FILIPINO GETS TOP PRIZE IN JAKARTA ASEAN GUITAR TILT; FRENCH CLASSICAL GUITARIST’S RECITAL ATTRACTS BIG CROWD
by Pablo A. Tariman
The music news of the week is that classical guitarist Aaron Aguila from the Philippines won first prize in the Jakarta ASEAN International Guitar Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia last November 22 besting 24 participants from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
The 24 contestants were narrowed down to 12 and with the last six finalists fighting for the top prize.
Aquila’s nearly missed the chance to compete because his passport fell short of six months validity required for international travel.
But he hurdled the difficulties just in time for the competition. “I was surprised because the competitors were really good. I feel good because this is my first taste of the top prize and I was told it was a unanimous decision,” he told Arts News Service.
Earlier, Aguila played “Danza de Molinero” by De Falla as one of the opening numbers in the concert of French classical guitarist Judicael Perroy last November 12. It had inner fire and was a clue to his bravura capabilities.
Meanwhile, Perroy had a well-received recital at the UP Abelardo Hall November 12 on the eve of the attack of terrorists in Paris.
Using a vintage Greg Smallman guitar, Perroy had his sizable audience at the palm of his hand opening with Bach’s Suite in G Minor BWV 997.
Used to the sound of Bach suite on a cello, this guitar equivalent seemed to have a sound quality all its own and it’s unusual that one took to the sound as though one was listening to Bach suite for the first time.
The suite for guitar (with its cello equivalent in one’s memory bank) did sound like one had totally left Rostropovich version to hear how it should sound with (Andres) Segovia.
It must be noted that the cello version had notes that were too low for guitar and thus interpreters had to put them an octave higher to follow its original key.
What came out from Perroy’s Greg Smallman guitar is a solid sound that offered a lot for Bach followers.
You appreciate its smooth mellow qualities minus the percussive element when you hear the piano version. You reckon that the Bach for guitar offered more elements of passion and romance than the cello counterpart.
Perroy easily connected with the predominantly guitar crowd and it is probably because he is a very involved performer conscious of his instrument but equally conscious about the reactions of his audience.
Thus after the opening number, he explained the finer points of his repertoire in a manner that thoroughly showed his sense of humor.
At one point, he opined that Takemitzu’s “Equinox” was probably based on a Matisse painting but for the life of him he could not see the connection which caused ripples of chuckles from the audience.
As it turned out, his four part Bach Suite was seamless, a gem of an interpretation that shone from the inside and left you craving for more.
Villa-Lobos’ Suite Popular Brasiliera was musically well-nuanced and his controlled virtuosity in Dubez’s Fantaisie Sur Des Motif Hongrois certainly reflected a high level of artistry.
Takemitzu’s “Equinox” was like a minimalist painting done with few bare strokes but leaving a grand impression.
Agustin Barrios’ “Choro de Saudade” left its mark where it should and Perroy’s instrument offered lots of poetic moments with exquisite taste intact.
Manuel Ponce’s Sonata III evoked everything Mexican in his piece and to this Filipino music lover, the piece just confirmed the historical affinity between the two countries.
Ending with Albeniz’s “Sevilla et Cataluna,” Perroy entranced a full crowd at the UP concert hall and with the prolonged applause, he obliged with an encore, Leopoldo Silos’ “Dahil Sa Isang Bulaklak” which again sounded like a new piece even with its familiar melodic lines.
A winner of the 15th Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, Perroy rallied more guitar enthusiasts in his recital that was clearly impeccable and without any trace of the banalities associated with prize-winners.
The recital also showcased two Filipino classical guitarists who rendered two highly inspired opening numbers: Roneil Santos and Aaron Aguila.
On the whole, the November 12 recital was a memorable night the classical guitar reigned supreme.
The next day, Perroy woke up to the news of Paris under attack. He cried while talking to his family in Paris and was distraught because one of the landmarks attacked was the Petit Cambodge which was just ten meters away from his house.
He had to take two motorcycle rides to NAIA because the APEC organizers had the roads to the airport closed. Aguila along with another prizewinning guitarist, Ramoncito Carpio, took turns helping him with his luggage.
Perroy’s November 12 recital was presented by Independent Philippine Art Ventures, Inc. and co-sponsored by Total Philippines and Philippine Veterans Bank, among others.
The next classical guitar happening is on December 10 at the Ayala Museum and will feature the UP Guitar Orchestra under Lester Demetillo.