After over a decade, pianists Raul Sunico and Rowena Arrieta will be performing together again in Ritmo at Romansa, a duo concert that will be held at the Metropolitan Theater on Saturday, September 30.
Sunico and Arrieta brought Filipino piano wizardry to stages all over the world. Ritmo at Romansa with them on two pianos will give today’s generation a taste of their incredible talent. At the same time, it will give their followers a chance to once again experience the unique artistry that their fingers can create.
After obtaining two undergraduate degrees, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics cum laude, Sunico continued his studies in the United States. He got his Master of Music degree from the Julliard School in New York and his Doctorate in Philosophy, major in Piano Performance from New York University.
Sunico has performed in more than 32 countries and has been honored with numerous awards. In 1979 in Italy, he won the Silver Medal at the Viotti International Piano Competition and was a finalist at the Busoni International Competition.
A year later he was awarded the Henry Cowell Prize at the University of Maryland International Piano Competition in the United States. He was conferred the Steinway Artist Award in 2019, one of the most coveted prizes in the global piano scene.
Sunico is at present the Dean of the St. Paul College of Music and the Performing Arts. He served as President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines from 2010 to 2017 and was dean of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music from 2002 to 2016.
Arrieta was one of the first graduates of the Philippine High School for the Arts in Makiling. She later studied and graduated with the highest honors from the Moscow Conservatory of Music where Russian National Artist Yevgeny Malinin was among her teachers. She continued her studies at the Manhattan School of Music and was awarded the Elva Van Gelder Scholarship.
Arrieta won Fifth Place with the title of Laureate at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow at the age of 18. She later won First Prize at the Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition in Spain.
She made her American debut at the Lincoln Center in New York. She has since then concertized around Europe, the US and the Philippines. Reviews described her playing as “fevered demonic intensity and gentle sublime introspection” per The New York Times and “a combination of purity and fire” in The Daily News.
Sunico and Arrieta have put together a mix of old and new, classical and pop pieces for Ritmo at Romansa. Foremost among these are Filipino compositions from the 19th century that were discovered only recently and will be performed for the first time.
These are the Simoun Overture and Romanza Appasionata by Juan Hernandez; Sayaw (Festival Dance) by Antonio Regalario; Mandolina by Jose Estella; Danse Compestre, ob.11a by Julio Nakpil; La Fuerza del Amor by Diego Perez; and Kandingan by Rodolfo Cornejo. Poeme of more recent vintage by Carmencita Arambulo is also included.
Sunico and Arrieta are also set to perform some of their favorite pieces like the Italian Polka by Sergei Rachmaninoff; Libertango by Astor Piazolla; Gayane Ballet Suite by Aram Kachaturian; and the Blue Danube Fantasy by Johann Strauss.
In a move to popularize Filipino music on the classical concert stage, Sunico and Arrieta have included familiar titles expressly arranged for Ritmo at Musika. These are “Tanging Yaman” by Manoling Francisco, arranged by Rica Arambulo; “Kapag Puso’y Sinugatan/ Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan” by Willy Cruz and Baby Gil, arranged by Danny Tan; “Ikaw/ Ngayon at Kailan Man” by George Canseco arranged by Louie Ocampo.
Ritmo at Romansa is directed by Monino Duque. It will be held at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila on Saturday, September 30 at 8:00 in the evening.
Presented by Musika Pilipinas and produced by SATV, proceeds from the show will benefit the PARC Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the enrichment of education and the arts among young people.