Finally, a cello idol on Manila’s music scene
MANILA, Philippines - The cello event not to be missed next Monday, June 30, at the BDO Francisco Santiago Hall is the first team-up of Filipino cellist Victor Michael Coo and Taiwanese pianist Ya-Hsin Wu.
Coo is the prize-winning cellist who figured in a historic, unaccompanied cello recital last year in the same venue and got a standing ovation (he had played without the benefit of an assisting artist).
Three years ago, the young cellist debuted with the Manila Philharmonic under Rodel Colmenar through the Dvorak concerto and got an ovation a cellist hardly got in this country.
After the concert, Gemma Cruz Araneta said that with that, kind of talent, this country, indeed, had hope.
Upon seeing the euphoric response of the Philamlife audience, music lover Tita de Quiros proclaimed: “At long last, Manila has found a new idol ng bayan.”
I first heard Coo in the mid-1990s in the winners’ concert of the National Music Competition for Young Artists when he was only 14. At the time, I had yet to hear an exciting Filipino cellist (after Chino Bolipata and Willie Pasamba) in a setting that adored mainly pianists, singers and violinists.
To be sure, this country isn’t lacking in good cellists, such as Renato Lucas, who is often heard as principal cello of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, and Yosef Inacay, who recently played first-rate chamber music with pianist Cristine Coyiuto.
But in the late 1990s, to see a young talent shine in Bach Suites and a Barber sonata before he reached the age of 16 was truly unbelievable.
For that reason, I lined up the then 17-year-old Coo in my first and last Bicol International Music Festival, which was opened by Cecile Licad and graced by Joseph Esmilla, Willie Pasamba and Andrew Fernando, all of whom got standing ovations in their individual performances at Albay Hotel.
More following for cello
Coo’s entry into Manila’s music scene has gained more followers for the cello and made it equally exciting as the piano, violin and the human voice.
When I first heard the exquisite line of French cello legend Pierre Fournier at the CCP in the ’70s, I thought the cello had something unique which could not be found in the piano or violin.
When I presented my first cellist in the person of Brazilian gold medalist Antonio Meneses with Licad, I thought the cello deserved more following than it had at the time. (It is likely, though, that people who flocked to the Meneses cello recital and listened to the Roccoco Variations came en masse because of Licad, who brought the house down as soloist in the Saint-Saëns piano concerto.)
At the time, the Licad-Meneses duo was the dream team. But when I heard the recording of the Beethoven cello sonata with Licad and German cellist Alban Gerhardt at the New York Metropolitan Museum, I thought I just heard the most likely inheritor of the throne of Yo Yo Ma.
Art patron and environmental activist Odette Alcantara said she wasn’t kidding when she said Coo was the country’s answer to Yo Yo Ma.
In the Philippines, the cello appears to be in the doldrums for lack of a personality that could challenge tradition without parting with the great tradition of the past.
Indeed, in a celebrity-driven culture, an art without a visible figurehead risks media oblivion.
What is the solution to the pretty small following of the cello in the Philippines?
British cellist Steven Isserlis, whom Coo admires, says it all: “Play better. If you play better, people will listen better. If they listen, they will feel better.”
Coo is doing just that, and his formula for a good performance remains the same: “Keep your audience involved. There is always the danger of detaching oneself from the audience. Realizing that a performance without people listening is the key.”
Beside his June 30 Manila engagement sponsored by the BDO and the MCO Foundation, Coo, with pianist Ya-Hsin Wu, will be heard in a master class at Miriam College Music Center and St. Paul University on June 29; Philippine High School for the Arts, July 1; UP College of Music, July 3; Northeast Luzon Adventist School of Technology in Alicia, Isabela, July 5; and Mountain View College in Valencia, Bukidnon, July 8.
以下是大提琴家 Victor Coo放在YouTube上的影音檔