Sunday, February 10, 2008

Genius has no country

In that electrifying space between Juan Luna’s
‘Spoliarium” and Resurreccion Hidalgo’s “Assassination
of Bustamante”, the most eloquent and heart-rending
masterpieces of Philippine art history, a concert was
held by three young and incredibly prodigious Filipino
musicians— Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz, pianist, Alfonso
Bolipata, violinist and Renato Lucas, cellist.

That Sunday evening, at the Hall of Masters of
the National Art Gallery the “Spoliarium”, enshrined
there after a perilous odyssey, continued to strike
terror and awe, just as it had in Europe where it
was first acclaimed in the XIXth century. Against
that poignant backdrop, Alfonso Bolipata rendered
“ Chaconne” , an intricately Baroque piece by Johann
Sebastian Bach; it was delightful, to say the least.

Before he began playing Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata
in C Major (K.330), Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz hinted
that we should try to detect the various
“international influences” evident in the three
movements, operatic Italian with Germanic precision,
which only Mozart could have melded in a refined
sonata. Jovianney almost always explains what he is
about to play so one’s appreciation for music grows,
the more one understands what the pieces are all

Renato Lucas’ choice “Souvenir de Song” is
definitely older than Bach and Mozart, more ancient
than Philippine colonial history itself. “Song “ is
what we know as the Sung dynasty, during which time
Kublai Khan (or was it Genghis?) and his hordes
invaded China . Under such cruel tyrannical rule, a
court musician played melodies of silent protest on a
sitar andm centuries later, those inspired Jeffrey
Ching to compose “Souvenir de Song”. He is a
contemporary Filipino-Chinese composer who is making
waves with his exotic but modern abstractions of
Chinese dynastic music. I am glad Mr. Lucas took
pains to explain that through his cello, we would
hear that rebellious spirit brooding through a
plaintive sitar; it gave meaning to his piece,
specially because we were wedged between Luna's
revolutionary allegory and Hidalgo's unconcealed rage.

The finale was spectacular because all three
musicians joined forces to play Arensky’s Piano Trio
No. 1 in d minor, opus. 32. Jovianney told the
audience that we had journeyed through various
musical periods in one evening-- ancient China to Bach
and Mozart and now Arensky who he described as a sort
of transition because he was a pupil of the great
Tchaikovsky and the teacher of Rachmaninoff.

The audience went wild after their astounding
performance so the three virtuosos obliged with an
unrehearsed encore. Then Bolipata, the violinist,
had to dash to the Cultural Center for another

That Sunday evening concert, “Musiko sa
Museo”, was a project of the Volunteer Corps of the
National Museum of the Filipino People. Ticket sales
(at Php 1,000 each) will go to a sustaining fund for
the National Art Gallery renovation project and to the
Museum’s educational programs. There is more to come ,
an Opus fest is in the works and will be held
sometime in July.

I hope our virtuosos perform in a place
steeped with history and heritage, where one can
almost hear a euphoric Jose Rizal toasting ( like he
did when Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium” won the gold medal)
to Filipino genius “…that blossoms everywhere. like
the light, the air..” Genius has no country , Rizal
said, it is as international as space, life and God

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