Conservatory of Music alumnus and classical guitarist Bernardo Soler holds his solo recital "Echoes of the World" on Aug. 12 at the Manila Pianos Showroom, Makati. (Photo by Josh Nikkolai S. Bravo/ The Varsitarian)

A Melbourne-based Thomasian classical guitarist staged a homecoming and comeback recital after a four-year hiatus, at the Manila Pianos Showroom in Makati on Aug. 12.

Conservatory of Music alumnus Bernardo Soler’s solo recital “Echoes of the World” was his first performance since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I stopped playing classical guitar for about three to five years and this year, I decided to come back to promote Philippine music around the world,” Soler told the Varsitarian.

“This is my first time, but when I go back to Australia, I will be playing more Filipino compositions to encourage people to learn different kinds of cultures,” he added. 

Soler opened his recital with the Spanish classic “Malagueña,” which he arranged to fit the solo performance.

He also performed Japanese compositions “Ha Na Wa Saku” by Yoko Kanno and “Sakura Theme and Variations” by Yuquiro Yocoh, the Filipino classic “Maalala mo Kaya” by Constancio de Guzman, and the Tagalog folk song “Lulay.” 

The Thomasian guitarist said the setlist and theme reflected his music, which “is like a part of different compositions from different countries.”

Soler played a total of 16 pieces and an encore. 

In an interview with the Varsitarian, the classical guitarist admitted that the pandemic was a difficult time for performers like him.

“During the pandemic, I was in Australia. Sometimes we do online performances and teach [lessons] online, that’s how I survived,” Soler said. “But at the same time, nothing, you just put your guitar down.”

He said performances and recitals could be a way of reintroducing Philippine music to the public after the pandemic. 

Soler graduated from the University in 1989 with a major in classical guitar. 

He had won several classical guitar competitions such as the Concurso de Guitarra and National Music Competition for Young Artists in 1981 and the 6th Philippine Guitar Competition and Southeast Asian Guitar Competition in 1982.

Soler was also the first classical guitarist to represent the Philippines at the Concourso International de Ejucacion Musical Dr. Luis Sigall in Chile in 1988.

“I see a lot of good players here, but I will advise that they continue their talent. Practice and do a lot of concerts, that’s just how they get better and better,” he said. 


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