Saturday, January 2, 2016

Mainly Mozart

Pianist Carmencita Sipin Aspiras conducting a masterclass on interpreting the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Steinway Boutique in Makati

Ma'am Chita, as I've taught myself to call the piano virtuoso, was a revelation as a teacher at a masterclass she held in November last year with four lads participating (Hansel Ang, Franz Christian Tanuwijaya, Denzel Abarquez and Nathan Samuel Gemina).

Gentle but firm, she reminded them that their role as musicians is akin to a detective's. "We are like spies out to detect criminal spots. Our job as musicians is to detect those spots where we can make meaningful and beautiful music," she said.

She brought in a bit of music history, mentioning how Chopin admired Mozart so much that the former wanted his music to be played like his idol's which is simply.

She encouraged the young pianists to aim "not just for a crisp piano sound but a singing sound, not just to sing the music but to also imagine a conductor leading you and an orchestra."

I never thought that a master musician would be so scrupulous about details--I always thought this applied to editors who pushed us to put God or the Devil in the details of our reports. "Pay attention to the minutest details," Ma'am Chita exhorted. "Imagine the Austrians dancing (to Mozart's music). Keep experimenting on the sound produced, on the melodic line with the inflections, the rise and fall of the voice. This sounds simple, but it is difficult to produce."

She pointed out that what matters is "not how fast or how loud we play with our fingers running down the piano. The test for a musician in playing Mozart is to play him beautifully until you reach the point that is most sublime." It's a lifetime's work and requires maturity. Time is on the young musicians' side.

Congratulating Hansel Ang, the baby of the group, after handing him his certificate of participation

Smile! Mozart is watching. Photos by Babeth Lolarga

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