January 23, 2018, 1:45 am
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Ingrid Sala Santamaria

In the Philippines,   would you believe that there are only two senior concert pianists still actively performing today?

One of them is Dr. Raul Sunico, former president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines whom I featured not very long ago as he received the highest award for the performance of his craft from no less than the Italian president.

The other senior Filipino concert artist is Ingrid Sala Santamaria.  Good-looking, intelligent, well groomed, impeccably well dressed, well informed,  gentle in her ways, and the epitome of a “giving person” as she shares her Art to a wide range of audiences, Ingrid Sala Santamaria early this month held a concert at the Meralco Theater with the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor, Professor, Arturo Molina.

Allow me to directly quote from the program given to everyone that evening. “Madame Ingrid Sala Santamaria, born in 1940 in Cebu city, received her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano at the Battig Piano School in Cebu City, under her mother Pilar Blanco Sala.  With the love and talent that she has displayed, it was but fitting that she took further studies at the Julliard School in New York under Josef Raeiff.  In 1962, she received her Master of Music degree from the Sta. Isabel College of Music in Manila under Aida S. Gonzalez.

 “Wanting to further hone her craft, her intensive coaching lessons continued throughout the years under the eminent Filipino pianists Bejamin Tupas, Reynaldo Reyes, and Jose Contreras.

 “In 2006, De La Salle University Manila conferred on her the degree of Doctor of Music Education, honoris causa.

 “From the time she started her love affair with the piano, she has had numerous performances – solo, chamber, and with the orchestra, in and out of the country…. As chair of the Cebu-based Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation, Inc. (SPSFI), she spearheaded a ten-year music Development Program which produced, in 1995, the Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), eventually evolving into the Peace Philharmonic Philippines (PPP) back in 2000.

 “The graduates, young and deserving scholars, have since reaped honors both locally and internationally.  SPSFI continues to serve the southern communities with its training and performance initiatives, with PPP being the only orchestra group in the south of Manila.

 “What makes Madame Ingrid truly remarkable is her penchant for continuous discovery, such as her entry into the YouTube arena since June 2008.  This has opened up a whole new universe for her.  She now has nearly 250 video segments on YouTube featuring not only recent concerts but vintage ones as well, which she tried to save from old Betamax and VHS tapes.  With both audio and visual aspects, understandably not being of the highest quality, she treats them as ‘Documentary Videos’ and shares them in that spirit.”

My angels must have blown me with the wind because for one good reason or another, it did not take me very long to get to the doors of the Meralco Theater from where I live in San Juan. I was amazed at how fast I traveled in my Grab taxi withstanding the severe traffic that early evening.

I was doubly surprised seeing so many people present that evening. Students; nuns in their brown, blue, white, grey or black habits; members of the clergy and other religious organizations; businessmen;  a large number of ‘women who lunch’; artists in the performing and visual arts; politicians; teachers; etc. etc.  – all of whom had lined up to enter the theater to assure themselves of a good seat.

Wherever people sat, they were totally treated to Ingrid Santamaria’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in C-minor Op 18 of Sergei Rachmaninov and Pyotr Hytch Tchaikosky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in Flat – minor, Op. 23.

Ingrid Sala Santamaria’s performance that evening was precise and full of energy. It was her gift to her loyal audience who have enjoyed her music in the past. That piano concert was a total success!

Indeed, the Philippines is fortunate to have this valuable ‘senior’ concert pianist cum artist who performs to uplift the Filipino soul…….
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