The Curtis-trained Cecile won the Levintritt Award at 19—as the youngest, the first woman and second Asian to top the oldest, the toughest, and the most prestigious tilt in America.
Cecile has played with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, the London Symphony under Claudio Abbado (who was rendered speechless at concert’s end), the National Symphony of Washington under Mstislav Rostropovich, the Pittsburg Symphony under Andre Previn, the London Royal Philharmonic under Charles Dutoit, and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. Among others who eagerly wielded the baton for Cecile were Kurt Masur, Neville Mariner, Michael Tilson-Thomas and Pinchas Zuckerman.
The dreaded New York Times critic Arnold Schonberg, on hearing Cecile perform under Mehta’s baton, wrote: “Not surprisingly, she had the notes in her agile fingers, but she had something more, which the audience responded to without a shouting ovation . . . an appealing combination of grace and fiery power.” On her concert with Solti, the Chicago Sun Times commented: “She can produce great, soaring tones in the class of Rachmaninoff himself.” Of a recital the same critic wrote: “She is extraordinary—one of the great flaming talents that comes along one or two times in every generation.” Legions of admirers fill the hall at every concert of Cecile in Manila but few seats are taken by foreign music lovers.
At the initial FrancisFest meeting, plans to ensure the event’s success were discussed by FrancisFest Chairman Amelita Guevara, Parish Priest Fr. ReuJose C. Galoy, OFM and committee members Edmund Lim, Suzette Gatmaitan, Dee Chan, Lourdes de Leon, Girlie Sison, Tina Teehankee and Jaime Blanco.
Reprinted with permission. ENCORE, The Manila Times, July 25, 2015