A fitting way of saying, ‘Thank you, George!’
- Leah C. Salterio () - February 5, 2006 - 12:00am
The impressive line-up of performers alone was a good come-on for people to see the concert. The beautiful melodies in the repertoire created by a brilliant composer were also reasons enough to sit down for more than two hours and listen. Plus the fact that the show was done with good intent – you get to help build a church and donate part of the proceeds to the Red Cross – makes you benevolent about being there.

That’s why, despite the endless hype for more than a dozen forthcoming Valentine concerts, Kuh Ledesma’s concert-tribute to the late George Canseco, Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, packed the huge Plenary Hall of the PICC last Jan. 27. People came to watch, listen, help and appreciate good music.

Ambitious is how the concert can be described. That’s not surprising, considering it was Kuh’s concept and direction. She’s been known to stage really good productions in the past. And being the perfectionist that she is, Kuh definitely didn’t settle for less.

In November last year, Kuh was inspired to stage the first concert-tribute to Canseco, who died in 2004. She led an elite pack of performers who rendered the timeless and unforgettable tunes created by the esteemed composer. The concert became highly successful. That’s why Kuh felt a repeat was significant.

Certainly, the full-house crowd which trooped to the PICC that night was already familiar with most, if not all, of the Canseco-written pieces that were performed. But the concert made the audience swoon anew to the stirring melodies and poignant lyrics penned by Canseco. He was such a prolific songwriter, even the younger generation can appreciate his inspiring compositions.

A full orchestra backed up the all-star line-up of artists, whom Kuh had gathered for the performance. To commence the show, she sauntered onstage in a pristine white, off-shoulder gown as she carried out the hauntingly sentimental piece Dito Ba, which was also her first big hit. Then she segued to Bulaklak, also one of her signature tunes which Canseco translated into Tagalog from the original French and English versions.

Basil Valdez, who undoubtedly had a career-making record with Canseco’s most beautiful masterpieces, emerged onstage and received loud applause for his medley of Ngayon at Kailanman, Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan and Kastilyong Buhangin. Seldom do we see Basil live onstage lately, but he certainly knows when to perform in a good show.

He later dished out an inspirational piece, Salamin ng Buhay. In the second half of the concert, he pitted his vocal prowess with Kuh in Ngayon, also his original recording. He also regaled the audience with one of his memorable pieces, Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan.

Christian Bautista was included in the show to allow today’s young generation to appreciate Canseco tunes. By this time, the 24-year-old Christian, a product of ABS-CBN’s singing contest, Star in a Million, no longer needs to prove anything to music fans. He can croon even a difficult ballad like Pinakamamahal. He later sang with Kuh the popular paean Ikaw, which the pop diva originally did with Martin Nievera in the first show.

Canseco also wrote romantic duets like Magkasuyo, which Kuh rendered with Joey Generoso, lead vocalist of Side A band. Members of band showed up onstage to sing the beautiful a cappella version of Kailangan Kita, originally recorded by Leah Navarro. Later in the show, Kuh did a reprise of the same song as a duet with Piolo Pascual, who, aside from looking dapper onstage, also made an impression with his good vocals.

Rey Valera regaled the audience on how he and George shared a small cubicle for two years, working together "day in, day out" nearly 30 years ago. Rey recalled how George would convey the most horrible jokes like, "Composers don’t die, they just decompose." And yes, they collaborated on a Tagalog ballad, Sinasamba Kita (for which George put the heart-rending melody to Rey’s lyrics), that became Rey’s concert piece that night.

As if the full orchestra was not enough, Kuh even enlisted a harpist, Noelle Cassandra, to complete her astounding version of Tubig at Langis, a Sharon Cuneta hit.

The concert had divas galore on the list. Dulce displayed her vocal pipes with Ako ang Nagwagi, her winning song in the Hong Kong Music Festival in 1979. With Kuh, she pitted vocal histrionics in Paano and Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. Pilita rendered the immortal classic, Kapantay ay Langit, complete with her signature back-bending moves.

Regine Velasquez, who added star-power to the show, unselfishly waived her talent fee to sing for a cause. She belted out the poignant Sana Bukas Pa ang Kahapon, and did vocally challenging duets with Kuh in Saan Ako Nagkamali and Kahapon Lamang, which were beautifully arranged.

In case we easily forget, the nationalistic ditty Ako ay Pilipino also came from Canseco’s songwriting flair. To cap the show, Kuh rendered Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan.

Canseco was indeed a music gem whose works have been immortalized by today’s artists and through the many generations that will continue to sing and appreciate his music. Kuh’s concert-tribute was only fitting and truly appropriate for a music genius who gave the industry some of its unforgettable tunes.

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