Communication: Key to successful chamber music performance

The Trio da Capo: cellist Joseph Emmanuel Hernandez, pianist Gabriel Allan Paguirigan and violinist Marian Mayuga..


At first glance, the name of this trio sounds something straight out of the Mafia. But Trio da Capo is a musical phrase, too. The name has instant recall.

Pianist Gabriel Allan Paguirigan said, “We chose the name because aside from being easy to remember, it represents us. Da capo is a musical term which means ‘to go back to the beginning.’ Just like the three of us, we will part ways to pursue further studies, but we will definitely be reunited to learn more music together.”

The other members are violinist Marian Mayuga and cellist Joseph Emmanuel Hernandez. Like Paguirigan, they are either graduates or students at the University of the Philippines College of Music. Their Aug. 10 concert, “Piazzolla and Friends,” at 6:30 p.m. at the Ayala Museum in Makati City is their first performance outside UP and first performance as Trio Da Capo.

Paguirigan, a 2015 National Music Competition for Young Artists grand prize winner, has been friends with Mayuga and Hernandez before they decided to play as a group. He recalled, “We came together for Maan’s chamber recital at UP wherein we played Mendelssohn’s ‘D Minor Piano Trio.’ I enjoyed the experience with them because they are highly intelligent and are willing to experiment with our playing. They felt the same way, leading to another collaboration for Joem’s recital wherein we played the Brahms trio that we are playing on August 10.”

Asked if intimate chamber music has an audience in this country compared to the drama of symphonic music, he answered, “Not as big as that of, let’s say, choral music or orchestral music. I feel honored to perform with these young musicians. Doing chamber music with them has been fulfilling. I love their energy. I am inspired by their passion for making beautiful music.”

In a Facebook status, he stated. “Performing with Marian and is very special to me. They’re very good friends of mine who are extremely talented artists and share the same passion for chamber music as I do. It also feels like a dream come true for me that we get to perform in public officially as Trio Da Capo. I love you two.”

He continued, “Chamber music has always given me a different kind of joy, excitement, and fulfillment. I hope young musicians explore the chamber music repertoire more and experience the same in playing with other musicians.”

As to the key to successful chamber music playing, he cited “top-notch communication skills. Being good friends with the two, I feel more comfortable in voicing out my ideas to them, which helps in making our music-making more solid. From rehearsals to performances, communication has to be there. It can exist in so many ways from body cues to verbal communication. It also helps that we have similar musical ideas to begin with.”

Mayuga said, “We don’t have a team leader. That’s why we work so well as a chamber group. When playing music, we identify which of us has to come out more (e.g., solo parts) and adjust to each other aptly. In other matters, we consult each other openly before making decisions as a group.”


Trio da Capo will premiere composer Jed Balsamo's first piano trio. Paguirigan described it as “an interesting work quite different from his other works I’ve played before. This is more tonal, but like his other works, this is also very singe-able. This trio came to us as a surprise. We received the copy of the piece just a month ago. It’s not easy to play. We hope to give justice to Sir Jed’s work. I used to be a student of Sir Jed at a chamber music class at Philippine High School for the Arts. Playing his chamber work places a lot of pressure on me. The fact that this is a premiere of his work makes us more nervous.”

Mayuga said, “I only got to know Sir Jed when I played his composition ‘Andar’ for the 2015 NAMCYA for Strings and was awarded best interpretation of the contest piece. Like ‘Andar,’ his piano trio has allusions to Filipino folk melodies that give it a unique, almost familiar quality.”

Hernandez added, “This composition of Sir Jed is unique and exciting. In some parts, I can hear some adaptation of Filipino folksong melodies and styles of Tchaikovsky. This is my first time to play a work of Sir Jed. I feel so honored.”


To prepare for their performance, the three have individual and group practice time. They also are coached by Professors Luci Magalit and Arturo Molina. After a performance, Paguirigan said, “we treat ourselves to good food for our hard work.”

Asked about the tango music of Astor Piazzolla whose “Four Seasons” they will play, he said, “I am always excited to play Piazzolla because I get to play with more freedom. His style requires a musician to break away from the formal and ‘classical’ way of playing.”

Mayuga said, “The Piazzolla trio is very new to me in the sense that I grew up mostly learning the serious, formal side of classical music. This was the best way for me to learn to loosen up and express music in a wholly different way.”

Hernandez said, “Playing the music of Piazzolla is quite challenging for me because you really have to get the feel or the groove of the piece first for you to play it beautifully.”

Tickets to the Aug. 10 “Piazzolla and Friends,” call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or the Cultural Arts Events Organizers at 782-7164, 0918-347-3027 or 0920-954-0053.#

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