The Manila debut of French pianist François Chaplin with the Philippine Philharmonic under maestro Yoshikazu Fukumura was crowned with big success after an all-Ravel program billed as “Ravel Unraveled.”
The concert commemorated the signing of the Treaty of Amity on June 26, 1947 which formally established diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines.
The program opened with Ravel’s La Mer then highlighted by concerto in G with Chaplin as soloist. Grand finale was the all-time orchestral favorite, Bolero.
Musicians in the audience including pianist Mary Anne Espina cheered the French pianist who was heard at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the first time.
Espina noted his performance thus: “He did very well. There was so much color in his playing and one thought the interpretation of the second movement was the best. Nuances were very, very clear. One must say he is a very sensitive pianist.”
Encouraged by the warm reaction, Chaplin obliged with two encores: a Chopin Nocturne and a Mazurka.Also among the musicians in the audience were pianist Mariel Ilusorio and her violinist husband Juan Munoz and conductor Rodel Colmenar, who heads the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra.
On the whole, it was an evening of French music at its best and a fitting tribute to the Franco-Philippine Friendship for 70 years.
The French pianist trained at the Paris Conservatory under the tutelage of Bulgarian pianist Wentsislav Yankoff, and later with French pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier.
Chaplin has recorded the complete works for piano by Claude Debussy and Frédéric Chopin’s complete nocturnes and has graced concert halls from Paris to London and Mexico, among others. He is also piano professor at the Versailles National Music Conservatory and has conducted master classes on French music at the Conservatory of Saint Petersburg and the University of Montreal, among others.
The proceeds of this concert will go to the rehabilitation and housing projects of the France-Philippines United Action (FPUA) Foundation, the first foundation in the world to be administered by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
FPUA was created following the destruction created by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in 2013. Today, the foundation works with French donors to implement programs on housing rehabilitation, health and children’s welfare. Upholding the principle of “Building Back Better Communities,” FPUA has completed two rehabilitation sites in Daanbantayan, Cebu, and provided over 200 disaster-resilient houses in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines and the Philippine Red Cross. A third village with 46 permanent houses and a multipurpose center will soon be completed in Bogo, Northern Cebu which is expected to benefit more than 250 persons who still live in disaster risk areas.
The June 22 all-Ravel concert was made possible by the generous support of SSI Group brands Lacoste and Longchamp, as well as by Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, and Air France –CONTRIBUTED
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