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Elmer Borlongan and Plet Bolipata-Borlongan, mixing art, music, and technology collaborate on the St. Cecilia baby grand piano

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By DOM GALEON

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It is as much a marriage of two art forms as it is the marriage of two artistic minds. Real life couple Plet Bolipata and Elmer Borlongan’s collaboration on the St. Cecilia baby grand piano. But more than just showcasing two forms of art—music and painting—this project also highlights a technology that has made making music easier, more beautiful, and elegant.

Developed in Italy in the year 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the piano was envisioned to be a contrast to older keyboard musical instruments, the pipe organ and the harpsichord. Such is the story of any technology. And a musical instrument has as much technology as the most complex of computers today. Although considered a string instrument, t h e p i a n o d o e s n o t play like other string instruments. Instead of strumming or plucking or harping on strings, a musician simply has to press keys, making it relatively easier to create music from strings.

The cover of the baby grand features an image of St. Cecilia, considered to be the patroness of music in Catholic and Orthodox traditions. With feet on a mound of red roses, she is playing what seems to be a lyre. On the sides are muses, singing praises to music. True to the collaboration, the visual elements are representative of the styles of Plet and Elmer.

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TIME WITH ART AND MUSIC. Swatch Philippines president Virgie Ramos with friends Margarita Forés, Susan Joven, Thelma San Juan, Elmer Borlongan, Plet Bolipata, Jed Bolipata, Ambeth Ocampo, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, BenCab, Vicki Belo, Sheila Ramos, Ces Ramos, Mark Higgins, Sandy Uy, Babette Aquino-Benoit, Annie Sarthou, Gino Gonzales, Stephanie Chong, Sandy Higgins, Jugs Jugueta, Michelle Zenarosa, Andie Aguirre-Jugueta, Christian and Kat Bautista, Clarisse and Chris Tiu, Carlo Orosa, Joanna Ampil, Hayden Kho, Emil Yap III, Nestor Pagulayan, Miguel Ramos, and Rowell Santiago

Of course, a night of celebrating visual art, music, and technology wouldn’t be complete without a performance on the St. Cecilia baby grand at the piano’s unveiling earlier this month. New-York based artist and real estate broker Jed Bolipata played three songs: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” While the three pieces can be considered standards in piano performances, Gershwin’s is always a crowd pleaser. Composed in 1924, “Rhapsody in Blue” is the first piece that marries classical orchestral music with jazz, a growing genre at that time.

We poured hearts and souls into this collaboration. We worked to the creative hum of our marriage in perfect harmony

Apart from Jed’s masterful performance, some of the guests also had the chance to play on the St. Cecilia baby grand piano. Not many know that he plays the piano, soit was a surprise when basketball player and TV personality Chris Tiu started playing “All I Ask of You” from the musical Phantom of the Opera. Because he played it so well, he was joined by Joana Ampil and Christian Bautista who lent their voices to the music of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Broadway classic.

“St. Cecilia in all its glory,” said Plet. “We poured hearts and souls into this collaboration. We worked to the creative hum of our marriage—different styles, different heartbeats, different strengths, different visions—in perfect harmony.”

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