Strong, passionate and dedicated, the Poetess of the Piano reveals the person behind the persona
Cristine Coyiuto is considered one of the top pianists in the Philippines. Epitome of Elegance, Pianists’ Pianist and Poetess of the Piano are but a few of the titles she has earned in the realm of music.
“It’s up to the listeners to decide which title best suits me,” says Coyiuto. “I work hard, and I’m very grateful to the critics who come to view the concerts.”
Coyiuto has performed in numerous recitals in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. She also played as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Chamber of Orchestra, New Westminster Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse, Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Other notable performances were with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Manila Chamber Orchestra, the Metro Manila Orchestra, and Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra. With all of her past performances and critically acclaimed concerts, there is no room for doubt about that Coyuito is a true musician.
She admits that music has always been a part of her life. Growing up, her parents often brought her and her siblings to classical concerts. “After a good performance, I would feel very inspired,” she says. “Then I would tell myself that someday, I would be a musician.”
Although her parents were not musicians, they were a big influence on her. Their family loves classical music, a love that was expressed through her father's LP collection. Every morning, her father would wake them up to play them his favorite records. There was no need for words during that family ritual, they just sat and listened to music.
At the age of three, she began to study the piano under her mother's supervision. “She taught me to read the notes, before the alphabet,” Coyuito shares. At the age of nine, she made her stage debut at her first solo piano recital.
She continued studying piano under legendary pianist Rosario Picazo at Sta. Isabel College in Manila. She also attended the famous Julliard School in New York as a pupil of Jacob Lateiner, where she received her master of music degree with high honors in 1977.
After Julliard, her training brought her to Europe, where she grew under the tutelage of renowned pianists Gaby Casadesus, Nikita Magalof, Fou Ts’ong, and Philippe Entremont. She was also lauréate of both the Académie Internationale de Musique Maurice Ravel in France and the Genéve Conservatoire in Switzerland.
The Music Room
Coyiuto has never envisioned herself on another path. She confesses that she really loves music, and it shows in her continuing to live her dream despite her busy schedule. The Poetess says she tries to play every day, but that music often has to compete with housework. She says, though, that although she's devoted to taking care of her family, she would also love to try playing other instruments. “I've always loved the cello because it sounds like the human voice.”
A mother above all, Coyiuto can't help but gush about her talented daughter. “I am happy my daughter Caitlin plays the flute, the piano and the cello. She is part of the school’s orchestra and was promoted to principal cellist.”
“Caitlin is fifteen, and is very shy like the mother,” adds Coyiuto. “I’m glad she enjoys playing with me in concerts.”
Caitlin was also exposed to music at a very young age. Small wonder, really, since her father, James, says that their house is filled with two things: books and CDs. The Coyiutos also have a huge art collection in their piano room, featuring sketches of famous composers like Robert and Clara Schumann. James says that just by stepping into the piano room and viewing the collection, you are already a part of history. A history that the mother and daughter tandem is no doubt set to influence with their music.
Playing The Right Notes
Coyiuto says that no two instruments, even if made by the same artisans, are alike. Getting to know an instrument is personal, and even gifted artists have to adjust to its nuances and quirks.
“I try my best,” says Coyiuto. “The challenge is when you go to a concert hall, and you are supposed to play that evening. You are warming up before you try out the piano. Then, you are shown a piano. There is no other choice. You can’t choose another instrument. You have to work hard.”
And work hard she does, with rehearsals often more difficult than the performance itself. “You have to practice. You have to learn everything. It takes time, and it takes a lot of hours of work,” says Coyiuto. “But in any field or profession, you need hard work, dedication, discipline and [you have to ] enjoy what you do.”
Coyiuto says that her role as an artist is to bring notes to life, and to communicate with the listener. “You are like the instrument of the composer,” she says. “Our responsibility is to follow exactly what the composer wants, and then, share it with the audience. So it’s important to study the score, not just the notes.”
Although she has performed in concerts and recitals around the world, Coyiuto still dreams of performing in a concert hall with “good acoustics and a good piano.”
“It doesn’t matter who I play with,” she says. After all, it's about the music. “I can play with a professional as long as we understand each other, respect each other, share our ideas with each other. Then we can have fun afterwards.”
Print ed: 12/09