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12 February 2019

FOCAL POINT : Anne Rice, "Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis"

I FELL in love with Anne Rice's gothic fiction after seeing the film adaptation of her first novel, Interview With A Vampire, in 1994. Her writing was both sensuous and sensational, endowing her undead characters with nobility and munificence while plunging them into the insalubrious depths of horrifying and eventually tragic existence. I collected the first six volumes of The Vampire Chronicles, and stopped after moving to Israel in 2000. Physical bookstores eventually disappeared, making it tough to find the new volumes unless I went online. I never had the chance to go back to Ms. Rice.

05 February 2019

FOCAL POINT : Michel Legrand, "Cinema Legrand"

THIS IS Michel Legrand at his purest cinematic self, back in the sixties when film music was in its most uninhibited. His youthful exuberance on the conductor's dais is matched with his vibrant training in jazz and film scores, with strings reaching up to gloriously stratospheric levels to deliver that signature Legrand sound.

EPITAPH : Michel Legrand (1932-2019)

WHEN MICHEL Legrand passed away late last month, he left a large body of music for film and television, raging from the avant-garde to the more commercial productions. His music was romantic but never banal, original but never inaccessible. His most memorable works begin low-key, almost like a whisper, and then intensify in rhythm before finally surprising us with an unexpected jump from minor to major chord. His deep-seated love for jazz buttresses the playful, rhythmic, and sophisticated qualities of his compositions.

03 February 2019

The sounds of growing up, Part 3

DURING THE eighties and nineties--the latter days of his life--Papa would play classical music in his bedroom with the same passion that he had in his younger years. My brothers and I often wondered when our neighbors would finally show up complaining about the decibels. Thankfully, such moments never occurred.

The sounds of growing up, Part 2

MY PARENTS listened a lot to easy listening music. In the seventies, when everything seemed secondary to Manila's socio-political agitations, orchestral music was the perfect metaphor: it had unpredictable moments, yet it quietly fell into the background, moving along unnoticed unless it skipped on a scratched surface. Moreover, as background music, its sophisticated character matched the formality of family gatherings. (Those were the days of sartorial elegance: people dressed up even for dinner. Mama used to attire my siblings and me in similar, unobtrusive shirts and pants—yet another case of things falling into the background!)

The sounds of growing up, Part 1

ONE OF the special things about growing up in Manila in the early 1970s was the exposure to the choral music of Catholic mass. As a kid, I attended Sunday church enraptured with the liturgical chant, pipe organ, and full choir of the Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, the neighborhood church that my family attended. "Tantum ergo" was my all-time favorite choral hymn: I knew the Latin words by heart, even though I never learned what they meant!