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Typhoon Ingrid

by Jullie Y. Daza

TYPHOON Ingrid swept into the stylish Meralco Theater, throwing bolts of lightning and thunder while unleashing two of the most powerful war horses of the piano repertoire, and left everyone gasping.

It’s not every day that we hear Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto no. 1 and Rachmaninov’s no. 2 being played in the same concert, together, in one night, not only because both works are equally demanding of soloist and orchestra, but also because it’s well nigh impossible for the performers to get away with one or a dozen false notes or chords, given that the music is highly popular among “experienced” listeners with their acquired preference for soaring melodies and crashing crescendos. 

But that’s how Ingrid Sala Santamaria wants it. She will exhaust herself, practising and exercising seven hours a day, and she will choose difficult pieces, “Or what’s the point?” She might as well play Chopsticks. Considering that the lady is 57 years old – if you like, make that 77 by adding the 20 years that she was on sabbatical to teach Spanish at the International School in Makati and then to develop a program that produced scholars and Peace Philharmonic Philippines, the only youth symphony orchestra in Cebu – she’s not about to stop, not yet. She has had the audacity to play in seven venues in one day, and her concerts are now in 250 video segments on YouTube.

Some years ago Ingrid told me, “Mozart will be good when the pianist is mellowing.” There was no Mozart within hearing distance last Monday night, and as if Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov were not challenging enough, she had to add a tricky movement from a Mendelssohn concerto, again accompanied by the orchestra. (When performing an encore, most soloists do so sans orchestra, usually for lack of time for rehearsals, which means Ingrid worked harder and longer than required by the “main course” of the concert.) 

The Manila Symphony Orchestra under conductor Arturo Molina was a revelation. Fresh-faced and brimming with enthusiasm, the musicians earned their share of the bravos! That poured forth from the audience – they couldn’t wait to jump from their seats to applaud soloist and accompanists.