The Mañalac Piano Duo Gives a Pleasant Late Winter Recital

Husband and wife duo Dr. Gabriel Mañalac and Rebecca Mañalac treated an audience of students, faculty, and community members to an hour of engaging piano pieces in Heiner Theater on Wednesday, Feb 21.

After a brief introduction from the duo, they began with French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Malagueña” and Mother Goose Suite, which begin delicately at first but evolve into textures layered and unpredictable.

Dr. Gabriel Mañalac said he appreciates how Ravel knows “how to make the piano your orchestra.”

It’s obvious that the two pianists have fun when they perform, embracing the music in the way they move their shoulders up and down and their heads back and forth in a sway, but their focus on the notes before them is equally visible. After Ravel, they transitioned into Margaret Garwood’s Suite for Piano Duet, which includes the pieces “March”, “Soliloquy”, and “Danza Glorica” – each paying homage to a certain internationally and historically significant composer.

Mañalac piano duo
Dr. Gabriel Mañalac and Rebecca Mañalac delight thier audience in Heiner Theater on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Photo by Sabrina Mossor, Horizon

Dr. Gabriel Mañalac said he knew he wanted to be a pianist in high school and was set on an education in music. Rebecca Mañalac recalled that her passion for the art began as early as five years old.

“Prepare your best for every performance” is a motto Rebecca Mañalac has remembered and held on to for much of her career in music.

Before ending with Logan Skelton’s set of seven American sketches, Rebecca Mañalac shared that she first encountered the sketches at a concert of his at Western Washington University. She also said she discovered that Skelton had studied under the same professor as both her and Gabriel, in Louisiana. The Mañalac’s performance of his folk-inspired pieces, including “Pretty Polly” and “Billy Boy,” was lively and playful, once more showcasing their joyful approach to pianism.

During the Q&A portion at the close of the concert, they opened up more about their journey toward professional musicianship and their perspectives on the changing landscape of the music discipline.

They joked about “not being able to practice past 8 p.m.” because it’s bedtime for their kid, and talked about finding time to practice their craft when time is so limited.

The event ended with grateful applause from the theater audience and grateful smiles from the Mañalacs.

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