International Women’s Day

[I originally wrote this as a Facebook post yesterday.]

Come to think of it, women educators have been very influential in my musical journey!

me and Linda Catlin Smith
Juro Kim Feliz and mentor Linda Catlin Smith (Toronto, 2017).

Despite having completely different aesthetics from mine, composer Linda Catlin Smith provided provoking perspectives when I worked under her for the PIVOT Mentorship Program during 2017. As a result, I now consider Pangkur as one successful prototype out of my attempts in making sense of my scatterbrained self.

During my studies in McGill University, composer Melissa Hui gave so much of her time in my 100-page graduate thesis, professional development, and guidance in some music that unfortunately never received their premieres yet.

She and musicologist Roe-Min Kok supervised my proposed special project (in what I considered as my rebellion) when I got flustered with course offerings in McGill at one point. I was late at our first meeting and Roe-Min scolded me upfront, but she prodded me to produce a relevant annotated bibliography for my research covering Southeast Asia’s contemporary music scene while I write a paper under Melissa. The rigour felt rewarding afterwards–this research eventually culminated into a polished paper a couple of years later, which I presented at Nief-Norf Summer Festival’s “New Asia” Research Summit in 2018. “Examining an Imaginary of ‘Asia’ in Philippine Contemporary Music” now awaits its forthcoming publication in the Philippines. More papers will come out of this research in the future.

Hiroko Nagai, Raissa Odi-Pineda, and Wakaba Nishijima were my Japanese koto mentors way back. Hiroko-sensei introduced me to Tadao Sawai’s music, which I grew to love among the vast koto repertoire. Playing the koto was always a reminder to me that a composer needs a holistic understanding of musical cultures and strategies of decolonising one’s mind.

Christine Muyco introduced me to CSound and reel tape composition way back. The work I produced at that time was so basic and meh, but sound programming resonated with my interest in computers since high school. After focusing so much on acoustic music for a long time, my coding noob self jumped shores to Supercollider, now that I regained that interest.

Minda Amoranto, Avelina Manalo, and Nita Quinto sealed their mark in my piano studies. But it was Avelina who totally whipped me up in shape with her legendary prowess in pedagogy. I don’t perform nowadays (nor do I feel capable anymore), but my current teaching practice is indebted to her emphasis in technique which I now pass on to piano students.

But of course, it all started with mom and the John Thompson Grade 1 piano book.