On Saturday, we spent an evening listening to beautiful music at Lea Sa–longa’s repeat anniversary concert, Playlist. Earning rave reviews during its first run in December, we hurriedly booked tickets online when we learned about the encore.
For my octogenarian Mom, it didn’t need a lot of convincing to get her to PICC for this particular concert. And apparently, the show was a very hot ticket with the Plenary Hall impressively packed to the bleachers.
A decade ago, we also watched Lea’s Journey concert, when she had just gotten married. It was a treat to hear her sing her wedding song, along with favorite classics and ballads, which my family and I tremendously enjoyed.
As expected, Lea’s concerts are never embellished with too much movement on stage nor interspersed with mindless scripted lines. This time though, the stage design and lighting were quite stunning with light beams drawing your eyes to visuals on the backdrop, and providing the mood that was perfect for each song.
In Playlist, Lea shared the stage with her brother Gerald, who is now recognized for his conducting skills, leading a full ensemble orchestra on stage. This time too, Lea’s young daughter sang albeit shyly on stage. Both mom and uncle beamed with pride as Lea candidly confessed how anxiety inducing it was to watch her daughter perform on stage.
I could just imagine how Lea and Gerald’s mom, Ligaya, must’ve been bursting with pride at seeing her children and now granddaughter perform on stage. For such tremendous talent to be shared and fostered within a family is truly remarkable.
That evening, Lea crooned classic Broadway songs and quite a few upbeat pop songs in her impeccable, clean, and perfect pitch. Perhaps, it is her theater upbringing that enables her to breathe life into the most-loved Broadway songs, as she renders them with just the right touch of sentimentality.
Even better were her renderings of Barbra Streisand’s timeless ballads, “People” and “Evergreen,” which were literally gripping. The manner by which she held her notes with utmost control was truly impressive. How she manages to sing pitch perfect is still baffling even to the most seasoned songstress. Indeed, singers who can carry the highest notes without belting or screaming are hard to find these days.
From her last concert to Playlist, Lea also seemed more relaxed, undoubtedly more comfortable in her own skin, so to speak. She also expressed a distinct warmth and sincerity that either midlife or motherhood—or both—must have stirred in her.
From West End to Broadway, to Disney, Lea has spanned and succeeded in leaving audiences worldwide enthralled with her voice. Her career has truly been trailblazing for Filipino artists who wish to venture into careers abroad. Lucky for us, Lea has not lost touch with her Filipino roots and embraces this in song and expression. And for this, an evening listening to her music is one well spent and worth an encore.