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Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie


Violin prodigy Diomedes Saraza, Jr. takes a bow before the Carnegie audience.

NEW YORK— An electric charge flowed through the attendants on Saturday night as the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra took their seats onstage New York City’s historic Carnegie Hall for the first time. Music Director/Principal Conductor Olivier Ochanine led this historic debut, and featured performances by violinist Diomedes Saraza and Pianist Cecile Licad.

The concert opened with a upbeat piece titled Festive Overture, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich. It echoed the celebrations of 118 th Phi  lippine Independence Day celebrated just two weeks prior in New York and resounded both the country and orchestra’s long history and struggle to have led to their respective triumphs, today. For many performers, their dreams of performing in one of the world’s pre-eminent concert halls came true.

Some performers entered the hall, stunned by its grand splendor and with the knowledge that they would soon join Carnegie’s roster of world-class performers. The concert proceeded to feature solo violinist Saraza in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. For Mr. Saraza, his family of musicians assisted in his early interest in violin at three years old. He continued his studies at St. Scholastica’s College of Music in the Philippines, the trained with Prof. Basilio Manalo, and eventually with Prof. Arturo Molina of the Kiev Conservatory in Moscow. He began as a soloist at the Philippine Research for Developing Instrumental Soloists and continued his super-star ascension across the classical world to win numerous awards by himself and with his solo group. Currently, he has completed his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at the Juilliard School and has been admitted to the prestigious Yale University where he will pursue a Master’s degree in Musical Arts.

After a short intermission, Ms. Cecile Licad proceeded with her rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18. Ms. Licad’s lineage also predestined her musical destiny. Her grand-uncle was the well-known pianist and composer Francisco Buencamino and her mother, Rosario “Charing” Buencamino Licad was an accomplished pianist and piano teacher. At seven, Ms. Licad debuted as a soloist at the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Philippines under the helm of Col. Antonino Buenaventura. She was the first Asian to be awarded with the Leventritt Gold medal and has played in venues across the world with many major orchestras. Her natural talent coupled with hard work has made this her second appearance at this hall; the first was as soloist in the Steinway Piano Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2003. Licad returned last Saturday to represent these accomplishments and those of the orchestra.

Definitely, the success of these artists would not be possible without the accompanying orchestra. Established in 1973, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Their mission to be among the best in the world was validated with this performance at Carnegie Hall. Many of the Filipino and Classical community attended to loan their support and the atmosphere clearly demonstrated the amount of pride the audience had for the performers onstage. It was not only the dream of the artists, but also that of the audience. As the concert came to a close, a thundering applause rose from the audience with a heartfelt standing ovation.


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