From Skype tutorials to U-S scholarship, Dumaguete violinist KayCee Galano debuts at Carnegie Hall in NY

Dumaguete violinist KayCee Galano
KayCee Galano debuts on the Carnegie Hall stage playing the Bach sonatas from memory. Credits to KayCee Galano social media.

The journey of Filipino violinist Kristine Clair Uchi “KayCee” Galano to her debut on the prestigious Carnegie Hall stage in New York started from 5 years of Skype tutorials during her homeschooling years in Dumaguete which led to a scholarship at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).

The 18-year-old sophomore student of Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus, the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Classical Violin, performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete Solo Sonatas and Partitas – amazingly, from memory – on October 12, 2019, at the Weill Recital Hall at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

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In a Cincinnati report, Galano related how she mastered all six Bach solo sonatas for violin when she was just 10 years old. She was 4 years old when she first heard the violin at a music school where her mother worked as a piano teacher. She had been playing the violin since then.

The young violinist first met Professor Sassmannshaus in 2011 when she was 10 years old during a recital at the Beijing at The Great Wall International Music Academy.

After hearing her play, Sassmannshaus asked who her teacher as – she had none – and thereafter offered to teach her over Skype.

KayCee Galano received Skype lessons from her teacher for a period of five years, every Tuesday at 8 in the evening for Galano in the Philippines and 8 in the morning for Sassmannshaus in the United States.

When she turned 15, Galano enrolled in the Starling Preparatory String Project’s Dorothy Richard Starling program for gifted kids and teenagers and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.

In a CCM report, Rebecca Butts noted how Galano became an overnight sensation in the Philippines in October 2018 when she played as a soloist for Max Brunch’s first violin concerto with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra – with just a few days’ notices.

Filipino international conductor Gerard Salonga, Music Director of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra and Resident Conductor of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, recalled how he was impressed by Galano.

“In 2018 I had the good fortune of meeting KayCee for the first time in her hometown of Dumaguete in the Philippines. What immediately struck me about her was her beautiful sound, technical security, keen phrasing, and natural musicality. KayCee is also a wonderful, positively charged human being, and a delight to work with.

“I really cannot say enough about what a talent she is, and how proud she is making her country. We should all look forward to hearing her contributions to the music world,” said Salonga.

KayCee Galano “quickly began to establish herself as one of the leading young violinists of her generation” with the following credentials:

  • first prize at the Malaysian Youth Music Festival
  • first prize at the Great Wall Violin Concerto Competition in Beijing
  • At age 12, she performed in the first Asian broadcast of NPR’s “From the Top” show
  • At age 13, she performed Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto with the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra
  • At age 14, Galano toured the U.S. with renowned pianist Rohan De Silva, and has since collaborated and recorded with him many times

“I tremendously enjoy performing with KayCee Galano,” said De Silva. “Her infectious musicality and magnetic stage presence were obvious in our first encounter. I foresee and wish her a blessed life as an important musician. Ms. Galano is a charming and stellar artistic ambassador for her native country of the Philippines.”

Galano’s concert tours include:

  • National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing
  • a tour of many Chinese cities with the Starling Chamber Orchestra
  • In 2017, Galano performed Korngold’s violin concerto with the Jena Philharmonic in Germany

In anticipation of her Carnegie Hall debut, Galano’s teacher and mentor Sassmannshaus said, “KayCee’s affinity and love of Bach’s Solo works have been a source of inspiration in her young life for many years. Her captivating interpretations show the rare confluence of a youthful spirit and uncommon maturity — and both continue to deliver delightful surprises. Her New York Recital Debut of the complete Bach solo violin works at age 18 will be both the culmination of an in-depth study of many years, and the beginning of a life-long journey.”

Filipino music artists showcasing their talents on the global stage include American Protege Awardee violinist Ruth Livioco-Tumpalan and American Prize recipient composer Nilo Alcala.

WATCH this video of a prior performance by KayCee Galano and SEND her congratulations in the comments below for her successful debut at Carnegie Hall!

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