Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Kabayao Music Enchants Seoul!

The last time I saw him and his wife perform in public was when I was in grade school, still wearing khaki short pants and white polo shirts at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias City, Negros Occidental in the Philippines. His visit to our school was part of their campaign to bring classical music to the masses.  So, when Mr. Mylo Fausto, the cultural officer of the Philippine Embassy in Seoul mentioned to me that Mr. Gilopez Kabayao (the Maestro, no less!) and his family were flying to Seoul, I was excited! I had to meet them! I counted how many years ago since his performance at our school. But when I reached two decades while counting, I had to stop! Ha-ha-ha!
                             (Ambassador Cruz intro-
         introducing the Kabayao Family 
                 and Jimmy Tagala, Jr.)

So, on one cool spring night in Seoul, the Philippine Embassy's multi-function hall was turned into a concert hall with the diplomatic corps, the Embassy staff, some Filipino students in Korea and kababayans in attendance. This was like a very rare, must-attend performance as The Gilopez Kabayao was not just a violinist; he is the greatest Filipino violinist ever!
         (Gilopez Kabayao and his wife,
              Corazon, on the piano)

       (Gilopez Kabayao with daughters,   Sicilienne and Farida, on stage)

The Maestro was accompanied by his wife, Corazon, on the piano, while his two daughters, Sicilienne and Farida, both violin virtuosi themselves, completed the Kabayao Family Quartet that night. The Maestro and Mrs. Kabayao have a son, Gilberto, who couldn't join the family's trip to Seoul, and would have completed the quintet. But quartet or quintet, the Kabayaos still enthralled the audience with pieces like Brahm's Scherzo and Sonata No. 3 in D Minor (for violin and piano), Mendelssohn's Trio in D Major and Wieniawki's Legende. 
As the audience was mostly Filipino, the Kabayao Family brought a pasalubong for their kababayans in Seoul: a song about home, Bayan Ko. And they also played another favorite, one popularized by Basil Valdez, Nais Ko.
                                                          (Jimmy on stage)
One of the reasons that the Kabayaos were in Seoul was that the Maestro's student, Jimmy Tagala, Jr., was competing at the Seoul International Music Competition. And that night, Jimmy also impressed the audience with pieces like Ravel's Tzigane and variations of Bahay Kubo.

The Maestro is unbelievably now in his 80s, but still very strong. When he was still performing years ago, the Maestro had played in the concert halls of the world. And tonight, just like when he played at Carnegie Hall, Gilopez Kabayao always makes his audience realize that this was a special performance and this was a rare privilege to even sit there and listen to his music. And even if it was just for a night, the Gilopez Kabayao and his family have enchanted Seoul.

P.S. Thanks and congratulations to Ambassador Luis Cruz and to Mr. Fausto for organizing such very memorable concierto at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul.

        (The reception for the diplomatic corps before the performance)
I was able to capture a couple of videos of that night's performance: Brahm's Scherzo, and Nais Ko and Bayan ko.

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