Quach, Coke: Awesome duo/Music Underkonstruction


An overflow audience attended the Bel-Air Park performance of conductor Helen Quach and violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata. The significant program exhibited Quach’s exuberance, vitality and vigor, her characteristic fire that drew from the Manila Symphony Orchestra exciting, throbbing tones.

In Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Overture, Quach’s energetic thrusts underscored its contrapuntal power and its diverse leit motifs. In Smetana’s highly descriptive Moldau, the turbulence of the river diminishes to give way to a picturesque folk festivity, then returns to its initial turbulence, and eventually dies as the river flows into the sea, the piece ending in a thunderous burst of sound.

The excerpts from Bernstein’s West Side Story recreated vivid scenes of the Romeo and Juliet tragedy. In sum, the audience was magnetized by Quach’s effusive demonstrations of diverse musical styles.

Poise, assurance and solid authority combined with virtuosity marked Bolipata’s interpretation of Bruch’s Concerto in G Minor; he remained unfazed by the complexities of the cadenzas, his sensitive nuances expressing the movements’ emotional content.

The closest ensemble work existed between soloist and conductor both in the Concerto and in the Meditation from Massenet’s opera Thais, with the “religious fervor” and “romantic ecstasy” of the orchestral interlude’s violin solo contained in the utterly exquisite lyrical lines. These were impeccably and flawlessly — and how soulfully! — rendered by Bolipata.

Audience uproar led to a repeat of this number, and earlier, to the MSO’s rousing interpretation of a Hungarian Dance by Brahms. Quach and Bolipata, whose international credentials are similarly impressive, made an awesome duo, indeed. Congratulations to Barangay Captain Victor T. Gomez Jr., Bel-Air Village Association president Antonio Ma. Guerrero, and Women of Bel-Air chairman Constancia Q. Lichauco, Manila Symphony Society president Carlyn Manning and pianist Carminda Regala. Also present was Maestro Oscar C. Yatco, Coke’s first mentor.

“Beyond Brahms” at the CCP auditorium featured the new works of eight young composers, “Music Underkonstruction”, under the auspices of Miriam College’s Institute for Orchestral Development headed by MC president Patricia Licuanan. MU No. 1 consisted  of compositions for orchestra; MU No. 2, of works for orchestra and voice; the recent MU No. 3, for orchestra and violin.

Concertino No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra by Jan Cabuguas, beautifully lyrical, hewed to the classic-romantic mode and a balanced orchestration. “The Dream Catcher” by 17-year old Kim Cruz had a percussive opening and intricate plucking devices. “Fantasy” by Manuel Concepcion opened with bird-like chirping, finishing in an angry, agitated mood as did Juro Feliz’s Ipagdugtong ang mga Piniraso whose initial passages evoked a murmuring brook.

Except for Concertino No. 1, Kabaitan Bautista’s Sa Loob ng Isang Oras, Feliz Macahis’ French-titled piece, Louise Ybañez’s Isfero as well as the rest employed avant-garde methods that proved their conversance with contemporary Western composers. Conductor Josefino “ChinoToledo impressively illustrated his own authoritative manner over the far-out technical devices as he conducted the youthful Metro Manila Community Orchestra. Bolipata delineated and etched these technical devices effortlessly and brilliantly, after which he played Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major with ease, power, and dramatic intensity alternating with fluid lyricism — all of which spelled virtuosity. Yet, he may have been nearing exhaustion by then, having previously played the students’ works without interruption!

Attendance was rather disappointing. One hopes that elite patrons might be enticed to extend their support to young, promising talents. Further, major business executives who are actually music sponsors could be induced to pass on the many tickets they buy to students and music lovers, rather than keep these tickets in their desk drawers. How many are anxious to attend concerts but cannot afford to!






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