Arts Music Culture

The Philippines-Japan Friendship Concert

After signing, I handed back the attendance sheet to the receptionist and was about to pay for the ticket when she gasped at the sight of my name. She then asked me how I am related to Nicanor Abelardo. It was such a pleasant surprise and blessing that upon learning that I am indeed related to the famous composer, she gave me the ticket for free. But that was just the start of one enchanting evening.

Inside the Abelardo Hall Auditorium, my heart skipped a beat when the thick velvet curtain slowly revealed the dark, shiny double-ended grand piano. Gracing the stage in yellow floral Kimono, Japanese Pianist Naoko Matsuoka then took a daikyū* (大弓), signalling the start of a soothing piano serenade.

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Last night, the University of the Philippines College of Music and the KTCM Music Education Laboratory Foundation, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines and the Japanese Embassy of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines presented the Philippines and Japan friendship concert titled Bridge to the Future. The concert is part of the “Towards AHA@50 Concert Series” of the College and in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

The joint concert featured noted visiting Japanese artists: sopranos Satsuki Hayashida and Ayano Kumada, internationally acclaimed pianist Naoko Matsuoka, and folk artist Tatsuya Hosono on traditional Japanese stringed instrument called tsugaru shamisen (つがるしゃみせん). They were joined by teachers of the College: pianist Carolyn Cheng and bass Rainier Arthur Cruz.

Naoko Matsuoka
Naoko Matsuoka performing “Sakura Fantasia”

A fine repertoire were showcased as the six artists take turns to render a variety of musical pieces. The first half of the program was comprised of Kozaburo Hirai’s Sakura Fantasia (Matsuoka), Rentaro Taki’s Kojo no tsuki (Cruz, Matsuoka) , and Teiichi Okano’s Oboro zukiyo (Cruz, Matsuoka). Following them were traditional songs Otemoyan (Hayashida, Hosono), Fujisan (Kumada, Cruz, Matsuoka), and Sakura Sakura (Kumada, Hosono, Matsuoka); then Nagayo Motoori’s Nanatsu no ko (Kumada, Cruz, Matsuoka), and a tsugaru shamisen exhibition of Jonkara-Bushi by Hosono.

Mozart's Sonata for 2 pianos K.448 D Major performed by Naoko Matsuoka and Carolyn Cheng. (Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
Mozart’s Sonata for 2 pianos K.448 D Major performed by Naoko Matsuoka and Carolyn Cheng.
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)

The second part of the program started off with the music of renowned composers such as Mozart’s Sonata for 2 pianos K.448 D Major as featured in Nodame Cantabile (Matsuoka and Cheng); Bartok’s Six Romanian Folk Dances (Cheng), and Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu (Matsuoka). These were then followed by Filipino songs such as Ating cu pung Singsing (arranged by Espino), Chitchiritsit, Pobreng Alindahaw, Katakataka, Pandangguhan and Anak Dalita, and timeless Kundimans by Nicanor Abelardo: Nasaan ka Irog and Bituing Marikit. Finally, the song Minamahal Kita where all of the six artists collaborated, capped off the night’s concert.

“Chitchirit” by Cheng, Hayashida, and Hosono
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
A piano duet for
A piano duet for “Katakataka” by Naoko Matsuoka and Carolyn Cheng
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
Rainier Cruz singing Nicanor Abelardo's kundiman
Rainier Cruz singing Nicanor Abelardo’s kundiman “Bituing Marikit”
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
Carolyn Cheng, Satsuki Hayashida, and Rainier Cruz performing
Carolyn Cheng, Satsuki Hayashida, and Rainier Cruz performing “Anak Dalita”
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
The final act
The final act: “Minamahal Kita”

The event’s emblem is the Baybayin symbol /ka/ which represents unity and cooperation. In the state of diversity amid globalization, music truly binds people from all walks of life together.

group photo
With Naoko Matsuoka, Ayano Kumada, and Tatsuya Hosono
(Photo from Ms. Kyoko Yamakuni)
With Tatsuya Hosono and Ayano Kumada
With Tatsuya Hosono and Ayano Kumada
The artists and organizers (Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)
The artists and organizers
(Photo by Mr. Rolando Martinez)

Reference: http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp and http://music.upd.edu.ph
Photo credits: Mr. Rolando Martinez and Ms. Kyoko Yamakuni
*Daikyū (大弓) is a long yumi (弓) or bow.

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