Let us now praise the classical guitar
April 25, 2014
By PABLO A. TARIMAN
THE classical guitar is an underrated instrument in the local concert scene.
Two decades back, you get lucky with rare performances by Lester Demetillo who used to have a guitar ensemble at the UP College of Music and still a once-in-a-blue-moon recital by New York-based Michael Dadap who is married to Yo Yo Ma’s violinist-sister, Yo Cheng Ma.
Still, guitar concerts are few and far between and you get lucky with a visiting artist performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Arranjuez with the PPO and some exemplary instrumentalist performing with singers in a special concert funded by a car company.
Of late, guitar competitions have sprouted and the winners get showcased in winners’ recital.
One such prizewinner is Ramoncito Carpio who is a top winner of the Asian International Guitar Competition in Thailand and second prize in the Taiwan International Guitar Competition. Earlier, he was first prize winner 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.
Carpio was soloist of the Manila Symphony Orchestra in a rare performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Arranjuez.
Thus, it is with great delight that we welcomed the announcement that Paraguay’s numero uno classical guitarist Berta Rojas is making her Philippine debut on May 15 with move-over engagement in Cebu May 17. For the local practitioners, Rojas is slated to conduct a guitar master class on May 14 at the Cedar Room of Richmond Hotel which is the official residence of the visiting classical guitarist.
Described by the Washington Post as “guitarist extraordinaire,” Rojas obliged with a pocket interview by Skype even as we get a taste of her artistry watching a video of her playing Agustin Barrios’ “The Cathedral.”
With an honest-to-goodness cathedral as backdrop, Rojas performs with passionate artistry like an aural painter reconstructing a huge house of worship. She has an open face, easily vulnerable and her classical guitar easily leads us to the window of her soul. It is a performance that makes one look forward to her May 15 Manila debut.
In the presscon for the coming guitar event, we hear Carpio perform Carlo Domenicone’s “Koyunbaba – suite for Guitar Op. 19” and it is easy to see why he is a competition jury’s favorite. The touch of his hands is magical and the music sinks in with nary an effort.
There is a whole lot of music and artistry as one heard his CD recording, “Pahinungod” consisting of selected works by Francisco Tarrega, Agustin Barrios Mangore’s “La Catedral,” Astor Piazzola’s “Primavera Portena” and Carlo Domeniconi’s “Suite for Guitar op. 19,” among others.
We note that he has taken master classes with Rojas who shares her views on music by Skype.
Rojas begins by saying that music is her way of expressing what her heart feels. “Music allows me to connect with my inner self and as a result, music helps me cope with other things not found in the musician’s universe.”
She adds music helps her cope with day-to-day life ordinary citizens are plagued with such as poverty in the countryside and corruption, among others.
Even as she is committed to enriching her own artistry and sharing her musical talents, Rojas is in the forefront of promoting the growth of classical guitar in the Americas, especially the development of young performers. She is the artist behind the first online classical guitar competition, the Barrios WorldWideWeb Competition which has generated tremendous impact on the guitar world.
“Working with young kids in the countryside, I realized music is a strong instrument to promote social change. I come from a country which has survived colonization and 35 years of dictatorships. Digging deeper into music, I also realized music helps connects us with our national identity,” she says.
Rojas says she is happy to share the concert with Filipino talents among them Carpio and Triple Fret, a guitar trio consisting of Marga Abejo, Jenny de Vera, and Iqui Vinculado.
The May 15 Meralco Theater engagement of Rojas, Carpio and Triple Fret is presented by Independent Philippine Art Ventures, Inc. For tickets, call TicketWorld at 891-9999.
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