Monday, June 13, 2016

Anne Marie of the keys

Anne Marie "Macky" Caldoza

“Good music, good food”—these, in pianist Anne Marie Caldoza’s words, are her priorities in life as she enters her 25th year on earth, half of it spent studying her instrument.

Known to family and friends as Macky, she attributes to her Lola Joaquinita her first exposure to music. Joaquinita Cinco Alzate was the town pianist. During the Japanese period, she played for parties. She even accompanied a young Imelda Romualdez in Tacloban. But Caldoza said her attention span as a child was such that she couldn’t learn earnestly from her lola. Or she may have tried the older woman’s patience.

At age 12 she began formal piano studies with Prof. Najib Ismail at the University of Santo Tomas. During that period with him she won, among many prizes, honorable mention from the National Music Competition for Young Artists in 2013, a silver award from the 2011 Asia International Piano Academy and Festival with Competition in Korea, second prize the 2010 UST Chopin Competition, second prize from the 2007 Piano Teachers Guild of the Philippines Bach Competition.

After she graduated cum laude at the UST Conservatoryof Music with a bachelor of music in piano performance and performing at Paco Park, Ismail thought she was fit for something bigger and recommended her to pursue her masters of music in piano performance at the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To reach Longy, a century-old conservatory inside a New England mansion, one of the largest in Boston, she walks for 30 minutes, cutting through Cambridge Commons and Harvard Square from the house where she rents a room from a Filipino family.

Calzado has built a name for herself on campus, having served as an officer of the Longy Student Association in her first year and co-president in her second. Longy has a small student population of 250. She says they know one another, adding, “Basically, we are one big crazy family.”

She recently graduated but plans to return to Longy this fall for a graduate performance diploma, saying, “I still have lots to work on.” She adds that two years of graduate studies aren’t enough and despite four hours of daily practice.

If there’s anything that Longy has taught her, she says, “It is to embrace all possibilities and to think creatively as possible, be it in class projects, concert programming, performance practice, etc. The dream is to make a difference, no matter how small.”

Caldoza opens the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation (MCOF) season on June 22 at 7 p.m. at Ayala Museum with a challenging program made up of Handel’s “Suite in B-flat Major, HWV 440,” Beethoven’s “Sonata in E-flat Major, op. 7,” Haydn’s “Sonata in G Major Hob. XVI: 40,” Harold Shapero’s “Sonata in D Major” and Rachmaninoff’s “Etudes-Tableaux, op. 33.”

She says of her selections: “There’s always something to love about the style of each composer. I play or listen according to my mood as part of my ‘quarter-life crisis.’ Even if Handel is baroque, there is something lyrical you can do with him. You’re allowed a little freedom because the counterpoint is very thin. I have friends who study early music, and they’ve helped me with nuances.”

To relax she continues the family tradition of baking. She specializes in cupcakes and cookies for her own consumption and for community sharing. Her latest creations carry the combined flavors of Earl Grey tea and chocolate, chocolate crinkles with a crusty top and ginger molasses cookies.

Or she plays with four dogs, two of them pugs. Caldoza talks fondly of them, “We’ve had Raya since I was in high school. The other is Porkchop, a fairly recent addition. Raya sleeps under my piano whenever I practice. I used to have a pug named Puffy that loved the Grieg minor concerto and she’d come running when she hears me start playing. She’d sit beside me for hours and sometimes howl while I played.” -- Elizabeth Lolarga

For tickets to Caldoza’s “Tribute to the Masters,” call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or MCOF at 997-9483, 782-7164 or cell phone nos. 0920-954-0053 and 0918-347- 3027.

A shorter version of this article is published in today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Arts and Books section.

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