Arts & Culture

Classical guitar bounces back

Classical guitarists and singers are on the rebound after being hit hard by the pandemic.

The one who can attest to that is soprano Stefanie Quintin, guest soloist of the PIMA Guitar Quartet on June 22, 2023, 7 p.m. at the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City.

PIMA stands for quartet guitarists Patrick Roxas, Iqui Vincculado, Monching Carpio and Adrik Cristobal.

“It brings me great joy that the pandemic is officially over as declared by the World Health Organization,” said Quintin. “Musicians can now perform everywhere without fear of losing engagements. I believe that after three years of being deprived of live performances, people are in dire need of art and culture in their lives. The clamor and thirst for live performances have paved the way for more performance opportunities thus giving musicians the chance to express themselves after a three-year hiatus.”

The soprano shares here experience in Cebu City when she performed in a show sponsored by the Cebu Arts Council in the town of Pinamungajan where they interacted not just with audiences but with aspiring young musicians and enthusiastic music teachers. “We felt the warm response of the audience in every piece that we performed,” she recalled.

Soprano Stefanie Quintin in Cebu with Lester Demetillo. Photo from Cebu Arts Council.

Soprano Stefanie Quintin in Cebu with Lester Demetillo. Photo from Cebu Arts Council.Soprano Stefanie Quintin in Cebu with Lester Demetillo. Photo from Cebu Arts Council.

She enjoys performing with classical guitarists even as a pianist is the standard collaborating artist for singers. “Since I perform close to them on stage, it is a lot easier to connect with them without having to adjust to the physical boundaries of the piano.”

Prizewinning classical guitarist Adrik Cristobal who struck gold in the recently concluded Guitar Grand Prix in Osaka, Japan echoes the soprano’s optimism.

“I think our guitar quartet is a niche market. As much as we want to go mainstream, that takes time and a lot of work. Hence, we limit our goals to what is possible within the near future before doing long term plans. Partnering with NGOs that have a cause to promote gives our artists a chance to exhibit their causes at our concerts. It’s a win- win situation. The main goal is to attract audiences outside of the music circle.”

Tying up with UP professor Lester Demetillo and guitar maker Armando Derecho in Cebu along with the local arts council yielded good results. “Cebu was very enjoyable indeed. It is a city of culture with varied involvements in music and dance. The aspiring musicians were friendly and willing to share their progress with us.”

With all the networking he has to do for his PIMA guitar quartet, Cristobal has very little time to celebrate his latest gold in the Osaka Guitar Grand Prix in Japan.

He has won a total of eight guitar competition awards both in international and local competitions including first prize at the Sakurai Kohno Guitar Competition in Hanoi Vietnam in 2022 and first prize at the NAMCYA Senior Guitar Category in 2020. 

“The Osaka Prize is one Japan’s most prestigious music competitions. My goal was to win both the advanced level and the professional divisions. However, I only won first prize in the advanced category and third in the professional category. Regardless of the outcome, I am glad that I was able to do fairly well in Japan where the level of competition is much higher than in Southeast Asia.”

Adrik Cristobal and his gold award citation in the Osaka Grand Prix in Japan.

Are the guitar audiences back for good based on his latest classical guitar outing?

“Within the niche, they are back for good. But I think a guitar concert alone is a lot work if one expects to attract new audiences. It might not even be effective. Collaborations with singers, other instruments, art galleries, film maybe even theatre, and other art forms will strengthen the audience growth because it will add variety to program.  What our group wants to do is put together a show and see what type of artist or artform can complement the show to make it more special. We’re reaching our 30s. We have to grow and look at music and the arts as a whole rather than stick to strictly guitar happening.”

The June 22 concert has an all-Filipino flavor as part of the observance of 125th Independence Day. “It is good to celebrate our own music and culture,” Cristobal added.

Featured numbers are   Filipino art songs and folk songs namely Malinac lay labi, Caturog na Nonoy, Usahay, Ano Kaya ang Kapalaran, Nahan 6 and Ang Maya, among others.

Patrick Roxas will also premiere his first composition for the Quartet that will be performed on June 22 and July 4 concert dates.

The July 4 show by the same group will take place at the Gravity Art Space in Quezon City founded and managed by artists Indy Paredes and Melanie Matias. “This art gallery is highly innovative in its quest to promote art development, promotion and cultural preservation.”

For inquiries on June 22 Yuchengco Museum concert, call (632) 8889 1234.

Gravity Art Space is located at J2JC+QP9, Mo. Ignacia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.  No. +63 923 145 5719.