Three Grands: A Piano Celebration

MUSIC and credit risk. Ivory keys and default probabilities. Musical scores and balance sheets. Mozart and Black-Scholes. Munich and Stanford. Can we behold all these seemingly unrelated topics and names in one memorable evening?

Parental pride. Yes, we can! when our only son and my namesake, Dr. Jose Artemio C. Panganiban III and his friends Abelardo Galang II and Pia Margarita Dino Balasico, together with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (under the baton of Josefino Chino Toledo), present The Three Grands: A Piano Celebration at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (main theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Please pardon the parental bravado. But this classical piano concert marks the return, after more than 18 years, of Archie (as we fondly call him although his foreign colleagues know him as “Jose”) to the Philippine music scene at the invitation of CCP president Nestor Jardin. True, he has visited occasionally but only to attend family gatherings, not to play the keyboard.

The last time he performed here was on June 6, 1990, when he played Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 111, Hindemith’s Sonata No. 3 and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes at the CCP. Early on, he already gravitated toward these German composers because even in music he delighted in intellectual encounters. He resonates that musical forms and structures are just as important as the emotions that evoke them.

Music and finance. His fascination with these geniuses enticed him to study in Munich in 1990 as a German government scholar, after finishing his Bachelor of Music with the distinction of being only the second student to have obtained summa cum laude honors since the founding of the College of Music of the University of the Philippines and of having the highest grade among all of UP’s 3,300 graduates in 1989.

Later that year (1989), he won the “Associate Award” at the 5th International Takehiro Sonoda Piano Competition in Oita, Japan. The following year, he played during the Puerto Real Evening Special Concert Series, Paco Park Presents and CCP Filipino Artist Series.

In 1992, he decided that he could not face the piano 10 hours daily all his life as befitted an international concert pianist. So he pursued a parallel career in finance, earning three graduate degrees from Stanford University: Master in Operations Research (“With Distinction”), Master in Engineering Economic Systems and PhD in both Operations Research and Engineering Economic Systems. To support his doctoral studies, he worked as a teaching assistant, for which he was later awarded the coveted Stanford Centennial Award during his graduation in 1999.

From Stanford, he was lured by Wall Street, working first at Credit Suisse-First Boston in 1999, then at Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and eventually at Citigroup as a vice-president for credit risk from 2007 to the present. He uses keyboards to produce music in the same way that he looks at math—either stochastic calculus or Monte Carlo simulation—to back up finance.

At Citigroup, he assesses counter party credit risks; that is, he evaluates the potential risk of default the bank takes when it deals with specific clients. In making assessments, he applies option pricing principles developed by Fischer Black and Myron Scholes (a Stanford icon and Nobel laureate). From the resulting model, bankers generate credit value adjustments (CVA) that in turn determine additional fees they charge and that are later on used to mark-to-market their assets.

Basically shy and still a bachelor, Archie lives in New York. Has he ever thought of being a lawyer? Unfortunately not. Not even my four daughters. As a retired chief justice, I had the authority to order litigants, however exalted, to obey me, but alas had no power to direct the educational inclinations of my children who all thought that one lawyer in the family was more than enough. (Sigh.)

Galang and Balasico. Abelardo Galang II is an international concert pianist based in Germany where he is completing his doctoral thesis on the “Development of Philippine Piano Literature” at the Berlin Technical University. He has two master’s degrees, in solo piano performance from the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo and in chamber music from the Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Germany. He pursued further music studies in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A child prodigy and an intense performer, Pia Balasico teaches piano at the UP where she finished, magna cum laude, her Bachelor of Music (1989) and Master of Music (1997). She has won various awards, among them third place in the 1984 Bach Piano Competition and first place in the 1986 Liszt Piano Competition. She has performed at the CCP, UP, Francisco Santiago and other music halls.

The “Three Grands” program includes Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos KV 448 in D Major,” Poulenc’s “Sonata for Two Pianos,” Augusto Espino’s “Kulay Tugtugin” (a suite of Filipino folk songs for three pianos) and Mozart’s “Concerto for Three Pianos and an Orchestra in F Major, KV 242.”

Three chairpersons of three music-loving institutions sponsor the concert: Oscar M. Lopez of First Philippine Holdings Corp., George S. K. Ty of Metrobank Group and Lourdes R. Montinola of Far Eastern University, for the benefit of the CCP Young Artists Scholarship Fund. This fund helps over 100 talented Filipino artists obtain their tertiary education. Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office (Tel. No. 832-3704) or TicketWorld (891-9999).

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