Monday, June 24

Just returned from the Cecile Licad solo recital held at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo at the CCP. The concert was set for 8pm. Something came up at work and I was occupied until a little before 7pm. I took a cab and got there in ten minutes, a miracle since I thought there would be hellish traffic since it rained earlier. None of the friends I was going with were there yet. One was still stuck in Bulacan, and she said it was raining heavily, and the other two were still somewhere in Fairview. I milled around in the lobby, where mostly everyone wore black. Now most of my clothes are either black, grey or blue, but for some flimsy reason I can't remember now, I ended up wearing white and khakis -- perfect for daytime wear, but not for evening concerts. Five minutes before the recital started and they still weren't there. I went into the theater, found my seat, looked around and saw that mostly everyone in my section was like 40 and up. I ended up listening to all of Chopin's Etudes with the seats to my right all unoccupied.

Now it was my first time to watch Cecile Licad perform. I didn't know what she would be playing until I got there and browsed the program. So I didn't have any expectations, no clue, except that it was going to be a night of classical music. She came in wearing a black dress, sat down, and from my view high up in the balcony, all I could see was black hair billowing around her face, and I noticed how fluidly her hands and fingers were as they moved across the keys. There was a projector at the side of the stage, and there the movements were magnified. You could see her mouth as she pouted and the way her eyebrows furrowed. Her hair fell in black pools over her shoulders. Sometimes her whole body shook and hunched and bent low, face near the ivories. Sometimes more than the music itself, I was absorbed at how absorbed she was at playing the piano. She seemed in rage or in ecstasy, and her fingers either caressed or flew all over the keys. It always amazes me to watch someone who wasn't just playing the music but living it. By the time the intermission came, it was only then that I realized I was sitting there by myself.

I went out and found my friends in the lobby. They came in after the concert started, and they were wearing black. I spent most of the intermission chatting up my friend Ross's sister who is a music major. Then we went back in and there were more people in our section. The second half, she played Schubert's Impromptus Op.142, D.935, Liszt's Annees de Pelerinage and Walking on the Waters, and the Mephisto Waltz by Liszt and Busoni.

The encores were also delightful. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what they were, because I have absolutely no idea. It was weird being around music majors. When they started discussing the second movement of this piece and how the No. 1 in F minor as played by this musician was a bit more fluid. I was lost. Then they asked if I wanted to see another concert with them this weekend, classical of course. I said I already planned to go with another group of friends to watch Cynthia Alexander. Who was Cynthia Alexander. Er.

But the recital was fun. A bit different from my usual fare of "angry sounding people who are making life for their esophagus difficult" -- this was how a friend of mine described the music I listen to. Originally, my friend wanted to watch the June 17 concert. But the guy who bought the tickets for us said that there was no Cecile Licad concert on the 17th, my friend's birthday. Instead he got us the tickets for these. So no birthday concert. Then later we learned that Cecile Licad did play last week -- she was guest pianist at the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra concert. Anyhow, I think this was better because there was no orchestra to crowd out her music. And she really was fascinating to watch. It's like watching a demon possesion, and I mean that in a very good way.

[ p.s. After the recital I milled around the lobby some more with my friend's sister, with the crowd waiting for Cecile Licad. My friend's sister wanted to have her Chopin's Etudes lyric sheet signed. She told me about all the times they waited for artists to sign their tickets/programs/books only to discover they didn't have pens. This time she was ready and determined. When we finally got close to Ms Licad, all she managed to do was sort of squeak. But Ms Licad signed her book and said in a really low voice, "Thanks for coming." Then several seconds later, my friend's sister said, "It was like she was saying 'Pare..'" Weird. We love her nevertheless. Feh. ]

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