Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Snapshots of a maestro at work, at play

The Maestro referred to is that music whiz from Singapore Darrell Ang who has been in the country for over a week. He seems to be carrying a love rash for the Philippines around his neck. It couldn't be sunburn from a visit to Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna, where tenor Arthur Espiritu hosted him Aug. 7--that was an overcast day.

It couldn't have come from his free Sunday, Aug. 8, when he and Zara visited the Rizal Monument (my chance to recite all I knew by heart about our National Hero), Intramuros, the National Museum and Chinatown in that order (much of the tour was done inside the car driven by photographer-watercolorist Amado Chua as it was a gray, rainy day). So where did the rose color circling his neck come from? It has gotten the Philippine hosts so worried that last night, we parted from the Maestro and his girlfriend Zara more or less assured that they would get some calamine lotion to ease the itch. Medical consultation was done by telephone.

As I write this blog, I imagine him wielding his baton before the Manila Symphony Orchestra, twisting around now and then to cue the Aleron Chorale and the all-star cast. His mane of dark hair flies all over the place, and he hardly tames or presses them down so focused is he on the work at hand--the first-time staging in the Philippines of Rossini's La Cenerentola.

La Cenerentola, to be performed complete with two acts but in concert version on Saturday (Aug. 15) at the Meralco Theater in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, has generated a lot of excitement. With good reason because the moving spirit is Maestro Ang who believes that yes, the Filipino can! He calls us the most naturally musical, vocally, of all Asians. We're up there with all peoples of the world with a long tradition of singing.

During the first-time rehearsal of the cast (to include mezzo Karin Mushegain, tenor Arthur Espiritu, baritone Park Byeong In, sopranos Myramae Meneses and Tanya Corcuera) with the award-winning all-male Aleron Chorale held at the MusikArtes studio in old Makati, the Maestro spent a few minutes scouring around he studio looking for a suitable place to park the music book and his butt. He finally found the ideal chair and a music stand. The cast kidded him and addressed him Teacher Darrell when he was seated behind the original table. The Friday evening was significant for pianist Najib Ismail because it marked his last accompaniment duties to the cast and chorus. This week they have rehearsing with the full orchestra in another part of Makati.

The Maestro's and his assistant conductor Alvin Seville's energy levels and appetites are high after intense four-to-five-hour long rehearsals. To the Aristocrat Restaurant, Bel-air Village Makati branch we hied off, it being open for 24 hours. My face cannot tell a lie. What's written on it is this: it's past my Cinderella hour. In the last photo are Amado, opera presentor Joseph Uy, the Maestro, Alvin and a would-be understudy for any role but who's happy being chronicler, production assistant, occasional ticket seller and guide.

And the sight-seeing begins before the clouds let rip their content of rainwater. We managed a few minutes before Jose Rizal's monument, and I included the Torre de Manila eyesore in the background, to the right. Then we moved to the Intramuros, the Maestro's second visit after last year's when the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation's Angel Reyes Nacino brought him there. He and his friend ducked into the Manila Cathedral while Amado and I waited outside. We climbed a portion of the walls to look at the little space of green the city still has. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

Our National Museum is a must-visit stop for anyone, whether local or foreign tourist. I wonder why there wasn't time last year during his visit for the Mostly Mozart Festival. Rectifications were made. First pose was with National Artist Adulmari Imao's sculpture "Sarimanok" followed by awed viewings of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo's "The Assassination of Governor Bustamante," Juan Luna's "Spolarium" and Guillermo Tolentino's "Diwata."After this visit to the floor level, the maestro asked, like a child who can't have enough of the "eye candies", "Are there anymore paintings?" It was our cue to bring him up to the third floor via a see-through elevator that enabled us to see the museum courtyard's possibility for being venue for small outdoor concerts in the 'ber months when the monsoon is over. Maestro felt the same way when he saw the former Senate Hall. Perfect for concerts, he said, with uniformly priced tickets and an orchestra that can be set near, not away from, the audience. Keep dreaming awake, Maestro!

Admiring the paintings of Jaime de Guzman
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