“Allegiance”, a new Broadway musical about the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII, was reviewed for the New York Times by Charles Isherwood. Although he had reservations about the rest of the players, he was all praise for Lea Salonga. He wrote: “Naturally, Ms. Salonga takes the vocalized lead on what seems to be every other number; I’m not complaining. Her voice retains its plush beauty and her culminating first act solo “Higher”, while doing nothing much to move the story forward, is perhaps the show’s musical highlight.”
The book writers are Marc Airto, Jay Kiro (who also provided the musical score) and Lorenzo Thione.
The above item was sent to me by Sony Lopez Gonzalez who congratulated Lea backstage. (See photo)
Meanwhile, fast-rising, young tenor Roger Peñaverde, Jr. describes his past and forthcoming performances in New York.
“I began the year with a venture into the production of classical performances. I put up “Love Affair” in February, which was a show that I also sang in. It was a musical revue of love songs from opera and musical theater. In the summer, as part of my advocacy of Philippine music performance in New York, I produced and performed in the Great Filipino Composers Series featuring the life and works of Maestro Nicanor Abelardo. It was held at the Merkin Hall just beside the Lincoln Center in New York. Projected as a yearly undertaking, I hope to feature the life and works of Ernani Cuenco next year.
During the summer, I covered the role of Tonio from Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. It was also during this time when I was featured as the lead singer of New York based band Sounds of Manila to open for the concert of Grammy Award Winner Patti Austin. By fall, I was accepted into the Voice Faculty of Turtle Bay Music School in New York. I also performed at the Asia Society of New York in line with the Philippine Gold Exhibit. Upcoming performances include Tenor Soloist in Handel’s Messiah produced by the Turtle Bay Music School, and a concert at the Park Avenue United Methodist Church in New York.”
Hiyas’ keyboard mastery
Hiyas Hila’s highly impressive credentials include a Doctorate of Musical Arts, Major in Piano Performance from Minnesota University and the San Francisco Conservatory; top prizes in several international competitions, performances in various solo and chamber recitals in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, S.F. (U.S), Gijon, Asturias in Spain, and Manila; foreign awards and scholarships.
Currently, she is with the faculty of the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond, CA, teaching piano, chamber music and piano ensemble.
While on a brief vacation here for the holidays, she was graciously presented by eminent concert pianist Ingrid Santamaria at an intimate and private recital in her Makati residence.
The frequency which Scarlatti’s relatively easy Sonata in E Flat Major opens piano recitals seems to suggest it as a warming-up piece. The rest of Hiyas’ program consisted of virtual bravura pieces. Beethoven’s Sonata in E Flat Major and his 32 Variations in C Minor immediately demonstrated Hiyas’ mastery of the keyboard; compositions demanding a left hand as fluent as the right, remarkably dexterous, nimble fingers with power matching masculine strength for the thunderous chords. The foregoing works were followed by three Chopin Etudes, one of them converted into the popular song “No Other Love”.
Although the Etudes were composed to meet particular technical difficulties, each has a singular musical merit of its own. Academicians aver that anyone who can play Chopin’s Etudes (with their intricate complex devices) can play anything in piano literature. How this observation totally applied to Hiyas! She evoked exoticism in reflections on the sea and its moods, delicacy of feeling, subtle nuances in Debussy’s impressionistic Reflets dans l’eau. As has been observed by musicologists, “Chopin makes poetry with the piano; Debussy paints with it.”
Hiyas’ conservance with each composer’s distinctive style was again manifested in Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 3 in A Minor. With admirable tonal clarity dominating in all previous pieces interpreted, it again surfaced in this work. Prokofiev’s music, like Chopin’s, has an unmistakable identity. Thus, Hiyas delineated it as “saucy, infectious, and impudent, the tart and disjointed melodies fluctuating from the naive and simple to the unexpected and complex.” The audience, dazzled and delighted, gave the pianist a standing ovation. In response, she played as encore “Dedication” by Schumann-Liszt, putting an exquisitely lyrical end to a startling and sparkling pre-holiday recital.
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Minerva Tanseco, Belinda Cunanan, Drs. Medel, (pianist Enzo’s parents), Tony Pastor, Sonya Garcia, Lucy Consunji, Rosa Panlilio, Evelyn Garcia, and Ingrid’s family were among the avid admirers.
Hiyas’ father, music critic Tony Hila, must have been justifiably proud and gratified with his daughter’s mind-blowing, virtuosic performance.
Prior to the recital, guest of honor Mrs. Marcos dominated the dinner conversation which was primarily on art and culture. It will be recalled that she was behind the construction of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the premier performance-exhibition venue; the Folk Arts Theater in the CCP compound, and the Philippine International Convention Center. Mighty contributions to this country’s cultural and civic life.