Arts & Culture News

Cecile Licad returns at the Met March 19

Cecile Licad makes her second appearance at the Manila Metropolitan Theater on Tuesday, March 19, 7 p.m. with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Grzegorz Nowak

“I am honored to be performing for the celebration of Women’s Month in Manila,” said Licad whose last full concert in Metro Manila was in 2018 at the Manila Polo Club. “It’s going to be a very emotional homecoming as my dear friend Nedy Tantoco left the world much too soon. I will remember her and rechannel memories through my music. I can’t wait to pay tribute to all the great women in the world.”

Cecile Licad and Nedy Tantoco in 2022.

The pianist also said he is excited to work for the first time with the new PPO music director, Maestro Novak.

Licad is soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 which she has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Georg Solti.

Maestro Novak is just as excited. “I have to cancel one coming performance to be able to work with her,” said the acclaimed Polish conductor who has also worked with the legendary Martha Argerich who is a friend of Licad.

Maestro Grzegorz Nowak. First time working with Licad.   

The conductor said the list of soloists who have performed the Tchaikovsky warhorse with him is quite long. “This concerto was always scheduled during the Tchaikovsky Gala of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.  I’ve worked with Behzod Abduraimov, Seong-Jin Cho, Alexandra Dariescu, Laure, Favre-Kahn, Theo Gheorghiu, Freddy Kempf, Plamena Mangova, Alessandro Taverna, and of course with Roustem Saïtkoulov who was heard in Manila recently.”

Former CCP president Margie Moran Floirendo, now the interim president of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. (PPOSI) said the March 19 PPO concert with Licad, will also honor another woman who did a lot to help the PPO and promote Filipino talents. “She is no other than Ms. Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco whose devotion to the arts made a lot of impact in Manila’s cultural landscape. Her vision will continue to inspire us to work just as hard to promote local talents and most of all to support the national orchestra in its effort to achieve world-class status.”

Floirendo said the last seven concerts of the PPO under Maestro Grzegorz Nowak are ample proof that the national orchestra is on the road to achieving positive global status.”

New president of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society Inc Margie Moran Floirendo.   

She also commended the Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Culture and the Arts, for spearheading this timely Women’s Month celebration.   “Indeed, what could be more fitting for a Women’s Month celebration than to celebrate the highest achievement of the Filipino artist on the global stage.”

Senator Loren Legarda

The March 19 concert will be capped by the performance of Brahms Symphony No. 2 which is special to Maestro Novak. “This piece is very close to my heart,” he pointed out. “It is a phenomenal work full of drama and passion, beautiful themes and of perfect symphonic structure. One may notice significant difference between a typical Italian music, especially operatic, where the most important is a free melody, whereas Brahms builds his music from small passages forming short head-motives followed by main themes. The structure combines melodic element along with the development of basic motives, forming a perfect combination of both.”

The conductor, a grand prize winner of the Ernest Ansermet International Conducting Competition, said the increasing public acceptance of the PPO concert during the past several months is not surprising. “We work hard and in great details. Musicians are very committed and work on becoming better and better ensemble. And, even though it is hard work, we all enjoy getting excellent results.”

The concert will also highlight the phenomenal career of Licad.

Admitted at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia before the age 12, she left Curtis to join the. Institute for Young Performing Artists founded by her teacher, Rudolf Serkin at Guilford, Vermont.

Licad recalls her Vermont years: “Serkin’s school is in a rural area with a home and a house keeper where his special proteges worked in quiet solitude in a beautiful environment with constant musical lessons by one of the great pianists of the 20th century — Maestro Serkin. “

After private studies in Vermont, Licad’s career took her to five continents with distinguished orchestras around the world.

She was pleased that everywhere she performed, she is honored as the unique and original Philippine pianist in the history of the piano.

Cecile Licad with her late father. Dr. Jesus V. Licad and National Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag in past CCP concert.

“I had the most extensive tour ever in Japan with Seiji Ozawa and the new Japan Symphony. I played an unprecedented 18 concerts with the great composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davis conducting the Schottische Philharmonic throughout the United States. I had tours with Maestro Claudio Abbado in Spain and with the leading European chamber orchestras of Europe.”

Also memorable was her stints with the Budapest Philharmonic all over Germany and her special engagement in Freiburg, Germany with the Russian State Orchestra.

Recently on David Dubal’s radio show “The Piano Matters” during the introduction of Licad’s new CDs, the noted music lecturer referred to her as “the great Filipina piano artist who has perhaps the largest technical equipment and musical imagination of any living pianist.”

A recipient of Presidential citations from President Corazon Aquino (Presidential Medal of Merit) and from President Benigno Aquino III (Pamana ng Lahi Award), Licad has served in the jury of several international music competitions namely  the   Hilton Head International Piano Competition (South Carolina), the   66th ARD International Music Competition (Munich Germany) and the  2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition and Festival ( Maryland, USA), among others.

Invited to the concert are dignitaries from the Senate, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, business leaders, socio-civic stalwarts, educators from state colleges and universities, young artists, and music students from various universities.

The Women’s Month Celebration at the Met is spearheaded by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Culture and the Arts, in collaboration with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) with its chairman Ino Manalo, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) headed by chairman Jaime Laya, and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. formerly headed by Zeneida Tantoco.

Described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “one of the great flaming talents that comes along one or two times in every generation,” Licad has just figured in an intimate recital at the historic Lotus Club in New York, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States founded in 1870.

The March 19 PPO concert is invitational.