Charisse Baldoria is an international prizewinning Filipino pianist whose repertoire ranges from the traditional classics to Hispanic and Southeast Asian music. At home as a soloist and collaborative musician, she also incorporates dance, poetry, and the visual arts into her concerts.
Originally a Fulbright scholar from the Philippines, she has given concerts in five continents and was a prizewinner at the San Antonio International Piano Competition, among the top pianists of the Sydney International and Hilton Head Island International piano competitions, first prize winner of the Society for Musical Arts competition, two-time winner of the University of Michigan concerto competition, and first prize winner of numerous competitions in the Philippines.
In current programs, she negotiates with her Filipino identity, juxtaposing the indigenous with the colonial, and performing music from and inspired by Southeast Asia and Spain, of which the Philippines was a colony for 333 years. Her CD, Evocación (Blue Griffin label) features music inspired by flamenco and tango, with pieces by Albéniz, Piazzolla, Falla, Scarlatti, and Buencamino, a Filipino composer. Her new CD is scheduled to be released in January 2016 and features music inspired by Southeast Asia with works by Lou Harrison, Colin McPhee, Godowsky, Debussy, Gareth Farr, Ramon P. Santos, and others.
Charisse has performed in Australia, Argentina, Spain, Finland, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Myanmar, and Japan. She has given a solo recital at the International Festival of Spanish Keyboard Music (FIMTE) in Almería, Spain, a series of concerts sponsored by Spain’s Ministry of Culture and the Instituto Cervantes, and concerts in Argentina. Awarded a grant by the Cuban Research Institute, Dr. Baldoria did research at Florida International University’s Díaz Ayala Collection, the world’s most comprehensive Cuban music collection. Her musical explorations have also taken her to Brazil and Indonesia. She has appeared with orchestras in United States and the Philippines and in chamber music concerts.
She has performed with poetry, video, live drawing, and dance in recent concerts, collaborating with dancer Julie Petry, video artist Ron Lambert, visual artist Lisa Corine von Koch, and performance artist Hunter Fine. She was artistic director of “Lumina” which explored the experience of light and darkness as inspired by Southeast Asian folklore, using video art, lighting effects, and dance, and piano music by Harrison, McPhee, Debussy, and Piazzolla. In “Evocación: Visions of Spain, Cuba, and Southeast Asia,” she juxtaposed pieces from Albéniz’ Iberia and music inspired by the gamelan (Southeast Asian gong ensemble), with live drawing as well as poetry by Federico García Lorca and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Gifted with perfect pitch, Charisse taught herself to play the piano at age four. She begged her parents to buy a piano, and when it was delivered, sat down and learned how to play, improvising and learning complete songs on her own. She later started formal lessons with Filipino pedagogue Nita Abrogar Quinto, winning numerous competitions since she was eight. While in the Philippines, she also worked as a professional composer-arranger of songs and commercials for companies like Philippine Airlines, PLDT, and the Department of Energy.
As a Fulbright scholar, she studied with Logan Skelton at the University of Michigan, where she also finished her doctoral studies and was awarded a $22,000 Barbour Scholarship on top of a full tuition waiver and stipend. She has taught at the University of the Philippines and Kutztown University and is currently a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where she directs the piano area.
Charisse also loves photography, travel, and food. She has gone hang-gliding in Rio, skydiving in Pennsylvania, scuba-diving in the Tubbataha reefs, and enjoys fine cuisine and exotic dishes. [CharisseBaldoria.com]
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