COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
One evening in January was set for romantic music. The Commonwealth Hall of Hotel Alejandro in Tacloban was elegantly arrayed; candles and flowers placed between the seats, near the rostrum, and right in front of the audience. The two pianos stood just a little farther from the glowing candles, and a little over a hundred people had taken their seats. The Romantic Piano Concert was about to begin.
Ingrid Sala Santamaria was on piano 1 while Reynaldo Reyes was on piano 2. Both pianists started with Edvard Grieg’s (1843-1907) Concerto in A minor, Op.16 (Allegro moderato. Adagio. Allegro marcato.)
The Norwegian composer somehow gave me that ethereal lift, with his light beat and warm, soulful melody. You could hear a few traces of folk tunes in between. And it was a refreshing and novel sound to me, having heard only a few of Grieg’s compositions from the compact disc. Then after about a half an hour rendition of Scandinavian music, Reyes and Santamaria stood up to the people’s applause.
The next performance proved to be more touching to the emotions, with Reyes and Santamaria rendering Sergei Rachmaninoff’s (1873-1943) Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op.18 (Moderato. Adagio sostenuto. Allegro scherzando.)
Rachmaninoff sears your heart, making you feel the nuances of joy and grief with his passionate music. The themes were so vivid with the imposing piano chords that one simply listens to brilliant tunes.
Actually, both concerti were written for piano soloist accompanied by orchestra. But in that evening’s performance the orchestral part was reduced to a second piano that was effectively handled by Reyes. Santamaria on the other hand expertly played the cadenzas and other piano solo part. With the displayed talent and rapport of the two pianists, both concerti came out modulated and clear to the ears. It was a splendid performance that made beautiful music more beautiful.
Reynaldo G. Reyes first acquired a baccalaureate degree in Music from the University of Sto. Tomas. He continued his studies abroad through a government scholarship; first, at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, France and second, at the Peabody Institute of the Johns HopkinsUniversity in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. He has won several international piano competitions and concertized around the world.
Ingrid Sala Santamaria started piano under her mother, Pilar Blanco Sala of the BattigPianoSchool in CebuCity. She went further studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, USA. Then after being featured as a piano concert artist for years she spearheaded the Salvador & Pilar Sala Foundation, Inc. that produced the 60-member Peace Philharmonic Philippines, a national orchestra of Southern Philippines.
That evening was my first to see Reyes perform and my second to see Santamaria, having watched her piano concert over a decade ago. Through the years and in between shuffling the islands of the Visayas, my exposure to live piano performances has been limited to student recitals, music for dining in a few restaurants, small shows in private lounges, and of course during the Sunday services in our church where gospel songs are being played (those with Irish folk tunes are my favorite.) But I was able to watch a lengthy piano concert (from classical to contemporary music) of Albert Faurot at the Luce Auditorium, SillimanUniversity in Dumaguete in my high school days.
So that night at Hotel Alejandro in Tacloban, with glowing candles and flowers placed between the seats, and a small number of elegantly dressed people gathered in a cozy room, with Reyes and Santamaria on the piano playing romantic music, all made up to one enchanted evening that I cannot forget.