An Interview with Bob by Malcolm Conlan
Thanks so much Bob for agreeing to an interview for Fil-Event.com,
Thanks so much for asking me Malcolm!
How did you hear about the site?
I first heard of and used the site back in 2011 when my wife and I brought Ballet Manila to London for the first time at the Shaw Theatre, Camden.
Tell me more about you and your interests?
Obviously music is my main interest, but I also love football and going to the theatre. I love family time, and with two young children I try to spend as much time with them as possible, which can be hard sometimes as I travel a lot.
Do you eat Filipino food and what's your favourite?
Yes I do. My wife is the Filipina Singer and Actress Gia Macuja, so we eat a wide variety of dishes at home. My favourites are Adobo, Pancit palabok, Sinanglay and even Taba ng talangka. I draw the line at Balut though, although I have tried it.
What do you like about the Philippines and have you been there before?
I think I have been to the Philippines about 25 times so far, with my first visit being back in 1989 for a concert tour. We now visit about twice a year. It is a varied and beautiful country, with a rich and diverse history, but I think the most impressive aspect for me is the people. I have played in most of the countries in the World where western classical music is popular and Filipinos are completely unique. They are so uplifting, generous, humorous, kind and spontaneous.
We are promoting your latest project, can you tell us more about it?
The concert features two very well known pieces by Mozart and Schubert together with the world premiere of Jed Balsamos work, Piano Trio No.2, commissioned for the London Piano Trio by The Inter-Cultural Society of London. This work is very innovative, accessible and pleasing to the ear, and marks the first time a work by a living Filipino classical composer has ever been premiered in London. The evening promises to be a feast of wonderful music, full of inspiration and distinction.
What inspired you to work with a Filipino composer?
As I have spent many years working in the Country, it has frustrated me that the music of many fine composers is completely unknown in the West. I first worked with Jed Balsamo three years ago, and muted the idea of a collaboration, but it was only last December, whilst having a coffee together looking over the beautiful Manila Bay that we decided to set it in stone, and now hopefully the rest will be history.
What's the classical music scene like in the Philippines?
It is very active and vibrant, but like the UK lacks funding. As Jawaharlal Nehr said The art of a people is the true mirror to their minds The Arts are so important to any Country but cannot be quantified on an accountants spread sheet, so politicians cant see that by funding it they make money, because enriching a people cuts down on crime etc, thus reducing the strain on the treasury coffers. I could go on like this for hours, but we, as does the Philippines need more help.
Have you performed in the Philippines?
Many times actually. My first visit being back in 1989 for a concert tour and the next time will be at Christmas in Manila. I have played concertos and recitals at the CCP and Aliw Theatres amongst other venues and have also conducted the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and have a regular collaboration with Ballet Manila.
I am hoping my London Piano Trio can visit soon also.
In December I will continue my work as a mentor for La Sistema, working with the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth, something that I love doing.
Lastly why would you encourage Pinoys in the uk to watch your concert?
Obviously because it is a great concert, but also because it is a monumental and historic event, and will help to put the Philippines on the Artistic map, and help encourage people to get to know the musical culture of the Philippines. Please come and support us.