Islander in the City | Pablo A. Tariman:


The winning streak of classical guitarist Adrik Cristobal continues.

Adrik Cristobal. Latest top winner in the Thailand classical guitar competition.

After winning the 7th Valerio International Guitar Competition in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2019 and the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) in 2020, Cristobal again copped the top prize in the 2022 Thailand International Guitar Competition which ended last week of October 2022.

“Yes, I was competing in Thailand when Typhoon Paeng hit the Philippines,” said Cristobal

Also, a second prize winner in the Spanish Music Competition in Albi, France and third prize winner in the J.C. Arriaga Competition in Bilbao, Spain in previous years, Cristobal pointed out competitions actually give additional pressure that concerts don’t always give. “I join competitions for what it offers. It is a good training for musicians and a good exposure to the music world. I treat winning only as a bonus. I don’t think everyone enjoys it. Competition playing is different from creative style of playing. In my opinion it is mainly due to the expectations that the musician wants to meet.”

He also pointed out competitions involve a lot of strategy. “I used pieces that I’ve played for years in which I am more or less comfortable with. My goal was to do rundowns regularly of my program rather than study new pieces. I would say lots of slow practice and psychological conditioning helped a lot.”

The classical guitarist admits he enjoys the experience especially when he reaches the finals. “But when I don’t, I don’t feel so good after. You can say I have a love-hate relationship with competitions. But I think competitions is just something all performers need to experience to toughen up with regards to performing under pressure in public. Performing for me is no different than sports and professional wrestling. Conditioning is the most important. I usually try not to watch other competitors because it doesn’t help me focus.”

The members of the jury as posted in the official Thailand competition FB page were Dr. Diego Campagna (Italy), Padet Netpakdee (Thailand), Nutavut Ratanakarn (Thailand) and Dr. Tat Amaro (Thailand).

The competition was face to face and he joined the open category.

In the final round, he played Joaquin Rodrigo’s Invocacion y Danza and Vicente Asencio’s Tango Por La Casada Infiel.

Moreover, he is considering joining a few more competitions in 2023. “I’ll try to join as many as I can before I hit 32.”

The other Filipino prizewinner in Asia is Monching Carpio who won the Asian International Guitar Festival and Competition in 2012. “It’s a great privilege that two Filipinos represented the country by winning in the two prestigious guitar competitions in Thailand as well as in two of the oldest guitar festivals and competitions in the Southeast Asian region.”

Cristobal is all set to appear in a concert called Sounds and Senses at the Yuchengco Museum on Tuesday, November 15, 7 p.m. with other classical guitarists namely Monching Carpio, Patrick Roxas and Prof. Lester Demetillo. “We will have a variety of pieces aside from classical composers like Vivaldi and Beethoven, we will have world music pieces covering Japanese, Turkish influences, an original composition, Beatles, music with nomadic Gypsy influenced and of course, Filipino.”

He sizes up the future of classical guitar in the country thus: “I would say that the future for classical guitar or the classical guitarist living here is really up to the artists.  I’ve learned that a guitarist being purely classical is not so attractive in our society. One must learn to be a little flexible in performing cross over repertoire and balancing things out. Programing of the pieces is incredibly important in keeping enthusiasm from your audience. On the other hand, creative collaborations with other musicians and artist from other forms might be the way to go. Classical guitarists cannot limit his audiences to purely classical guitar enthusiasts.  The guitarist needs to adjust to the audience members that are new to the craft. In short, the future of guitar as a whole will depend on how the guitarist wants to project himself to his audience at large.”

What keeps him motivated as a musician?

The answer is short but direct to the point. “I am always motivated knowing that there’s still so much to learn. I like that as a step to not just improve as a performer, but to be creative while working with others too.”



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