In celebration of the UST Main Building’s 75th anniversary, the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, with the Center for Intercultural Studies, sponsored a piano concert featuring two of the Conservatory of Music’s talented professors—Julie Ann Hallazgo and Najib Ismail.

The musical presentation opened with a piece from Spanish romantic composer Enrique Granados, “Laments” or “The Maiden and the Nightingale.” The piece was full of tenderness and melancholy, with sudden outbursts of emotion. Hallazgo and Ismail rendered Garandos’ piece with effortless grace and precision.

“Malagueña,” a piano piece by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecouna, on the other hand, resonated with passion.

Meanwhile, “Ritual Fire,” an excerpt from Manuel de Falla’s ballet El Amor Brujo, started off with throbbing chords and quickly grabbed the audience’s attention. Falla’s music was characterized with spontaneous rhythms¾softly whispering one moment and swelling to a reverberating sound the next.

The first part of the musical presentation ended with two classic ballads by Filipino composer Ernani Cuenco, “Bato sa Buhangin” and “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal.” They played the two with heartfelt emotion that rendered well Cuenco’s beautiful music, filling the listeners with nostalgia.

The second half of the evening’s performance began with pieces by George Gershwin, like “S’wonderful,” which was included in the performance because the song came out the same year the UST Main Building was finished. Unlike the previous pieces with heavy tones, this piece was light and charming.

Leonard Bernstein’s “Tonight” and “Mambo,” from the hit musical West Side Story, served as the fitting finale. The tune of “Tonight” brimmed with longing and anticipation, a ballad sang by the ill-fated lovers Maria and Tony in a balcony scene in the musical. Meanwhile, “Mambo’s” frenzied, angry, and fervent rythms came with the strength and excitement of Latin music and dance.

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Whether they were rendering the poignant strain of romance or the zestful tune of the Spanish dances, Hallazgo and Ismail were a well-matched pair in a splendid performance.


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