By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 24-Jul-2019  ·  
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Cecile Licad with island music teachers and music lov-ers.

Even as her three-part recording of American music continues to reap accolade from CD critics, pianist Cecile Licad has announced she is recording four orchestral works of George Gershwin with a Danish orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga.

Among the Gershwin favorites in the Manila concert scene is Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue.

Said Licad on FB: “Nice to be able to explore the fascinating world of Gershwin. It’s almost an orgy of combinations of sounds and rhythm. It is difficult but I love the process of discovery and I’m slowly getting there. Happy to work again with Gerard (Salonga) with whom I had tremendous and joyous collaborations with and whose musicianship I deeply admire. Can‘t wait to get to Denmark.” Pianist Cecile Licad -- last seen at the Kennedy Center in the company of conductor Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Rudolf Serkin many years back -- returned in the same venue for an evening of Chopin and Buencamino and got a rousing standing ovation last June 17.

The occasion was the observance of the 121st anniversary of Philippine Independence attended by a select Filipino-American audience led by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and US-Philippines Society Co-Chair Ambassador John Negroponte.

At this point, I’d like to recall how islanders reacted the first time they saw Licad perform.

In the mid-90s, one concert of Cecile Licad with cellist Antonio Meneses was made into a fundraising event by Barasnons for the town’s typhoon victims (I don’t know which typhoon that was).

We raised a modest amount that metamorphosed into sacks of rice and other food items for Barasnons.

What got me of course was how they reacted the first time some of them saw Licad.

Some townmates recalled they went to Aristocrat and stayed till early morning with beer talking about the pianist and how she entranced them. “There was something about her hands and her whole body swaying with the music that got us,” recalled one.

Ten years later, island music aficionado David Templonuevo Jr. heard Licad at the CCP with some friends and how thrilled they were.

Three years ago, some island music teachers led by Cresencia Arcilla got to see Licad perform with orchestra at the CCP and even got her autograph. The most exciting part for them was the picture taking with the legendary pianist.

Two years later, I was in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Jorge V. Sarmiento in another Licad concert at the CCP and saw actor John Lloyd Cruz equally thrilled by the pianist.

As a country musician once said, “It's really interesting how music can knock down a wall and be an open connection between you and someone else where something else can't. When music comes along, it just opens your heart a little more.”

Cecile Licad with her new fan at the Independence Day concert in Washington D.C. -- Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.
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