By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 19-Dec-2018  ·  
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The dramatic standing ovation for Cecile Licad in Molo Church in Iloilo as captured by island photographer Floyd Evangelista Flores.

As I write this, I have just concluded an eleven-day cross-island tour that produced seven all-Chopin recitals with the country’s living piano legend, Cecile Licad.

I consider this a big feat as I’ve never done 7 concerts in less than two weeks involving seven different pianos in various state of newness and disrepair.

The recital series had a Manila preview at the Manila Polo Club where the fairly rich and famous came in full force to help raise funds for the PPO and special children.

Covering these outreach concerts is a photographer from the island, Floyd Evangelista Flores, who could not believe he had shared hotels, plane and land rides with a piano legend.

Floyd remained star-struck after witnessing three standing ovations in one concert from Iloilo to Science City of Munoz and on to Baguio City where he saw the longest lines of Licad fans lining up for autograph.

He was also witnessing the legendary temper of the pianist who called a spade a spade when things are not done the way it should.

But most of all, he was close witness on how a piano legend chose her piano from one passable instrument to another.

But unknown to many, the “star” of the Chopin tour was piano tuner Alexander Comoda who did everything to make weather-beaten pianos sound normal. But the big discovery of the pianist is that the tuner was also a sound expert when acoustics are bad and we had to use microphones to enhance the sound of a baby grand piano in such a huge venue like the cavernous Molo church in Iloilo City.

But when things get the desired results, everyone in the tour from pianist to organizer and piano tuner to photographer observe quiet celebrations. They realize good concerts do not come easy indeed when it involves piano legends.

So what did we learn from this tour that had us hopping from one airport to another and from one Luzon venue to the last Visayan concert auditorium in Roxas City last December 8?

We learned of course that classical music as interpreted by a national treasure doesn’t choose its audience. It hits its mark from the very rich of Forbes Park and Iloilo to the less prosperous families in Science City of Munoz in Nueva Ecija. We were surprised that Licad fans in Baguio itinerary didn’t just come from the City of Pines but from as far as Abra and Cagayan Valley.

Another Licad fan from Calbayog City, tourism officer Ronald Ricafort, logged five hours of sea travel from Samar to Cebu on account of a cancelled flight and then took another one hour of air travel from Cebu to Iloilo City and arriving at SM Iloilo venue just in time for the recital.

The Licad fans in this country are all over the archipelago and in every concert, her millennial following increased by the hundreds.

The tour was a miracle of music as much as it was a lesson in survival for the pianist who had no access for good pianos in the provinces.

As for this writer and concert organizer, it was a good and grand way to say farewell to the music scene for the time being.

It was also my way of saying happy birthday to an old soul turning 70 on December 30.

Merry Christmas!

Euphoric audience response for the national treasure Cecile Licad in Baguio City as captured by the lens of Floyd Evangelista Flores.
Welcome dinner for Licad hosted by Rustan's CEO and president Nedy Tantoco in her Forbes Park home. In photo, Pablo Tariman, model Ping Valencia, Irene Marcos Araneta, Cecile Licad and other guests.
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