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Music in the city

By: Jullie Y. Daza

“MUSIC hath charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Or, in our present circumstances, to smooth away the stress and strain – and cacophony – of city life. 

Ironic that only in the city do we find a place and occasion for concerts and recitals.

Almost as if there’s a season for such melodiousness in the big city, following the powerhouse concert of pianist Ingrid Santamaria a fortnight ago, two musicians who are most active and dedicated in interpreting and propagating the charms of music will perform separately in the next several days in Makati. Pianist Mariel Ilusorio and Friends, i.e., her chamber music allies, get romantic with Chopin Dreams on Sept. 21 at Ayala Museum. On Sept. 23, violinist Chino Gutierrez will display a spectacle of intricate bowing and fingering techniques for his farewell concert at BDO Francisco Santiago Hall before he leaves to begin his scholarship in Universitat Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

Mariel and her violinist-husband, Juan Muñoz, have been leading the charge to popularize chamber music, particularly among students who are too often intimidated by the immense demands of symphonic music requiring huge orchestras, spacious halls, and magnanimous budgets. Which is why the highlight of next Wednesday’s intimate concert will be two recently discovered concertos for piano and strings, transcribed by the composer himself, “the poet of the piano.”

When Mariel is not busy tutoring her little girl who plays piano, flute, and violin, she is teaching other young people, the best chance for her to spot promising talents. To “string” along with her in Chopin Dreams are Juan and their friends Michael Vargas, Mhaze Lim, and Giancarlo Gonzales. 

Chino, whose brain has been wired, unfairly, for music, math, and languages, was a scholar at Philippine Science High. Now, after a chain of musical championships he’ll be immersed in Mozart’s birthplace, the reward for passing an audition reserved for 200 aspirants from around the world, of whom only four would be chosen. Four became three, and the one who is ours will play for us his audition piece, Ernest Chausson’s best-known composition, Poeme. Chino’s violin was acquired “on loan” from a private group who prize the value of investing in art on behalf of a nation’s soul.