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Our two living cultural divas

Our province is, indeed, blessed by these two ladies, who have kept our cultural scene going even during these pandemic times.

Both national and international prominence laid down trophies and awards at their feet but our local culture vultures seem to be nonchalantly and blissfully ignorant of their presence. Well, not anymore.

Take, for example, the recent awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Kaisa sa Sining Visayas Network announcement of Lyn Besa Gamboa’s KSSLAP (Kaisa Ini sa Sining Lunsay nga Artistang Pilipino) award that’s being held virtually this week.

Lyn Gamboa, 2021 Kaisa Ini sa Sining Lunsay nga Artistang Pilipino awardee; right, Leonor Kilayko with her new Steinway grand concert piano in her Talisay residence*
Lyn Gamboa in her Silay dining room; right, Noah and Solomon, cousins of Leonor K on her mother’s Sian side, attended the concert*

Giving recognition to Lyn’s cultural administration work for Negros Occidental, through the Negros Cultural Foundation, she has done exemplary work and service in cultural endeavors for our province. Started as one of the action plans and projects during a KSS regional forum in Roxas City in 2018, the CCP Cultural Exchange Department facilitated the conceptualization and planning of this commendable project.

Why is it important to recognize the achievements of the artists, cultural workers and organizations in the Visayas?

Professor at the University of St. La Salle Bacolod City, former chair – USLS Performing Arts Department, and artistic director, Jean Baptist Dance Co., Rene Hinojales, declares, “KSSLAP Awards go out on a limb to acknowledge valuable and commendable contributions of artists, cultural workers and organizations to the research, development, preservation, education and promotions of Philippine art and culture, especially in the Visayas. I trust and expect that this biennial act of recognition has and will continue to help everyone else understand what being exceptional looks like, sounds like and feels like!”

CCP CED department manager Chinggay Bernardo chimed in, “In our four decades of community cultural outreach work, we have experienced the unique and exceptional artistry, dedication and perseverance of many Visayan artists and cultural workers. It is, indeed, high time to institutionalize an awards program that will give recognition to outstanding achievements of Visayan artists, cultural workers and organizations. These awards will serve as an inspiration for the artistic and cultural communities in the Visayas to aim for excellence and do public/community service.”

The mad genius of Leonor allows her stray dog to guard her during her concert*
Leonor’s pet doesn’t allow anyone to go near her, even to offer a bouquet of roses*

Bravo to our unsinkable Lyn Gamboa.

Leonor Kilayko, who is an internationally-renowned concert pianist, now resides in neighboring Talisay City and yet, hardly anyone makes an effort to appreciate her incredible talent. Instead, LSK contents with passing time giving very intimate concerts at her home. She recently acquired a brand new Steinway imported all the way from Hamburg, Germany, where she had trained from an early age.

Making a stunning entrance in a flaming red taffeta silk formal gown, Leonor regaled us that night with a repertoire consisting of two Domenico Scarlatti sonatas, Robert Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood”, Waltz Nocturne Etude by Frederic Chopin, and 4 Preludes of Alexander Scriabin.

All the while, her pet stray dog was at her feet calmly lying down and listening under the 7 foot long train of her new concert grand piano. An encore piece was Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Siciliana”.

I particularly liked Kilayko’s rendition of Schumann’s “Träumerei” as it reminded me of an old movie with Katharine Hepburn, “Song of Love” musical theme. Of course, I was entranced by Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat major since it’s another familiar tune. With her new Steinway concert grand, Leonor was able to fully display her mastery on ornamentation and may I add that hers is quite elaborate.

LSK exploits the capabilities of an instrument to the fullest while keeping the core of such music independent on the instrument on which it is performed. I was amazed at her computerized memory, not a single page of sheet music was on the piano!

For her next solo performance, Leonor Sian Kilayko will do an all Schumann Solo, including his Carnaval, Op. 9. I wonder if she will do all 21 pieces that are connected by a recurring motif. Four notes are encoded puzzles, and Schumann predicted that “deciphering my masked ball will be a real game for you”.

We will definitely be curious as to how our coquette Leonor will perform these.

My prayer: You have searched me and you know me, Lord – Ps 138(139):7-12*

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