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O forse, l'ho già perduta poco a poco...
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The late Avelina Manalo (1926 – 2009) was a formidable piano pedagogue in the Philippines who nurtured excellent concert pianists under her tutelage. Her piano pursuits led her into studies in Russia and Italy during her younger years, along with numerous performances in the homeland and abroad. My piano training came at a later period in her life, and I grew to realize after her demise that I know little of her, despite our strict weekly regimen during my high school years.
My growing curiosity in her life as a brown-skinned Filipina artist in Europe fused with my reading of Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, where fictional dialogues between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo revealed accounts of bizarre cities merely alluding to Polo’s hometown, Venice. At the same time, I was studying Maurice Ravel’s Jeux d’Eau in commemoration of Avelina’s legacy to me. Despite having no encounters with Ravel’s piano music during my time with her, his music became an unexpected vessel of her memory like how Calvino’s Marco Polo recounted Venice through the guise of foreign cities. This piano work is the resulting culmination of these different threads of remembrances.
- Juro Kim Feliz (October 16, 2018)
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