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Cecile’s way

WHEN Cecile Licad lets down her hair – when she’s wearing jeans, a loose Indian shirt and sandals, for example, she sweeps it up into a perky samurai knot on the top of her head and lets the loose strands fall or stick out where they may.

That was how she was dressed when she arrived at Carlitos and Bibeth Siguion-Reyna’s home for a casual dinner, where the bienvenida was also the despedida. Cecile arrived Monday with just enough time to touch base with family and friends, pick up a gown by Monique Lhuillier at Rustan’s, catch her breath, then exhale and relax. By Wednesday evening (last night) she was in Hong Kong performing with Lea Salonga and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under Gerald Salonga. The private event for Manny V. Pangilinan was held in a 250-seat theater, with Cecile playing Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto and Lea singing the best of Broadway’s memorable hits.

Cecile will be in two other concerts in June. On the 18th she will be at Carnegie Hall, New York to reprise Rach 2, this time with Olivier Ochanine conducting the PPO. Violinist Diomedes Saraza will perform Sibelius’ violin concerto. At a later date in the same month, Cecile hopes she will be able to play all three movements of her grandfather Francisco Buencamino’s Mayon concerto for piano and orchestra. The music sheets of the second and third movements are missing, according to Cecile’s mother Rosario. It is a loss as big and as deep as a sinkhole in the lives of the composer’s heirs.

The rest of Cecile’s at-home time in New York – where she does her own laundry – will be spent brushing up on the Romantic music (18th century) of American composers, who are not as well-known, not even in the US, as their European peers.

For Cecile, the joy of playing the piano is more than an eight-hour exercise of her fingers on the keyboard every day, like going to the office. Luckily for her, there are all those delightful Jimmy Choo shoes to shop for and walk in, like a queenly reward at day’s end, whether she’s working the pedals on stage in formal gown or not.

For the rest of us with a little background in classical music, is it too much to wish that the new government of President Duterte will find a way to tap a bit of money for the arts and culture from the R164 billion turned over to President Aquino by Government Owned and Controlled Corporations?

The gods of music know how sorely our musicians and performing artists need the financial support of taxpayers and their government.