom (left), who knows more than a thing or two about the classics. I always look out for his recommended YouTube videos.

For a long-haired concert to be sold out--it means a job well done. Congratulations, Garch, Maestro Arturo Molina the conductor, the other MSO members (musicians, admin people, patrons). Let's not forget to acknowledge the classical music geeks like Jan Briane Fabie Astom, Adrian Lontoc, graduating piano major Gabby Paguirigan and groupies like this woman who's old enough to be their mom.

Garch flanks his three volunteers for the evening: the blogger, Charm and Michael. Until the next concert, guys!
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