By By Pablo A. Tariman
Rave review for Licad's latest CD, standing ovation in San Francisco
posted 27-Nov-2018  ·  
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Cecile Licad with son Otavio. Living and loving music for 51 years.

As I look forward to Cecile Licad’s all-Chopin program in November, I’d like to rewind the clock of time.

I first saw her in Albay in 1975 at age 14, she received the Leventritt Gold Medal at 19, a bride at 26, a mother at 29 and still a seasoned musician to this day.

The country’s greatest living pianist likes to sum up her life thus: “I was involved with music at age four. That means 51 years of learning and playing the piano.”

As it is, it’s been a landmark year for the Filipino pianist.

She welcomed 2018 with a solo recital at Weill Hall (Carnegie) January 18 and at the end of the last note, the audience rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation.

In the same venue last October 27, she appeared not as a performer but as one of the distinguished awardees of The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) citation.

Instead of an acceptance speech, she played Chopin’s Minute Waltz clocking exactly 60 seconds! Audience and co-awardees were ecstatic.

With Vallejo Symphony in California, she appeared three times in one season with Shostakovich, Chopin and Saint-Saens concertos and the standing ovations were endless.

When her  all-Chopin program series opened at the Mission Basilica Church in San Francisco last November 10, again there was resounding standing ovation that bordered on the hair-raising. “Grabe!” was all Filipino fan Tony Castro could say as he greeted Licad backstage.

Still exhausted from the performance, Licad told the Inquirer: “I am glad to see people reacting happily. This is the kind of reaction that is a balm to your spirit when you worked hard to do justice to Chopin. Even those who have heard me play Chopin all their lives say what I did was a total reinvention. To top it all, people who didn’t know anything about music loved my program notes. I feel this is a great program to bring in Manila and in the countryside.”

On November 27, Cecile will appear in a music fest that will raise funds for the PPO at the Manila Polo Club.

A day after, she flies to Iloilo to pay tribute to Iloilo’s heritage landmarks at the stunning Nelly Garden (formerly the Lopez Mansion) on November 29, then at the historic Molo Church on November 30.

Another performance at Cinema 6 of SM Iloilo sponsored by the City Government of Iloilo will cap her stay in the City of |Smiles.

Of course, she is happy performing an all-Chopin program in a venue that looked like a composer’s house.

The Nelly Garden concert is Licad’s fitting tribute to the 169th death anniversary of Chopin who should be 208 years old by now.

Chopin’s Concerto No. 2 was Licad’s debut with New York York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta. She won a Grand Prix Du Disque from Poland’s Chopin Society for her recording of the same concerto with London Philharmonic under Andre Previn.

For the record, she was heard in Iloilo in 1975 when she was only 14 years old. The organizer was a nun named Sister Fideles who will fly to Iloilo from Baguio to reunite with the piano prodigy who performed in her fundraising concert 43 years ago.

Another good news is that her third CD on American composers is out and the first review is a knockout.

Wrote classical CD critic John France: “It is not hard to find the overt romanticism of Franz Liszt and Joachim Raff in William Mason’s beautiful filigree ‘Silver Spring’ op.6. This was composed around 1850. The liner notes point out that the work is full of ‘delicate bravura figuration and cadenza-like flourishes.’ Mason’s piano music was at the ‘top end’ of the then fashionable salon pieces. It is stunningly played here by Cecile Licad.”

“The African-American composer William Grant Still wrote a wide-range of music, including operas, ballets and symphonies. He is usually recalled for his 1931 Afro-American Symphony. The work is moving and exhilarating at the same time. It is resourcefully played here by Cecile Licad. She is clearly a technically proficient and hugely inspired performer.”

(Cecile Licad will appear in a Manila Polo Club music fest to raise funds for the PPO Society spearheaded by Ms. Nedy Tantoco and CCP chair Margie Moran Floirend on November 27, 7 p.m. Sponsored by the City Government of Iloilo, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Philippine Airlines and Hotel del Rio, she will be heard for the first time in Nelly Garden in Iloilo City November 29, 6:00 p.m. Molo Church November 30, 6:30 p.m. and Cinema 6 SM Iloilo, CAP Auditorium Baguio City Dec. 6 and Gerry Roxas Auditorium in Roxas City on December 8.  For inquiries on the Nov. 27 Chopin festival in Manila, call 895 2109, 0917-570 8301.For the Nelly Garden recital, call 09065104270. For the Molo Church concert call 09498894534. For the Baguio concert, call 7827164, 0918-3473027, 0920-9540053)

Cecile Licad's latest CD on American composers. The crit-ics called her interpretation simply "stunning."
Pablo Tariman during last venue inspection of Nelly Garden, venue of Licad's Nov. 29 concert .
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