Ashkenazy: A Balikbayan / Ingrid's Chopin tribute

The Philippine Star, 3 March, 2010

Ashkenazy: A Balikbayan / Ingrid's Chopin tribute

Vladimir Ashkenazy, one of the world’s leading pianists, will perform at the CCP main theater on March 11 with his sons Dimitri, clarinetist, and Vovka, pianist.

Born in 1937, Vladimir quickly became Russia’s pride. In 1955, he placed second in the Warsaw Chopin Competition; the following year, he triumphed in the Brussels Queen Elizabeth Contest.

In 1963, he went to America where his career flourished even more. Soon after, he was concertizing around the world. He is actually a ‘balikbayan’ having performed in Manila under impresario Ralph Zulueta. I attended the concert, duly impressed.

Through the 1970s and 80s. Ashkenazy kept his staggering lead as concert pianist, then shifted to baton-wielding, becoming conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Music Director of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and Principal Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, successively.

Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra, he is Conductor Laureate of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He has had stints with the Cleveland and S.F. Orchestras, the Berlin Symphony, and other major ensembles.

Conducting has been Ashkenazy’s major activity for the past 20 years, during which time his piano career dipped somewhat. Although it has seen better days, he is now refurbishing his vast piano repertoire from which will be drawn the following selections at his March 11 concert with his sons: Schumann’s “Three Romances”, Lutoslawski’s “Dance Preludes for Clarinet and Piano” (1954), Poulenc’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” and Schubert’s “Divertimento al Hongroise for Two Pianos”.

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Eminent pianist Ingrid Sala Santamaria has uploaded a four-part series “From Chopin to the Philippines”, a 200th Birthday Tribute on Internet’s YOUTUBE.

The series traces Chopin’s and Liszt’s personal and professional association, to Liszt’s teaching of Chopin’s musical refinements to his pupils, among whom was Ludwig Deppe, teacher of Sister Baptista Battig.

The German nun Sister Battig came to the Philippines in 1907 and established the music department of St. Scholastica’s College in Manila. Her pupils Pilar Blanco Sala founded her own school and named it the Battig Piano School in Cebu City.

Ingrid, daughter of Pilar, was a graduate of her mother’s school, thus establishing a direct link to Chopin himself via strong pedagogical ties.

The Tribute series quotes from existing Youtube entries by Santamaria featuring highlights from Chopin’s Ballades, Preludes, Sonata in b minor, and the Concerto No. 1 in e minor with accompaniment by the Peace Philharmonic Philippines (PPP) String Quartet.

Santamaria will initially bring this Chopin 200th electronic Birthday Tribute to selected, qualified schools; senior citizen and hospital groups and community organizations. For info on prequalification criteria, email