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By Pablo A. Tariman
April 25, 2016


        VIRAC, CATANDUANES – With passing vehicles blaring election jingles occasionally intruding into the concert venue, tenor Nomher Nival with pianist Gabriel Paguirigan had a triumphant island debut Saturday night at the Catanduanes Provincial Capitol Lobby.

        The audience conquest started with Malotte’s “Our Father” which easily hushed an audience who has not heard a live tenor sound in the last 22 years.

The applause for the first song number translated into  instant approbation and they got louder and electrifying as the islanders  cheered his Broadway numbers ("You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Climb Every Mountain") with more deafening applause and cheers. They broke into spontaneous  rhythmic applause after Lara's "Granada" by which time the audience didn’t know what hit them.

“We really had strange goosebumps listening to him for the first time. His ‘Our Father’ gave us a deep sense of the divine and with ‘Gaano Kita Kamahal’ for his last number, there was no doubt we were in the presence of  a young super tenor,” said Gay Nicanor who came with her children and asked for a picture with the visiting artist right after the concert.

Ending with "Una furtiva lagrima,"  “La donna e mobile" and "O sole mio," the tenor and the highly sensitive collaborative pianist drove the audience into virtual state of pandemonium.

The young ones cheered once more, the senior citizens were in the brink of tears and with not a few seen wiping their eyes  overwhelmed with joy. “He not only brought back the classic songs. He sang them with power and authority and I couldn’t help singing with him,” said music teacher Gregorio Sarmiento, Sr.

His lawyer-son Gregorio Sarmiento, Jr. agreed: “There were many things to admire in his repertoire. His singing of  ‘All The things You Are’ and ‘Be My Love’ and the classic kundiman, ‘Pakiusap’ brought me to the seventh heaven. I was still singing them before I went to bed. That’s how memorable that concert was.”

Mr. and Mrs. Lester Landig of Marem Pension House told this writer: “Wow, he is just fantastic. Count us as  one of his fans.”

The young tenor’s instant fans showed their admiration by posting their photos with the artists on FB just a few hours after the concert.

Dr. Alvin Ravalo posted on facebook: “It was a great night and we all enjoyed it.”

Another prominent doctor in the island who goes by the name of Dok Boboy on FB posted this comment: “That was the first time I ever saw a classical concert in the island and indeed it was memorable.The tenor sure knows his arias and was enjoying the night especially in the latter part of the concert. The audience was very appreciative. Looks like Virac is ready for a full-length opera.”

Among those entranced by the tenor was  Rev. Fr. Juan Lizaso, Jr. who delivered the invocation before the concert proper. He came with members of his Batalay Church Choir who instantly liked the tenor.

Said the rector of the Batalay Shrine: “Indeed this was a special treat for music lovers in the island. He easily conquered his audience who naturally wanted more songs.”

One of those who congratulated the tenor on FB was his teacher, Romanian diva Nelly Mircioiu with whom he stayed in London for lessons before the Virac concert.

Said the world-acclaimed soprano on facebook: “I am delighted and very proud of you  Nomher.”

The tenor replied: “Thank you so much Maestra Nelly! And I trust and will always put to work what you have taught me! Lots of love!  Hugs!”

(La Miricioiu who sang in Manila in 1980, 1984 and 2015 was a grand prizewinner of the Maria Callas International Voice Competition.)

The concert also brought out the best in pianist Paguirigan who explained his idea of artistic collaboration: “What I enjoy in the art of accompanying is the  exchange of energy and exchange of musical thoughts in creating beautiful music. So when we play together, there’s me and the other artist exchanging positive energy with the audience.”

(The April 23 Catanduanes performance of Nival and Paguirigan was made possible by sponsorship from Marem Pension House, the Catanduanes Provincial Government, Dr. Matthias Ackermann,  Catanduanes Tribune, Silangan Trading,  Tropang Turismo, Katandungan Travel and Tours and Sunwest Water and Electric Corporation (Suweco).)

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