LEA, LISA, CECILE: The Artist as Muse
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
The muses were an enduring theme in the ancient world. For the Roman scholar Varro there are only three Muses. According to Wikipedia, “one who is born from the movement of water, another who makes sound by striking the air, and a third who is embodied only in the human voice. They were Melete or Practice, Mneme or Memory and Aoide or Song.” Later myths expanded the three to nine.
In the Philippines, we have three legendary muses of our own: Lea Salonga, Cecile Licad and Lisa Macuja. Their recent concert THE LEGENDS AND THE CLASSICS ENCORE at the CCP exhibited them as the world-class talents that have been celebrated here and abroad. They are artists who have become muses; an inspiration to generations of singers, dancers and musicians.
Among the three of them the concert is most significant for Lisa Macuja Elizalde who is doing the last series of performances. Lisa has announced her retirement as ballerina. For those who missed The Legends series, Lisa Macuja still has several upcoming shows:
—Lisa will have four performances of La Bayadere—Nov. 14 and 16, 7:30 p.m., with Mikhail Martynyuk of the Kremlin Ballet; and on Nov. 15 and 17, 7:30 p.m., with Ballet Manila principal dancer Rudy de Dios, all at Aliw Theater, CCP Complex, Pasay City. The Manila Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of guest Russian conductor Alexander Vikulov, is featured in the shows on Nov. 14-16.
—The Nutcracker gala is scheduled on Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., followed by shows on Dec. 1 and 7, 3 p.m. The Dec. 7 performance is for the benefit of Smokey Mountain through the Philippine Christian Foundation. Presented by Ballet Manila, Manila Broadcasting Company and Aliw Theater, Swan Song Series 3 has BPI Credit Cards and Multimedia Exponents (MME) as major sponsors.
—And Heart 2 Heart: Ballet & Ballads, February 21, 2014 Friday 7:30 p.m. at the Aliw Theater
For tickets, contact Ticketworld at tel. 8919999 or ticketworld.com.ph. For inquiries or additional information, contact Ballet Manila at tel. 5255967 or 4000292, or visit websites http://www.balletmanila.com.ph and http://www.lisamacuja.com.
—LEA SALONGA has PLAYLIST A CELEBRATION OF 35 YEARS December 6 & 7, 2013 PICC Plenary Hall Tickets for PLAYLIST are available at http://www.ticketworld.com.ph .
—Cecile Licad Plays Rachmaninoff with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra Friday, Nov. 15, 6:30pm Amica Rush Hour Concert and Saturday, Nov. 16, 8pm at The Vets in Providence, Rhode Island.
“For too many centuries women have been being muses to artists. I wanted to be the muse, I wanted to be the wife of the artist, but I was really trying to avoid the final issue — that I had to do the job myself.” ― Anaïs Nin
CECILE LICAD —music when performed with true love and emotion can easily be seen through the face, Licad is prime example of this. It seems to flow from her. She gives musical director Gerard Salonga a quick glance and suddenly she is possessed by the melodies. Notes seem to pass from her fingers to the piano keys. The most complex and difficult pieces through her mastery of it, through her interpretation come out as emotion: PAQUITA GRANDE DISVERTISSEMENT, GOTTSCHALK and RACHMANINOFF-RHAPSODY ON A THEME OF PAGANINI. Her right arm would swing upward and stay there as if waving good-bye as a point to end a piece.
Licad is more than just the most celebrated piano prodigy from the Philippines. As a 19 year old she was then the youngest to ever win the prestigious Leventritt Gold Medal. It used to be a competition for violinists and pianists but evolved into an award for the most promising musical talent. The Leventritt Foundation in New York established it 1939 in honor of Edgar M. Leventritt, lawyer and patron of music. According to the New York Times, the award has launched many careers: “Among the winners have been Eugene Istomin, Alexis Weissenberg, Gary Graffman, Van Cliburn, John Browning, Malcolm Frager, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.” Licad’s facebook site also lists her performances with the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and National Symphony. The Legends had no less than the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
LISA MACUJA doesn’t move on stage, she floats. The power of legs and thighs in every leap is seen as grace. Every emotion on her face belies the pain, the strain on her feet and ankles. We were all mesmerized with Lisa Macuja and her partner Rudy De Dios in PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet.
As a photographer, I am fascinated with dancers. They easily convey stories through the use of their bodies and faces. No wonder some of the most famous actors have a dancing background, John Travolta and the late Patrick Swayze. Lisa is the pinnacle of ballet in the Philippines not just as a performer but also as teacher. Ballet Manila has become a rich pool of dancers as seen in Legends. Ballet Manila’s strength as a company was particularly evident in the elaborate choreography of PAQUITA GRANDE DISVERTISSEMENT.
Ryan Cayabyab originally wrote the opening number/song of NAIS KO and became a signature hit of singer Basil Valdez. The song speaks about the desire to create, to experience life, to travel. Both the music and lyrics capture that zest for life that these three legendary performers have personified. Lea Salonga’s vocals, Lisa Macuja interpreting through dance and Cecile Licad on piano for that one song was unforgettable. Having them together on one stage is certainly a dream come true.
And that song was just the beginning. Another combination, the trio of having the best pianist in Licad with cellist Francisco Llorin and Lisa Macuja performing the remarkable DYING SWAN (LE CARNAVAL DES ANUMAUX) proved to be a magical experience. The audience was so moved that an ovation could not be stopped even at the middle of the concert. A stellar combination such as that may never be replicated again.
LEA SALONGA shone with her Broadway selections most especially with FOR GOOD and DEFYING GRAVITY from WICKED. The CCP will also be the same venue for the hit WICKED on January 2014. Other songs may have become a staple from Lea: I DREAMED A DREAM and ON MY OWN from Les Mis and MEMORIES for Cats. I’D GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOU from Miss Saigon was also particularly meaningful for Lea. The Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo’s stage was where she first learned and performed the song during the audition for the show that launched her international career.
Lea’s voice has that sincere, clear and resonant quality which was perfect for the selection of Michel Legrand compositions: WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?, WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND, PAPA CAN YOU HEAR ME? Legrand’s work doesn’t just deal with love but regret and loss. Again it’s the emotion that Lea is able to put into the song that moves audiences. Especially in Filipino classics like HAHANAPIN KO composed by Jose Mari Chan and lyrics by Jimmy Santiago.
As grand finale they chose SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS written and composed by Willy Cruz made famous by Sharon Cuneta. Sharon has a new show with Ogie Alcasid called, “The Mega and the Songwriter” Sunday 9pm on TV5. As wonderful as Sharon’s voice is Lea Salonga elevated the song to even greater heights. Cecile Licad, impeccably played the song which was composed to be played on the piano. Lisa again interpreted the song through ballet, floating, moving becoming the song through her body.
Before singing their encore song of WHAT I DID FOR LOVE, Lea hugged Lisa saying, “We’re bigger than whatever heartache and disappointment that may come our way. And here we are now standing before you, women, mothers, artists and dreamers still. One day we may have to leave the spotlight some of us sooner than others. She’s retiring na kasi (hugs Lisa). We will be watching from the sidelines we will be teaching and coaching. One day we may not be able to offer you the fruits of our love as we do now. When that day comes we will know that our lives have been incredibly blessed and absolutely no regrets.”
This entry was posted on November 14, 2013 by jude bautista. It was filed under Art, Music, People and was tagged with ABS CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, Aliw Theater, Ballet Manila, Basil Valdez, Cats, CCP, CCP Trustee, Cecile Licad, cellist, Conductor, DEFYING GRAVITY, DYING SWAN, Editor, FOR GOOD, Francisco Llorin, Gerard Salonga, GOTTSCHALK, HAHANAPIN KO, Heart 2 Heart: Ballet & Ballads, I Dreamed a Dream, I’D GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOU, Jaime Laya, Jimmy Santiago, Jose Mari Chan, Jude Bautista, La Bayadere, LE CARNAVAL DES ANUMAUX, Lea Salonga, Les Mis, Leventritt Gold Medal, Lisa Macuja, Lisa Macuja Elizalde, lyrics, MEMORIES, Michel Legrand, Miss Saigon, Musical Director, NAIS KO, Ogie Alcasid, ON MY OWN, PAPA CAN YOU HEAR ME?, PAQUITA GRANDE DISVERTISSEMENT, PDI Lifestyle, Philippines, piano, PICC Plenary Hall, PLAYLIST A CELEBRATION OF 35 YEARS, PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet, RACHMANINOFF-RHAPSODY ON A THEME OF PAGANINI, Rudy de Dios, Ryan Cayabyab, SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS, Sharon Cuneta, Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, The Legends, THE LEGENDS AND THE CLASSICS ENCORE, The Mega and the Songwriter, The Nutcracker gala, Thelma Sioson San Juan, TV5, WHAT ARE YOU DOING THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?, WHAT I DID FOR LOVE, Wicked, Willy Cruz, WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND.