“It’s really not that difficult for people to appreciate classical guitar music, we just need to create awareness and expose people to it.” – Ramoncito ‘Monching’ Carpio
Filipino guitarist Ramoncito Carpio started to play guitar at age 12. He decided to study guitar formally at age 17 at the extension program of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the UP College of Music, Master of Music degree at Philippine Women’s University (PWU) where is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in Music degree under the tutelage of Dr. Angelito Agcaoili.
In 2012, he won 1st prize in the Asia International Guitar Competition in Thailand and 2nd prize in the Taiwan International Guitar Competition. His other awards include 1st Prize in the Philippine International Guitar Competition (2011), 3rd Prize at the Singapore International Guitar Competition (2011), 3rd Prize Bangkok International Guitar Competition (2010) and 2nd Prize at the NAMCYA Guitar Category C held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (2009).
He is very active in promoting the clacssical guitar not only by performing but also through organizing events. In 2014, he organized the first ever PWU Classical Guitar Competition and was one of the directors of the 2014 and 2015 PWU Guitar Festival. He is part of the guitar faculty at the Philippine Women’s University and St.Scholastica’s Colege, Manila. Monching also writes music for the guitar and stage plays. Monching speaks to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of CALCUTTA International Classical Guitar Festival & Competition.
What is it that drew you to the classical guitar and what do you love about the instrument?
It was really an accident how I came to be a classical guitarist. I used to be in a heavy metal band when I was younger, it was not until I was 17 years old that I learned that a music conservatory exists. The main reason I wanted to study music was because I want to be good in playing in the electric guitar. Since classical music is not very popular in the Philippines, I was quite shocked to know that they only teach classical music/guitar in the conservatory, I found it very interesting so I pursued it anyway.
I really like the complexity of the instrument. I love how it is able to play the melody, harmony and basses all at the same time. I also love the sound it produces, and it’s a very “romantic” instrument.
What are your influences in classical music in general?
I listen to lot of Bach, Sor and Giuliani when I was just starting. Later on, I discovered the music of Barrios, Brouwer and Piazzolla. I think Piazzolla’s music greatly influenced me in terms of how I interpret/ perform music.
You have graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music. What are your best remembrances during that tenure?
During my years in the university, I did a lot of concerts, as a soloist and with an ensemble. Since it’s a state university, the diversity of students is quite big which enabled me to view things in a wider perspective.
Are you experiencing many younger people coming to your concerts?
I think the classical guitar following in the Philippines is gradually improving. With the help of social media and a lot of guitar aficionados/enthusiast which also helps in promoting events, it’s easier now to let people know of the happenings in the guitar and music scene. Hopefully in the future, we could see the results of all these efforts so that the younger generation of guitarists would have a better situation than the one we had before.
In an era where people are so into electronics and driving, mechanistic beats, is it difficult for people to slow down and sink into the subtlety and nuance of the guitar?
It’s is quite surprising that a lot of people I meet enjoys listening to classical guitar music. The classical guitar market is small but I think it’s slowly growing. It’s really not that difficult for people to appreciate classical guitar music, we just need to create awareness and expose people to it.
Do you have any new experimental music ideas that you wish to pursue with your guitar?
Not really experimental but I would like to write music for guitar based on the music of ethnic groups in the Philippines. It’s my way of promoting the traditional Filipino music that is slowly getting forgotten by the younger generation.