View From the Wing
By Pablo A. Tariman

It is quite gratifying to know that classical music and classical musicians remain in good use during gatherings of heads of states and parliamentarians.

Classical guitarist Aaron Aguila III at ASEAN welcome dinner at Shangri-La.

In the last APEC meet, pianist Cecile Licad suddenly found herself in a group of pop musicians all performing in a post-dinner concert for heads of states. In that short rendition of Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude, Licad probably found a fan in the person of the US former president Barack Obama.

Before the recently concluded ASEAN meet, impresario and now Pangasinan Congresswoman Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas asked me what sort of music she should offer ASEAN parliamentarians in a welcome dinner.

Knowing her partiality to classical music (she was the one who brought Pavarotti and Bocelli in Manila), one suggested classical guitarist Aaron Aguila III, last year’s top winner of the National Music Competition for Young Artists and 2015 first prize winner of the Jakarta ASEAN International Guitar Competitions.

Arenas listened to Aguila and decided on classical guitar favorites to open the dinner for parliamentarians and with some popular tunes thrown in.

Classical guitarist Aaron Aguila with Pangasinan Congresswoman Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas and author.

On the day of Aguila’s special engagement at Shangri-La Hotel in Makati, classical music was all over the establishment. One entered the lobby with a chamber group playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D with hotel staff in pink gowns welcoming guests from ASEAN.

In one’s assigned function room, one saw Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez with Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas and Arenas who is the chairperson of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Diplomacy.

As it turned out, the standard favorites sank in with great acceptance and it was probably that crowd’s first exposure to pop music interpreted by a classical guitar.

New converts of classical guitar music: Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

But when Bach’s Fugue and allegro BWV 998 and Piazzolla’s Invierno Porteno were heard, the dinner atmosphere changed and you noticed the sound of expensive silvers suddenly stopped to focus on the classical guitarist.

During Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” one could see heads turn including that of the Speaker of the House and the Majority Floor Leader with guests like H.E. Dr. Nurhayati Ali Assegaf​, Chair of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation and Head of the Indonesian Delegation and

H.E. Mahn Winn Khaing Thann​, Speaker of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw) of the Myanmar Delegation.

New converts of classical guitar music:: Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas with Congresswoman Arenas

“The Speaker and his guests loved the classical guitarist,” gushed Arenas who succeeded in giving wide exposure to favorite classical guitar music to the foreign guests.

Here’s hoping more Filipino classical musicians surface during international gatherings such as this one to show the world Filipinos are such highly musical people.

Aguila is all set to open the 2017 Catanduanes Music Festival on May 12 along with Sting Asistores.

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