While picking up the customised shirts for my kids at Maestro Rio Shop before the holidays last year, I found my friend, Nadia, packing some custom-made mugs and saw a familiar face. A very familiar face, in fact.
“Sumi Jo? In Manila? No way!!!”
“Yes way,” she said, “and it’s on February 1st next year.”
I would not miss it for the world! I know I could save up some money by that date, and I am so happy I did, and chose orchestra seats.
Fast forward to that date, my husband and I had events around BGC as well before the concert, so it was indeed a day well spent. However, he went home to our daughter ahead and I watched alone. Good thing we had so many friends watching as well.
I have been a fan of Korean soprano Sumi Jo even before I entered the College of Music. She was my instant favourite because of the Queen of the Night aria, Der Holle Rache.
I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately, it was not part of her repertoire.
Her program was a variety of opera arias, art songs, even musicals. The program seemed simple, yet her interpretation of each song was fabulous, riveting, and brought tears to my eyes (and I am sure to most audiences, too).
Despite the early difficulty of having the noisy airconditioning turned on, Sumi Jo displayed her virtuosity and professionalism, really deserving to be called diva. She then asked to have it switched off, and so even the Samsung Hall got a little warm, the audience did not protest and just enjoyed the diva’s voice and quirkiness.
I almost cried after her first song, Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark. It was so beautiful, her notes precise. Her interpretation of Lascia Ch’io Pianga still rings in my ears. The modern arrangement of Ari Arirang, the signature Korean song was powerful. What impressed us the most was her beautiful dimunuendos. She does it naturally!
What’s even more laudable are the collaborating artists, Najib Ismail on piano and fellow collegemate, Raymond Sarreal on flute. The three made wonderful music together, and the instrumentalists were going beyond being mere assisting artists.
For the second part, Ms. Jo wore a white gown, but since it was unfitted, she threw in her funny side to still carry it well.
We found out she donated her honorarium for UNICEF Philippines, especially for the relief operations of the typhoon victims. She also visited the beneficiaries of the concert, Tanging Yaman Foundation, a few days before the concert. Such a great act of charity!
She did not end the concert with her program, but with three more songs — Verdi’s O mio Babbino Caro, a Korean popular song especially for the Korean community in attendance (she was even the one who played on piano), and Schubert’s Ave Maria.
But wait, there’s more! She also conducted a voice masterclass the following day. I really would have wanted to sing for it; unfortunately I found out slots were already filled.
It’s always a learning experience to attend masterclasses even if you’re just observing. This is a good venue to find out more about the singer’s performing and teaching styles.
To all who made it possible, thank you for bringing Sumi Jo here! Kamsahamnida!