At first glance, he looks like an easy-going young man who has no definite plan for the future.
The truth, though, is that Filipino-American Jovanni-Rey Verceles de Pedro has already figured out what his future will be. In fact, to him, the future is now here.
Only 29 years old and single, Jovanni is now an internationally acclaimed pianist. He has won prestigious international piano competitions not only in the United States but also in Europe.[box type=”default” size=”medium”] To hold concert on April 29 at Saint Hugo of the Hills church [/box]People who appreciate fine music will have a chance to enjoy Jovanni’s brand of piano music when he stages a concert in the evening of April 29, 2012 at the Saint Hugo of the Hills church at 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The concert is a fund raiser of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Michigan (UPAAM) headed by President Bong Jaramillo. UPAAM will use the proceeds for its projects.
Jovanni, whose parents hail from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, will be given a little honorarium for doing the concert. “I do this every now and then to help people raise funds for good causes,” he said when the Filipino Star News interviewed him recently in the house of piano teacher and former Ford Motor Co. employee Roy Coloma (who is also from Laoag City) in Plymouth.
Jovanni, who is a nephew of the late Attorney and Laoag Councilor Nemi de Pedro, has been here in Michigan for three years now, working on his doctorate in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Michigan. He will be graduating on April 27, 2012, just two days before his concert on April 29.
“This will be my first performance as a doctor,” he said, beaming with a smile.
What types of piano compositions will he present at the concert? “It will not be all classical; it will be a nice balance of different things,” he said. He will perform the masterpieces of, among others, Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, Austrian composers Friedrich Gulda and Jeno Takacs, Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera and Filipino composer Augusto Espino.
He described Gulda as a versatile composer who fused pop, jazz and classical into his compositions. Espino’s compositions were described as combinations of the melodies of Filipino folk songs.
Jovanni appeared enthusiastic about his coming concert as he will be showcasing the depth of the musical art and knowledge he had gained since he was three years old. He learned the ABC of piano music from his father Remigio de Pedro, who is a top pianist and the present musical director of Mahiwaga Singers, a choral group composed of Filipino-Americans in Baldwin Park, California. His father is a graduate of the Centro Escolar Conservatory of Music in Manila. His grandfather Jose L. de Pedro and his great-grandfather Nemesio de Pedro were both composers.
He took up piano lessons and conducting when he was studying at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. At one time, he was the conductor of the Mahiwaga Singers. He also served briefly as conductor of the Artistic Journeys Youth Orchestra, and his choirs topped several competitions in the US.
After graduating from high school, he was granted a scholarship by the ASCAP/Leiber and Stoller Foundation for a six-year, piano-music course at the Vienna Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria where he obtained in 2007 his artist’s diploma with high distinction. While in Vienna, he won all the major prizes at stake in various competitions such as the 2003 Boesendorfer Stipendium and the overall prize in the Fidelio Competition conducted by the City of Vienna’s Cultural Affairs Department and the 2007 Rotary Club Graben Stipendium.
Jovanni also won prizes in many national and international contests. He garnered first place in the 2000 United States Open Music Competition, first place in the 2002 International Pacific Piano Competition in Canada, second place in the 2003 Ibiza International Piano Competition in Spain and second place in the 2007 Beethoven Society of Europe’s Intercollegiate Piano Competition in England.
In 2008, Jovanni was awarded the Isabelle Bond Gold Medal for performance excellence upon completion of his master’s degree from the Trinity College of Music in England.
He had performed at concerts in the US, Canada, England, Chezch Republic, Australia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Philippines. In Manila, he performed at the Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with the UST Symphony.
Asked if his being a Filipino was an obstacle in his climb to the zenith of success and fame, he said, “No, it’s not; in fact, it’s great because it’s uncommon for Filipinos to excel in world music, and this made many people very supportive of me.” Is it possible for Jovanni to teach piano music at a conservatory of music in the Philippines in the future? It is a remote possibility, he said, but he can conduct lectures every time he visits the Philippines for the benefit of music prodigies.
He said he had visited the Philippines, particularly Laoag and La Union (from where his mother Trina hails), several times. A second-generation Filipino-American, Jovanni cannot speak Tagalog. He speaks a little Ilocano but understands people when they are talking in Ilocano, the predominant dialect in Northern Luzon.
What about the wedding bell? Will it toll soon for Jovanni? He was in the company of her girlfriend, Jeremy Dayrit, a Filipina who is a researcher and a native of Zambales, Philippines, during the interview with the Filipino Star News. It appeared, though, that they have no plan yet to tie the nuptial chord.[box type=”default” size=”medium”] For ticket reservation, individuals or parties planning to watch the concert are asked to call any one of the following: Edith Manzano, 248-635-1499; Rene Juridico, 586-203-9879; Lavinia Mateo, 248-318-5897; Helen Domingo, 248-855-4508; Roy Coloma, 734-239-5481; and Ellen Porte 586-939-0618 [/box]