Lawrence Aliganga performs at the 17th Terras Sem Sombra Festival
As part of the 17th Terras Sem Sombra (Lands without Shadows) Festival in Alentejo, the municipality of the Ferreira do Alentejo, located in southern Portugal, played host to the open-air solo piano concert of Madrid-based Filipino pianist Lawrence Aliganga entitled, Um Pouco de Música Nocturna: Sonatas, Quase-Sonatas, e Algo Mais (A Bit of Music: Sonatas, Quais-Sonatas, and Something More).
The concert was held early this month at the Lagar de Herdade do Marmelo, a technologically advanced olive oil mill, whose production area was converted into a stage for the evening’s concert. The architectural structure of the olive oil factory of the Sovena Group, designed by the Portuguese architect Ricardo Bak Gordon, reflects the modern olive industry in Alentejo today.
The concert program began with the remarks from Sarah Foncesa, executive director of the Terras Sem Sombra Festival, who welcomed the audience for being part of the outdoor performance of the pianist.
Ferriera do Alentejo Mayor Luis Antonio Pita also provided his remarks where he expressed his appreciation to the Philippine Embassy for their active participation in this year’s festival as well as in the previous festival in 2019. Mayor Pita looks forward to more collaborations between the municipality and the Philippine Embassy in promoting the rich cultural heritage of both the Philippines and the Alentejo region.
Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Celia Anna M. Feria explained in her remarks the visual Philippine theme of the concert, which highlighted the common tradition of the art of weaving between the Philippines and Ferriera do Alentejo. Much like in Portugal, weaving is an integral part of our Philippine culture. Our weaving tradition predates the arrival of the first Europeans to the islands we now call the Philippines. The Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães arrived 500 years ago on the island of Guian, now part of the Philippine province of Samar, said Ambassador Feria.
After the remarks of Ambassador Feria, Aliganga began the concert with a diverse repertoire, which combined sonatas by composers from the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Scarlatti (Sonata in D minor, K.9), Beethoven (Sonata n.º 21, Op. 53, in C major), and Liszt (Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi sonata), and pieces by contemporary masters such as Arvo Pärt and Stephen Sondheim and Filipino folk music by Filipino composers Augusto Espino (Tarantella, based on Pen Pen de Sarapen) and Rodolfo Cornejo (Caprice on a Folk Song).
Our weaving tradition predates the arrival of the first Europeans to the islands we now call the Philippines. The Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães arrived 500 years ago on the island of Guian, now part of the Philippine province of Samar
An audience of 200 people from various regions from Algarve, Alentejo, Lisbon, and Central Portugal and members of the diplomatic corps were awed with the mastery of Aliganga’s piano technique as he gave them an expressive and intimate piano concert performance. A resounding standing ovation was given to him after his performance to show their enthusiastic appreciation to the Filipino pianist. This is the first international performance of Laurence Aliganga outside Madrid.
Aliganga, who was born in Madrid of Filipino parents, is a rising star in the Spanish classical music scene, where he graduated from the Arturo Soria Conservatory of Music and from the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio, under the supervision of renowned Spanish musician Alberto Urroz.
The 43 pieces of the colorful banig from Basey, Samar, a collection of Ambassador Feria, were displayed on and around the concert stage to showcase the ingenuity of Philippine mat weaving. The banigs, which became art centerpieces on the stage, provided the audience an artistic and cultural experience, as they enjoyed the beautiful music.
The piano concert was a result of the synergies of the Philippine Embassy, Terra Sem Sombra, and the Municipality of Ferreira do Alentejo to provide an inclusive cultural experience and immersion on the rich and vibrant heritage of the Philippines through music and handicrafts.
One of the more popular festivals in Portugal, the Terras Sem Sombra Festival is on its 17th year. Inaugurated in 2003, it aims to promote the various municipalities in the Alentejo region, through music, cultural heritage, and biodiversity conservation. The festival also showcases foreign cultures, which gives the Portuguese the opportunity to deepen their understanding of cultural diversity.