MASTER OF MUSIC, major in violin, (scholarship student of Ivan Galamian), The Juilliard School, New York City;
PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, major in violin, (scholarship student of Ivan Galamian), The Juilliard School, New York City;
POSTGRADUATE STUDIES, major in Theory of Music, (minor in piano), Manhattan School of Music, New York City;
BACHELOR OF MUSIC, major in violin, (minor in composition and conducting), graduated at the age of 18 with high honors, Philippine Women’s University, Manila, Philippines;
HIGH SCHOOL, University of the Philippines Preparatory School, Manila, Philippines;
ELEMENTARY, Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, Manila, Philippines; Singalong Parochial School, Manila, Philippines.
THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL, New York City;
MEADOWMOUNT SCHOOL OF MUSIC, (Ivan Galamian, Founder-Director), Westport, Essex County,
MERVILLE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Manila, Philippines;
FRANCISCA TIRONA BENITEZ PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLARSHIP,
Philippine Women’s University, Manila, Philippines;
FULL SCHOLARSHIP, Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines;
FULL SCHOLARSHIP, Foundation for Gifted Children, (Children’s Museum & Library, Inc), Manila, Philippines.
III. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
“YOUTH POPS STRING & VOCAL ENSEMBLE;
VIOLIN SOLOIST, all the major symphony orchestras in the Philippines;
CONCERT VIOLINIST in command performances, solo recitals, TV & Radio cultural presentations, and guest artist in performances in the Philippines, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France, Spain, and the United States;
PIANO CLINICIAN/VIOLIN COACH, Greater Washington Suzuki Piano Institute, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia;
VIOLIN SPECIALIST, Montclair College, Music Preparatory Division, Upper Montclair, New Jersey;
HEAD, String Department & Choir Director, Shumiatcher School of Music, Larchmont & Mamaroneck, New York;
HEAD, String Department & Choir Director, Fil-Am Cultural Society of Rockland, New York;
MUSIC DIRECTOR/VIOLIN, PIANO & VOCAL COACH, “Young Musical Glimpses”, Filipino Association of Rockland, New York;
CHOIR DIRECTOR/VOCAL COACH/PIANIST/ARRANGER, New York-PhilAm Lions/Lioness Chorale, NYC; New York-PhilAm Jaycees/Jaycettes Choir, NYC; Philippine Choraleers of NYC; Saint Francis de Sales Children’s Choir, NYC;
GUEST MUSIC COACH, Barangay Theater Guild, Manila,Philippines;
MUSIC DIRECTOR/VOCAL COACH/PIANIST/ARRANGER, De La Salle Collegiate Choral, (De La Salle College,Manila, Philippines);
Philippine Women’s University Glee Club, Manila, Philippines).
IV. HIGHLIGHTS, AWARDS, & OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS
COMMAND PERFORMANCE for US President & Mrs. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER during their state visit in Malacanan Palace in Manila, Philippines;
COMMAND PERFORMANCE for their ROYAL HIGHNESSES of THAILAND in Manila, Philippines
COMMAND PERFORMANCE for the Ambassadors & the Plenipotentiaries of the countries from Europe, Latin America, & Asia, and the members of the US Diplomatic Corps in Washington, DC;
“CERTIFICATE of RECOGNITION” at the “Premio Internationale di Violino”, Genoa, Italy;
“HONORABLE MENTION” for her song, “WE ARE YOUR CHILDREN”, (Composers Guild and the National Academy of Songwriters in the US); had its world premiere at the UNITED NATIONS in NYC during the National 100th Anniversary Celebration of the STATUE of LIBERTY;
“CERTIFICATE of APPRECIATION”, (New York City Consul General Linglingay Fonacier-Lacanlale, “in recognition of her valuable contribution to the successful May Cultural Arts Series in connection with the celebration of Independence in New York City”
“CERTIFICATE of APPRECIATION & RECOGNITION”, Federation of Philippine Societies in New Jersey, (in cooperation with the Filipino-Americans of New Jersey) “acknowledges with appreciation and thanks for accepting our request to donate some of your precious time and talent to the cause... ‘to remember....share and give comfort...’ to the New Jersey Filipino-American victims of the WORLD TRADE CENTER tragedy.....and for your generous spirit in helping organize the Memorial Concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, and which entire proceeds will be given to the Filipino-American victims’ families”;
“OUTSTANDING YOUNG EDUCATOR AWARD”, unanimously chosen by the Philippine-New York Jaycees, New York City;
“PLAQUE of APPRECIATION”, (Philippine-New York Jaycees/Jaycettes “in recognition of her untiring charitable endeavors and for her generous musical assistance”, New York City;
“APPRECIATION AWARD”, Philippine-American Lions of New York;
“PLAQUE of APPRECIATION”, (Filipino-American Association of Rockland) “for her selfless devotion and perseverance in teaching our children a greater understanding of music that only a great artist can inspire”, Rockland County, New York City;
“AWARD of APPRECIATION”, (4-A Orlando Asian Pacific American Association of AT&T), “for your participation as cultural guest performer in the AT&T Annual Banquet...and for the outstanding entertainment in music on its Financial Services Diversity Day Celebration”, Orlando, Florida;
“CERTIFICATE of SPECIAL RECOGNITION”, (Ambassador Ernesto Pineda of the Philippine Consulate General of New York City) “for promoting Philippine culture”;
“AWARD of APPRECIATION”, (De La Salle College, Manila, Philippines) “for having generously assisted the DE LA SALLE COLLEGIATE CHORALE as its Music Directress/Conductress in all its activities and its 1st Solo Annual Concert“;
“HONORS AWARD” (Honors Society of Philippine Women’s University), Manila, Philippines;
“MERITORIOUS AWARD”, (De La Salle College, Manila, Philippines), “for directing/conducting the DE LA SALLE COLLEGIATE CHORALE-PHILIPPINE WOMEN’s UNIVERSITY GLEE CLUB in its first joint choral concert”, Manila, Philippines;
“TESTIMONIAL AWARD”, (Young Artists National Music Contest), Manila Symphony Society, Manila, Philippines;
“MUSICIAN of the YEAR AWARD”, (University of the Philippines), Manila, Philippines;
“MUSIC DIRECTOR/VOCAL COACH/PIANIST, (and later President) of the University of the Philippines Preparatory School Glee Club in her high school Broadway musical productions of “MY FAIR LADY and “SOUTH PACIFIC” (at ages 15 and 16 respectively), Manila, Philippines;
SOLOIST/CONDUCTOR (and later President) of the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School Glee Club (from Grades IV to VII), Manila, Philippines;
GUEST CHILD SOPRANO, MANILA SYMPHONY SOCIETY ORCHESTRA & CHOIR, Herbert Zipper, (Australian conductor), Manila, Philippines;
LEAD SOPRANO (from Grade IV to College), PHILIPPINE WOMEN’s UNIVERSITY CHORALE, Manila, Philippines;
COMPOSER, “BELOVED U.P. PREP”, on the occasion of her high school graduation from the University of the Philippines Preparatory School, Manila, Philippines;
10-YEAR FULL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD”, (Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines);
“SPECIAL ACADEMIC AWARD”, (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, and the Philippine Women’s University), “for Scholastic Excellence,
Achievement, & Leadership”, Manila, Philippines;
“SPECIAL RECOGNITION of MERIT AWARD”, (joint award with her official pianist/sister, AGNES MONTALBAN, from the Philippine Women’s University), “for their commendable example of sisterly symbiosis in their musical performances, for their amiable demeanor unspoiled by the many successful engagements they have consistently given inside and outside the campus, thus providing themselves a credit to their parents and to their school”, Manila, Philippines;
GUEST CHILD ACTRESS/MEMBER, Artists Guild of the Philippines, (Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera, “SAINT of BLEECKER STREET”), Manila, Philippines;
WINNER, “Search for Talent in Violin” (Philippine National Cultural Contest), Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines;
“GRAND FINALS FIRST PRIZE AWARD”, National Television Annual Talents Competition, “YOUR CHILDREN ON PARADE”, where she was judged “MOST TALENTED CHILD DISCOVERY”, Manila, Philippines.
V. THUMBNAIL REVIEWS: Divinagracia Montalban-Lagua
(concert artist, teacher, music director, arranger, songwriter)
“Divinagracia Montalban-Lagua is a truly outstanding teacher. She has excellent musical and instrumental concepts. Her teaching is always constructive, thorough, and with great concepts. She is very personable, and both my daughter and I look forward to her lessons with pleasure.”
GERALD SCHWARTZ, Music Director The Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center & Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
“Divinagracia Montalban radiates soulfulness and commands respect with her fierce talents and decisiveness of technique. She is as gifted a performer as a teacher and music director. Her arrangements are rich with interesting and skillfully weaved counterpoint that heightens the enjoyment of the listeners and her audience.”
Juilliard School alumna & teacher
Director, Shumiatcher School of Music, New York
“Ms. Montalban-Lagua is a gifted and talented artist of the highest quality...An excellent teacher with a willing spirit and who is totally dedicated to her art....an inspiration to her students, an attribute to any institution, and an asset to the world of music.”
HERSHEL SPIEGEL, Ph D
Montclair State College, NJ
“CHILDREN FLASH MUSICAL FINESSE”
“The youngsters effortlessly held the complete attention of the audience. For when music is interpreted by a youthful musical group, the polyphony of sound becomes enchanting. Their stage presence and discipline (instilled in them by their multi-talented mentor, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN- LAGUA during long hours of rehearsals and regular lessons) marked their concert with a class of touch and professionalism. It is obvious that their exclusive musical training under Ms. Montalban-Lagua has made them a solid group of intelligent performers”.
Rockleigh Reporter, NY
“Many student musicians dream of performing at the Carnegie Recital Hall. That dream came true for Reina and Sevima Aktay when they were both 9 and 6 years old respectively. Observe their mother, Mary Anne Aktay, ‘There are many rehearsals and ensemble sessions. It takes a lot of time and hard work, but it is worth it because of their teacher, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN. I don’t think they could play as well as they do if not for her.”
Butler-Bloomingdale-Kinnelow, New Jersey
“Divinagracia Montalban is a capable and exceptionally talented young artist, and is regarded with the highest esteem as both an extraordinary artist and a fine human being. Delightful and personable, Divinagracia is a most gifted lady who will prove an asset to any organization she has an association with.”
Director, ARS VIVUS, New York City
“Ms. Montalban-Lagua is truly a fine lady who is an absolute treasure. She is a model for both student and parent alike, and the finest example of patience, talent, consideration, and humanist that one would hope to discover. BRAVO!”
Youth Pops String Ensemble
(Parent and Patron), Boonton, NJ
“Ms. Montalban-Lagua is a rare gem that we have serendipitiously found! She has a genuine interest in the musical development of each of her students. She can inspire and meet their individual needs and thus enhance their skills to the fullest. With such a highly qualified music teacher and a wonderful person, who could ask for more?”
Youth Pops String Ensemble
(Parent and Patron), NYC
“To get through voluminous pages of reviews and critical acclaim written about DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is a most fascinating and revealing task....The audience was captivated as the performing students played with gusto. From the youngest to the oldest performer, there was fulfilling ecstasy of performing on stage...Ms. Montalban’s amazing capabilities to teach and develop musical greats might also well be her obsession”.
(Former Society Editor, Filipino American, NYC)
Philippine Press LA-NYC
“Ms. Montalban-Lagua’s teaching ability is an innate gift endowed by Divine Providence.”
Testimonial Dinner, Brooklyn, NY
(Violin & Music Theory student for over 2 decades)
Lincoln Center, NYC
YOUTH POPS STRING ENSEMBLE
“The Youth Pops String Ensemble is a standout act! Never have I seen or heard such brand of entertainment that can prompt so much positive audience response and exciting reaction...They are amazing!”
MAYOR JOHN KINDER
Bloomfield, New Jersey
“MONTALBAN DIRECTS BRILLIANT MUSICALE”
“The cast was held together by the exemplary commanding and dynamic young conductor, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN. An overflow of audience applauded enthusiastically and was amazed at the incredible talent she demonstrated as she performed her multiple chores in presenting and assisting the performers. She was electrifying! She was terrific!”
Philippine Press, LA-NY
“Over-all impression is that of a happy and pleasurable balance between exquisite talent and serious hard work. Under the superb tutelage and direction of DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, the Youth Pops
String Ensemble had remarkable musicality, stage presence, and impressive confidence. The performers communicated vitality, intelligence, excitement, and energy.”
CONSUL GENERAL ERNESTO PINEDA
Consulate General of the Philippines
New York City
“MONTALBAN PROGRAM — A SMASHING SUCCESS”
“Everything Ms. MONTALBAN-LAGUA did on stage was totally at her command.......a TOUR DE FORCE.....her demeanor as a well matured pedagogue astonishingly belies her youth, much too young for all that she has accomplished”.
FILIPINO REPORTER, NYC
“About Ms. Montalban-Lagua, the inspiring force behind it all, there are not enough words to describe this highly talented musician-artist. Under her dynamic direction, the instrumentalists-turned-singers
sang their mentor’s tasteful choral arrangement with a potpourri of broadway excerpts from ‘Oliver’, ‘Annie’, ‘Cats’, and ‘Fame’. The group’s instrumental/choral performance was just a small proof of her ability to teach the art in which she is a master.”
Rockleigh Reporter, NY
“YOUNGSTERS FILL THE AIR WITH MUSIC”
“Every member of the cast seemed candid and refreshingly animated as they sang like pros, displaying certain qualities of natural vocal technique.....A string and choir ensemble was held together by the dynamic and rhythmical sense of the lady conductor, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, who amazed the crowd with her convincing artistry, unique individual style, and incredible talent”.
Philippine News, San Francisco
“The Youth Pops String Ensemble was presented in an inspirational and entertaining concert demonstrating remarkable talents coached and directed under the baton of an energetic and dynamic lady conductor, DIVINAGRACIAMONTALBAN, a concert violinist, to whom we offer our gratitude and appreciation”.
PHOEBE ANDES, Chairperson
Federation of the Philippine Societies in New Jersey
“Spectacular Performance!.....The Youth Pops String Ensemble’s performance was met with rave reviews. The talents they exhibited under the direction of their mentor, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, were amazing”.
Monmouth County Care Center
“The Youth Pops String Ensemble is a cut above others.....With MS. MONTALBAN-LAGUA at the helm, they radiated vibrantly and performed with lyrical grace.”
(NEW JERSEY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER)
Filipino Reporter, NYC
VI. EXCERPTS FROM PRESS RELEASES & MUSIC REVIEWS ON
DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s PERFORMANCES
“Ms. Divinagracia Montalban, her first name is appropriate to describe her own gifts and the richness of the evening......The music resounds in our heads; those sounds were made in heaven and for legendary music halls. We marvel still.”
“Vocal Musicale”, Great Falls, VA
“C’est tres bon... extraordinaire! It was a pleasure to hear the lovely sound of Melle. MONTALBAN. She exhibited a good understanding of the music she played. Her renditions had much heart and a real joy to listen to.”
Pianiste, Valais Festival du Musique, SUISSE
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s technical facility and musical intelligence gave a special glitter to her recital. Blessed with so much fire and a tone so sweet, she simply made her violin sing.”
Kansas City, MO
“Dynamic performance! DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, this lady musician-artist who has proven herself a starburst in all her performances in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Austria, Canada, and other parts of North America, has remained unspoiled by her successes”.
“Kaleidoscope”, WNYC-FM, NYC
“CHILD PRODIGY HAS GROWN UP: MONTALBAN, VIOLINIST IN CONCERT AT LINCOLN”
“Filipino violinist, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, bowed to a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd in a 2-hour performance at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center...........FILIPINO REPORTER, NYC.......(Post concert comments): ...”DYNAMO OF A VIOLINIST! ...Her stylistic and vibrant rendition of ‘Gypsy Airs’ as her encore number, after sailing through a heavy and well executed program, revealed the intense passion of a true gypsy!”
(Hungarian Music Patron)
Library & Museum of the Performing Arts
Lincoln Center, NYC
“Like her name, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN plays with Divine Grace.”
Montclair Art Museum, NJ
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN delights her audiences by her easy rendition and musical understanding of the most technically demanding compositions. It is evident she knows her instrument well and is thus able to give full concentration to the interpretative quality of a musical work.”
Director, ARS VIVUS, NYC
“The violinist, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, executed her piece with such brilliance and superb technicality that she bears watching in the future as one of our outstanding concert artists.”
“Village Vibes”, Our Town, NYC
“Child prodigy, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, is now a grown up lady both physically and artistically. Her violin performance showed beautiful energy and had the same familiar control when she had to retard a movement’s phrase, or when she had to put ardor to it.
“Ningas Cogon”, NYC
“DIVINARACIA MONTALBAN’s display of bravura was simply overwhelming. WOW! So impressed and deeply moved! Best of luck to her on a glorious and distinguished career.”
JOE DE GUZMAN
The Juilliard School, NYC
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s magnificent violin program was truly one of the most exciting performances we have seen, and in our opinion, displayed great musical sensitivity and craftsmanship.”
LORNA and JACQUELINE MYERS
The Juilliard School, NYC
“So amazed at DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s magnificent recital, masterful technique, and especially her fine musicianship. What a virtuoso!.....I could have sat and listened for hours, & with joy! I am still smiling from the wonderfulness of that day.”
The Juilliard School, NYC
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is truly a class act!”... (following her 3rd command performance in Wash., DC for the ambassadors and plenipotentiaries of the countries from Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and the members of the US Diplomatic Corps)
PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR to the UNITED STATES, EDUARDO ROMUALDEZ
(Brother of former Philippines’ First Lady IMELDA MARCOS)
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s violin performance is marked with finesse, and her display of bravura is simply overwhelming.”
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is a gifted young violinist endowed with fine technical equipment and deep musicality. She is an engaging recitalist and perform in public with real aplomb.”
Director, EAST and WEST ARTISTS, NYC
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s evening concert will long remain in the memory of all those who attended as a most pleasant experience in the world of music because of the inspired quality of her performance”.
MANILA-SACRAMENTO FRIENDSHIP ASSOCIATION
OFFICE of the MAYOR of the CITY of MANILA
“INSTINCT WITH SONG”
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN played with a poise and masterly of one already well on the way to becoming another Lozada. She played warmly and expressively with an emphasis and drive that indicated a maturity beyond her present years. From her violin, she produced tones of refined timbers.”
“Art and Life”, Manila Times, Philippines
“For one so young, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN possesses a compelling stage presence.”
(Choreographer and daughter of CECILE B. DeMILLE,
Producer-Director of the movie, “Ten Commandments”)
“The musical program performed by DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, a child prodigy,at the Malacanan Palace was of very high quality. She was of real divine grace who played the violin so beautifully. She has musical minded ladies in a trance—almost literally, they swooned: ‘Life is wonderful when you can hear music like this.’”
VIRGINIA BENITEZ LICUANAN
Manila Chronicle, Philippines
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN has earned the acclaim of the public as early as 7 years old. Within 2 years of violin study, she began tackling PAGANINI CAPRICES considered the lexicon of violinists. These are easily difficult and performed unaccompanied, and are ordinarily assigned to violin students in their 8th year of study. At 13, she performed the PAGANINI ‘Violin Concerto No. 1’ in D major with the orchestra....That she has the makings of a great artist is beyond doubt.”
Manila Bulletin, Philippines
“SHE BREATHES HER SOUL INTO THE STRINGS”
“At 12 years old and boning up on WIENIAWSKI’s ‘Violin Concerto’ in D major and more of PAGANINI’s 24 Caprices, DIVINAGRACIA ‘GRACE’ MONTALBAN is extraordinarily gifted, has an extra good sense of hearing, excellent memory, and can easily absorb. She is very sensitive and has mature interpretation. What’s more, she has a grown up attitude toward her art.....She is unspoiled and pursues her violin practice with zeal. With no further need for words, she conveys in the most moving of languages—music......When she plays the violin, she infuses into it all of her soul. The way she can interpret the music of the masters with such beautiful intensity has gained for her the name ‘ANGEL on STRINGS.’”
“For this concert goer, there isn’t a more irresistible appeal for supporting the specialized education of young prodigies than the mere existence of precocious ones like DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, a lovable little girl, and aside from that is an astonishing musician.”
RODRIGO PEREZ, III
“Children are notable show stealers. True to form, one of the two young artists who played intermission numbers was DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN who gained the enthusiastic applause of the audience.”
LINA FLOR’s SPARKLERS
“PHILIPPINES’ TALENTED GIRL VIOLINIST ANSWERS PLAUDITS WITH GRACIOUS SMILE”
“The little girl who captured the nation’s admiration by the sweep of the strings three years ago is now blossoming into a gracious performer. And with each year, she sparks a promise as brilliant as the morning star....On first glimpse, DIVINAGRACIA ‘GRACE’ MONTALBAN is a quiet girl with pretty dark eyes. A 12-year old seventh grader, she is one of the top pupils in class. But there is much more to these trifles. Beneath the quietness, Divinagracia plays with the memory of the noise and marvel music lovers made when she was first discovered and acclaimed simultaneously: ‘CHILD PRODIGY’ and ‘ANGEL ON STRINGS’......At nine, this girl had played in packed auditoriums, played over the radio and television, won prizes in musical contests, won from the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines a full scholarship granted only to persons who have the potentialities of great and rare artists. She played for US PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER at the state dinner in his honor in Malacanan Palace......At the moment, she is practicing WIENIASKI’s ‘VIOLIN CONCERTO in D major’ and PAGANINI’s ‘VIOLIN CONCERTO’ No. 1’. Critics confirm her talents as extraordinary. Her memory is like a mirror which is exactly one of the requirements of an outstanding musician. She has keen sensitive hearing and possesses the diligence and humility only the truly successful prodigy has!”
Manila Bulletin, Philippines
“SUPERB!”......This girl (DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN), 10, has the fire of Vallejo and the skill of a matured artist!”, exclaimed DR. ANTONIO J. MOLINA of the child violinist’s interpretation of his iconic composition, ‘HATING GABI’ (Midnight).
EDDIE B. MONTECLARO
“Highlights & Sidelights”, Evening News
“CRITIC, SKEPTICAL IN THE BEGINNING, FINDS GIRL VIOLINIST A REAL PRODIGY”
“.......After DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s interpretation of MOZART’s ‘Violin Concerto’ in A major, reservations began to crumble. By night’s end, we were ready to concede — here indeed is a prodigy....Virtuosity is abundant and effortless, a good ear is evident, innate musical qualities are obvious, and an exceptional ability to concentrate and absorb instruction is strikingly present....Her rendition of MOZART was to say the least precocious. It had the refreshing qualities of youthful exuberance combined with adult understanding. Especially in the Adagio (where one cannot camouflage faulty musicianship with speed and power), DIVINAGRACIA acquitted herself remarkably well. Embellishments, phrasing, tone and rhythm control,and delicacy of touch were, in a concerto as a whole, integrated in the best classic tradition......Her MENDELSSOHN (in E minor Concerto) was a good vehicle for her virtuosity. Melodic lines were fluid and she successfully distinguished its style from MOZART’s. As a whole, 10-year old DIVINAGRACIA’s performance was highly competent and charming.....KREISLER’s ‘Praeludium and Allegro’ was her response to clamor for an encore.”
Evening News, Manila, Philippines
“FIRST RATE PERFORMANCE: MUSICIAN-ARTIST”
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is a 1st class musician and threatens to be a 1st class artist. Her control of dynamics is not a mechanical adjustment to the pp’s and ff’s of a score but seems to be guided by an appreciation of melodic line and emotional significance. She can intelligently mold a phrase just as intelligently sustain the structure of a large work. She can play bravura passages with bravura and lyrical passages with a fairly convincing pedantic and a bit condescending to even mention them. 10-year old DIVINAGRACIA plays with the concentration and assurance worthy of an adult.”
Rodrigo Perez, III
Manila Times, Philippines
“Although comparisons are usually unfair, I do want to tell you that I heard JASCHA HEIFETZ play when he was ‘GRACE’s’ age — and I was struck by the similarity of tone and technique. I wish Grace all the success that God-given talent and her application to her playing entitles her to.”
ATTY. RAYMONDE PAUL
Editor, “La Abogada”, journal of
Federacion Internacional de Abogadas
“Manila music lovers are still talking about the violin prodigy, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s ‘Premiere Recital’. Impresario Jose Lauchengco must be proud of his product and we don’t blame him. ‘GRACE’ is more than just a prodigy. She is a charming 9-year old girl who loves to fiddle. Sans the sophistication of a spoiled artist, her girlishness constitutes a built-in emphasis that delivers the message of the pieces she plays. Several times during her rendition of MENDELSSOHN’s ‘Violin Concerto’ in E minor, the audience applauded during the pauses, and this time nobody called the interruption improper. The audience couldn’t help it! “
EDDIE B. MONTECLARO
“Highlights & Sidelights”, Evening News
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN’s magnificent violin performance has made the Federation of International Women Lawyers convention a great success. The delegates, foreign and local, will remember her for a very long time and that the overseas delegates will forever remember the Philippines because of her.”
LINA FLOR’S SPARKLERS
Manila Times, Philippines
“Nine-year old music prodigy, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, won the hearts of Manila Rotarians with her masterly rendition of three difficult pieces on the violin. From the way the Rotarians applauded her and asked for encores, we can say that she has already won their support, too. This is one Filipino talent that we can’t afford to allow to go to waste”.
HIGHLIGHTS and SIDELIGHTS, Evening News
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is a virtuoso who has chosen to bloom outright.It’s as though, impelled by irrepressible floral impatience, she has chosen to bask in the sun of public wonderment and appreciation for such rare and prodigious talent”.
JOVITA FUENTES, Chairperson
Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines
(First Filipino operatic diva hailed in Europe)
“NINE-YEAR OLD IS NEWEST VIOLIN PRODIGY “
“Once on stage, whether interpreting MOLINA’s ‘ Hating Gabi’ or
going through the intricacies of PAGANINI’s ‘Caprice No. 2’ in B minor,
DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN is all poise, all concentration, all expression and feeling.......Judges in the ‘SEARCH FOR TALENT IN VIOLIN’ auditions sponsored by the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines said that DIVINAGRACIA showed exceptional talent and marked musicality for one so young. They observed that she played her chosen pieces—MENDELSSOHN’s ‘Violin Concerto’, a PAGANINI ‘Caprice’, and RIES’ ‘Moto Perpetuo’ — with rare maturity and keen musicianship. Add to these traits an amazing power of concentration, a memory remarkable for her age, excellence in dictation, and a natural feeling for expression and you have DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, a child prodigy.”
DAILY MAGAZINE, Manila Times
“The little 8-year old violinist who won the 1st Prize in the grand finals of the ‘CHILDREN ON PARADE’ talents contest and declared ‘MOST TALENTED CHILD DISCOVERY’ is DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN. She has been taking violin lessons for only a little over a year, and the piece she played, the 3rd movement of MENDELSSOHN’s ‘Violin Concerto in E minor’, is not played by ordinary students for much longer period of study. But then, as everyone who has heard and saw her on TV that night could easily tell, she is no ordinary student!”
LINA FLOR’s SPARKLERS
Manila Times, Philippines
I. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
A holder of a Master of Music degree from New York City’s Juilliard School on two scholarships, the former DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN had the distinct honor of being the lone Filipino concert violinist who was coached and nurtured by the late great Russian-trained IVAN GALAMIAN, (mentor of world renowned virtuoso violinists, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Rabin, Pinchas Zukerman, Erick Friedman, & Jaime Laredo). Her intensive coaching with him as a scholar of the Merville Development Corporation of the Philippines honed her skills, expanded and polished her repertoire, and shined a light of inspiration on her career. So impressed by her immense progress, not only did the highly esteemed violin professor grant her a special scholarship in the Meadowmount School of Music in Westport, New York (of which he was its founder-director) but also highly recommended her for additional scholarship in Juilliard School, commenting : “Miss Montalban is a very talented young woman...diligent, conscientious and shows great promise of being a fine violinist, and in my opinion deserving of help and encouragement”. Another Juilliard professor of hers, LAWRENCE L.WIDDOES, a composer, had waxed eloquent on the subject of her being gifted with “absolute pitch”, and “found her work excellent, dependable, and intelligent”. As the principal violinist of both the Juilliard Repertory Orchestra & the Juilliard Theater Orchestra, she performed under the baton of Alfred Wallenstein(Arturo Toscanini’s protege), James Conlon (then Opera Director of the Paris Opera House in France), antd John Nelson (then guest conductor of Metropolitan Opera House Symphony Orchestra in NYC’s Lincoln Center). Under the keen supervision of Samuel Rhodes of the Juilliard String Quartet, Divinagracia Montalban also honed her skills in fine ensemble-playing. She was called upon to perform with the “Baroque String and Wind Ensemble” under the baton of Prof. Fritz Rikko as well as with the “Juilliard Repertory String Ensemble” with John Nelson conducting at the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center (with the support of the New York State Council on the Arts). She likewise performed with the orchestra at the Juilliard Theater in the Juilliard American Opera Center’s productions of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme”, Sir William Walton’s “The Bear” and Puccini’s “Suor Angelica”. While continuing with her postgraduate studies at the Juilliard School, she was featured and interviewed by Alan Strong for “Voice of America” following her major concert in Washington, D.C. Critics sang her praises, confirming and agreeing that “Divinagracia Montalban truly is a class act”, (Ambassador Eduardo Romualdez, brother of then Philippines’ First Lady, Imelda Marcos) when she gave a command performance for the ambassadors and plenipotentiaries of the countries from Europe, Latin America, Canada, and Asia, and the members of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps in Wash, D.C. (some of whom were moved to tears as they gave her a rousing standing ovation). Bob Russell who likewise interviewed her on WNYC-FM’s “KALEIDOSCOPE” following her performance (broadcast live from from NYC) remarked: “Divinagracia Montalban, this lady musician-artist who has proven herself a starburst in all her performances in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Austria, and other parts of North America, has remained unspoiled by all her successes”.
Often singled out for her exceptional talent and marked musicality for one so young, Divinagracia Montalban was acclaimed a ‘child prodigy’ at age 7. “Nothing fazed Divinagracia inspite of the great demand exacted on her by her professional engagements as a concert violinist and soloist of all the major symphony orchestras in the Philippines. As a matter of fact, she won triple scholarships from the Philippine government, her school, and a private cultural organization for both her musical talents and scholastic excellence”. (Isagani Yambot, MANILA TIMES)......Appearing as guest artist in benefit concerts, recitals, musical programs in different schools, colleges,and prominent cultural gatherings, and finding herself in a maelstrom of media attention often became an ordinary experience for her. To top all these, Divinagracia suddenly developed a very melodious singing voice. During the Holy Week presentation of Belman’s “ Children on Parade” radio-TV show, she gave a vocal rendition of ‘Ave Maria’. “In recognition of her musical endowments, she was granted special permission by the Bureau of Education of the Philippines to cross-enroll in advanced college music courses ever since she was an eight-year old fourth grader in school.” (Danny Holmsen, MANILA CHRONICLE).
One of the most auspicious highlights of her career was her command performance as a professional violin concertist at age 10 for President & Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Malacanang Palace during their state visit to the Philippines. She had also shown her rare musical wares before the Royal Highnesses of Thailandand former Philippine Presidents and their respective First Ladies as well as the international political and religious bigwigs in megawatt affairs. “Divine Grace” (as she was fondly called by her then impressario, Jose Lauchengco) received unanimous raves from critics who could not resist drawing parallels to the artistic expertise of famous violin masters and international recording artists. Following her performance for the FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DES FEMMES JURISTES, she was praised by Atty. Raymonde Paul, (a NYC lawyer of French-American descent and contemporary/assisting pianist of the top-notch Russian-American violinist, JASCHA HEIFETZ in St. Petersburg, Russia). Not mincing her words, she wrote: “Although comparisons are usually unfair, I do want to tell you that I heard Jascha Heifetz play when he was Grace’s age and I was struck by the similarity of tone and technique....even the way Grace held her bow reminded me of Heifetz. I wish Grace all the success that God-given talent and her application to her playing entitles her to!” The pianist-turned-lawyer was willing to stake her reputation as a music lover on the fact that with further excellent training, Grace will become a famous violinist.
II. RUN UP TO PERFORMING YEARS
Excerpts from press releases featuring Divinagracia Montalban
A. (PHILIPPINES HERALD, Isagani Yambot, Editorial Staff):
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN started to show her precocity when she was only two years old. At that age, she was already choreographing her own dances. At 3, she was playing her own compositions on the piano which she named “Dancing Doll” and “Variations on a theme of ‘MILA DOLATRE’” (a Filipino lady harpist’s name spelled with musical notes based on the sol-fa syllable scale). That was before she had piano lessons. Her father, Engr. Pablo C. Montalban (who played the guitar and harmonica, and who later became a licensed Professional Civil & Structural Engineer in NYC, NJ, & CONN.), taught her how to read notes using the fingers as the music staff. She was barely 4 years of age.
“Divinagracia started to take formal lessons in piano at 4-1/2 under the tutelage of her godmother, PROF. ANGELA SOGUECO, (a University of the Philippines piano graduate). Her teacher immediately took notice of her unusually mature interpretation of difficult compositions that after a year, she made her first public appearance as the ‘primo’ piano lead (together with older brothers, PAUL HERSHELL and OSCAR REY, and sister/official pianist, AGNES BARBARA MONTALBAN. They played Franz Schubert’s “MARCHE MILITAIRE” in an 8-hand 2-piano ensemble”.
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN proved to be a brilliant precocious student. Newly turned 8, she won the 1st prize in the weekly talent contest of “Children on Parade” which was a run up to its grand finals a year later and which GRAND FIRST PRIZE she won again. She was declared “MOST TALENTED CHILD DISCOVERY”....On her Premiere Recital at age 9, her violin teacher was all praises for her, saying: ‘This girl has a terrific memory, technique, expression, and tremendous SOUL. I would say she has the makings of a virtuoso. As proof of her unusual ability, she can play difficult pieces by Paganini after only 3 years of studying the violin. Paganini Caprices can be normally played only by students in their 8th year of violin study’”.
C. (WOMEN’S MAGAZINE, Estrella D. Alfon):
“LITTLE ANGEL WITH STRINGS”...”the strings are on the violin.... and this angel plays with gusto.....very earthly, but a music so divine”..........
“It was by some fortunate chance that Divinagracia Montalban first smiled at me from a television screen. The program was a music appreciation hour and I caught the program telecast right in the middle. A little girl was playing efficient bow to the strings, self assured, completely at ease, yet never lacking in musicianship. An invitation to drop in at the Philippine Women’s University (College of Music and Arts) one afternoon brought me face to face with the engaging TV angel I had seen. Here was a young, bright eyed youngster with the polite manners of a well brought up child, seriously listening to her violin teacher’s instructions, and taking to her lessons like a duck takes to water.
“The facts of Divinagracia’s story are facts revealed by a loving mother, REGINA BARRETTO MONTALBAN (herself a singer over Philippine radio during the latter’s teenage years). The kind of child who at 2 years of age was choreographing her own dances; at 4, she was playing by ear the melody and accompaniment of her native folk songs such as “Leron, Leron Sinta”, “Bahay Kubo”, and “Chitchiritchit”. She was even improvising her own music to the amusement of her parents and family. When her parents felt she was ready for formal lessons in piano, they enrolled her at the Philippine Women’s University (College of Music & Fine Arts) under the enthusiastic care of Angela Roldan Sugueco, a graduate of PWU & UP music colleges. It was this teacher, (a close friend and piano accompanist of Divinagracia’s mother during the latter’s radio singing stints in Manila, Philippines), who upon hearing the little girl’s rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “18th Variation”, declared that ‘although only 5 years old, Divinagracia had the interpretative ability of an adult’. At 6, she joined her older sister and two brothers and played the lead in the “Montalban 8-Hand 2-Piano Ensemble”’s first public performance. ‘The agility of childish fingers on the ivory keyboard delighted the audiences into spontaneous ovations’.
“An audition test discovered the fact that the child was gifted with perfect pitch, that she excelled in music dictation, and was unchildishly and immediately disconcerted by any piano that was not set in standard tune. Showing an early aptitude for the violin, Divinagracia was given advanced exercises that within seven months, she was made a soloist of the Filipino Youth Symphony Orchestra, breezing through Accolay’s “Violin Concerto in A minor” at 7 years of age. As the main feature on “Musical Horizons”, she performed as pianist, violin soloist, and as the youngest lead violinist of the PWU College of Music & Arts Junior String Orchestra on her maiden national television appearance in the Philippines. Her accomplishments at the ivory keyboard or violin strings give the truth of the matter. She has the power to concentrate, a memory remarkable for her young years, and a typical child’s ability to give her best performances before an appreciative audience and for those whom she loves and worships. She is always composing on the piano, has already a multitude of small compositions she calls by their various moods: prayer, ‘kundiman’, march, lullaby, and dance.
“The girl, already Grade III at the piano and Grade II at the violin, is also gifted with a singing voice that is again true in pitch and often sings at the top of her voice which, by the way, reaches 3 octaves above middle C. She is Grade III also at the Singalong Parochial School, and is an honor student. There is one thing the child seems incapable of, boisterous laughter. She plays the game of childhood but without its raucous laughter. Her parents, Mr.& Mrs. Pablo C. Montalban, recognize the unusual gifts of Divinagracia; yet like sensible folk, try as much as they can to keep the child from living the abnormal life of a child prodigy. They allow her to know and acknowledge the acclaim that often follows her public appearances, but her own religiousness helps her to stay humble”.
D. (SCROLL, “PERSONALITIES”, official organ of the University of the
Philippines Preparatory School):
“Descending from a family where music tingles through their blood, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN has been composing nocturnes, waltzes, and sonatinas since she was a small child. Not satisfied with taking piano lessons alone, she also studied how to play the violin at 6-1/2 years of age. Her deftness in this instrument won her a full scholarship from the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines. Still her versatility in the field of music does not stop there. Her being endowed with a voice that soars as high as a singing lark’s sweeps everybody off his feet, or keeps him rooted to the ground to hear the singer, not the song. Aside from her beautiful voice and nimble fingers, she is light-footed and this enables her to dance gracefully during programs”.
III. SELF-DISCIPLINE AND GOOD WORK ETHIC BEHIND A BURGEONING CAREER
Excerpts from souvenir program notes and other major newspaper articles on DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN.......
(PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS):
“YOUNG VIOLINIST on PHILIPPINE WOMEN’s UNIVERSITY TELECAST”
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, 7-year old discovery of Philippine Women’s University and the College of Music & Arts Junior Violin Ensemble, was featured in the 13th “MUSICAL HORIZONS”telecast over DZAQ-TV Channel 3. Divinagracia, who has been studying violin for only a year, performed her quarter-size instrument FIOCCO’s ‘Allegro’ with her sister, AGNES, as piano accompanist, and the ACCOLAY’s ‘Violin Concerto in A minor’ with the Filipino Youth Symphony Orchestra String Orchestra assisting. The CMA Junior String Ensemble was led by the child violinist”.
B. (CULTURAL SHOW, International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines, Mercy Lauchengco-Drillon c/o impresario, Jose Lauchengco):
“By the time Divinagracia Montalban was 7 years old, she was in great demand as a guest violinist in junior and senior piano recitals, although almost invariably, she stole the show from the featured soloist. She was also invited to many social benefits and programs where she played her newly learned pieces. Despite these engagements, however, she did not lag behind in her academic studies. As a matter of fact, she was awarded a presidential scholarship (from Grade IV to VII) at the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School by President Francisca Tirona Benitez of the Philippine Women’s University. Now in Grade V, she continues to be in the honor roll........Divinagracia received a half-size violin as a gift from DR. LUIS U. SANTOS, a philanthropist/music aficionado from Malolos, Bulacan (who was overwhelmingly impressed by the little girl’s amazing TV music debut using then a quarter-size violin that she has outgrown). Playing on the newly acquired violin, she won the GRAND FINALS in the “CHILDREN ON PARADE” TV program and was adjudged the “MOST TALENTED CHILD DISCOVERY”.....The crowning recognition of her talent came when she was awarded a full scholarship after winning the ‘SEARCH FOR TALENT in VIOLIN’ contest”.
C. (DAILY MAGAZINE, Isagani Yambot):
“NINE-YEAR OLD IS NEWEST VIOLIN PRODIGY”......
“At the age of 9, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, will give her 1st formal solo recital at St. Cecilia’s Hall, playing difficult pieces by Paganini, Handel, Mendelssohn, and Ries. This musically precocious child is a 5th grader and one of two children chosen in a national violin contest last May.........At play in the campus, Divinagracia looks like an average elementary school girl whose thoughts, one would assume, turn more naturally to dolls and recess than violins and practice lessons. But on stage, whether interpreting MOLINA’s “Hating Gabi” or going through the intricacies of PAGANINI’s “Caprice #2” in B minor, DIVINAGRACIA is all poise, all concentration, all expression and feeling........She is the youngest of 4 children.....and developed the desire to play the violin after hearing another talented but much older violin virtuoso (Carmencita Lozada) practice day after day at the College of Music and Arts of the Philippine Women’s University. The violin tutor recalls how he caught the 6-1/2 - year old girl, her ears pressed against the glass partition of the classroom, listening intently to the strains produced by the lady’s fingers on the violin. After observing her interest in the violin for nearly 3 months, the instructor looked over Divinagracia’s hands and chose her from among the Montalban children to study the violin. He was not mistaken in his choice. Divinagracia proved to be a brilliant and precocious pupil”.
D. (From the pages of DIVINAGRACIA “GRACE” MONTALBAN’s souvenir program of “A Concert to Remember”) “SIGNIFICANT INCIDENT IN GRACE’s YOUNG CAREER”
“Ten-year old DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, on her way to the Club Filipino to play before an audience of international women lawyers, little realized that the occasion would prove more significant than it appeared on the outset. Several times she had been invited to play at social events like this one. Some had really been momentous incidents in her young career, like the time she played for United States President DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER at the state dinner in his honor in Malacanan Palace. But on the average, these occasions had been little more than welcome opportunities to practice her art in public, and thereby gain in poise and experience.
“And so, as she had done on previous occasions, Divinagracia packed her violin — a German-make 3/4 size recently purchased for her by the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines as part of her full scholarship at the College of Music & Arts of the Philippine Women’s University. Making for the Club Filipino (with her mother and her sister/pianist, Agnes) where the delegates, including about 75 from abroad, of the Federacion Internacional de Abogadas (FIDA) then holding a convention, were to be guests of Filipino women lawyers at a dinner. Divinagracia , at her tender age already famous as a prodigy, was to be among some noted musicians who were to entertain the women lawyers.
“Divinagracia was third in the program with her sister on the piano, and gave her listeners an earful of first: ‘Malagueña’ by Sarasate, and ‘Czardas’by Monti. For lawyers, the audience was extremely appreciative, the applause was loud and prolonged. Divinagracia had to oblige with an encore. This time she played ‘Meditation’ (from the opera, ‘Thais’). Then she took her bow and retreated to give way to the next number in the program.
“But unknown to the little prodigy, one among the soloist’s audience of women lawyers was more than extremely appreciative. She was impressed to the core, and it was not only the lawyer in her that had responded to Divinagracia’s playing for RAYMONDE PAUL,editor of the FIDA journal, “LA ABOGADA” was more than just a lawyer. She was also a musician, had in fact started out in her career as a pianist. She said: ‘Divinagracia’s violin technique — the way she held the bow, the very tone and nuances she evoked from the instrument — had reminded her of another child prodigy of another time. This was none other than the great JASCHA HEIFETZ’.
“Jose Lauchengco, the prodigy’s impresario, sought an interview with Mrs. Paul. The good lawyer consented to be interviewed at her suite in the Manila Hotel and asked Mr. Lauchengco to bring Divinagracia with him. The FIDA editor told the young violinist, who was tickled pink to say the least, and her impresario, that she had been a contemporary of Jascha Heifetz, and that she went to the same school as he did in St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. She was studying piano then, and at student recitals, she was often asked to accompany young Jascha on the piano. Jascha, Mrs. Paul recalled, was a very serious young student and often hit her on the head with the bow of his violin whenever she would miss a note or go wrong on the tempo. Divinagracia, she said further without mincing her words, played exactly like Jascha did at that age. She was so sure Divinagracia would become, one day, as famous a violinist as her forebear and was willing to stake her reputation as music lover on it. Forthwith, she offered to write Mr. Lauchengco a letter to remember her words about the young protégée. The letter follows:
‘Dear Mr. Lauchengco:
I don’t want to leave Manila without telling you how much I enjoyed hearing Grace Montalban play the other night for FIDA. Although comparisons are unfair, I do want to tell you I heard JASCHA HEIFETZ play while he was Grace’s age —- and I was struck by the similarity of tone and technique.
I wish Grace all the success that God given talent and her application to her playing entitles her to! With warmest regards to Grace, her sister, her mother, and yourself.
Raymonde Paul’ “
E. (MANILA BULLETIN, Associated Press, United Press International,
Greg M. Datuin):
“OUR GIFTED CHILDREN...10 Youths Display Unusual Talents”.....
“A child prodigy and 9 students with plenty of gray matter up there can now realize a common dream — continue their studies and have a career. The 10 youths, all especially talented but financially handicapped, were chosen as scholars by the Foundation for Gifted Children. Three out of four full time scholars were already selected. Youngest and easily the most brilliant, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, is a student of music at the Philippine Women’s University. At the tender age of 5, she was already composing musical pieces for piano and violin. Her compositions were taken down note for note by her music instructors while she pounded the keys of the piano with her tiny hands. (Divinagracia also sings and dances like an expert). The scholarship foundation did not find it necessary to require her to take an examination. Foundation officials just saw one impromptu concert. That was all”.
F. (MANILA TIMES, Cultural Scenes):
“10-YEAR OLD VIOLIN PRODIGY SELECTED SCHOLAR of FOUNDATION FOR GIFTED TOTS”
“The Foundation for Gifted Children announced the selection ofDIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, a music prodigy as one of 4 full scholar to be supported by the Children’s Museum & Library, Inc. While the three unidentified others were screened from among 30 high school students who chalked up the highest marks in an examination given by the bureau of public schools, the 10-year old virtuoso has been highly praised by music professionals here. Hailed as a versatile child, she also composes her own pieces which her instructors said revealed remarkable talent. The foundation will provide for the tuition fee, books, allowance, and accommodation of the scholars”.
G. (MANILA TIMES, Lina Flor’s Sparklers):
“GIFTED CHILD GREETS PRESIDENT EISENHOWER”
“Within the space of only one week, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, youngest beneficiary of the Foundation for Gifted Children, will have had the rare experience of sharing the limelight with a world celebrity even for a moment two times. The first one was during the special premier showing of “BEN HUR” for the benefit of the Foundation for Gifted Children when the young Divinagracia was photographed kissing CHARLTON HESTON on the cheek. The picture appeared prominently on the front pages of the Philippine newspapers the following morning.....The second time will be tonight when she plays the violin for the United States PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER in Malacanan Palace. To the gifted child, who has remained innocent and unaffected through all the honors she has been reaping so early in life, it appeared foolish that anyone should be congratulated just for having kissed or been kissed by an international screen star —whereas playing the violin not only well but excellently was something that not many are able to do so. And when she does it, then she knows she deserves the applause and congratulations”.
H. (MANILA CHRONICLE, Looking Through, Susan Atkinson Fischer):
“VIOLINIST PRODIGY PERFORMS BEFORE CLUB MEMBERS TODAY”
“Over 100 ladies most of whom were from the cosmopolitan set made a fashionable, attentive audience for the poised professional performance of 10-year old violinist, Divinagracia Montalban, at the Manila Polo Club........ ‘Table service, Musicale, set tone of simple elegance’ marked the ‘Invitational Tea’ given by the Catholic Women’s Club President, Mrs. Harry Richmiller for the club members. The program of 7 violin numbers and Buencamino’s “LARAWAN” by pianist, AGNES MONTALBAN, 14-year old sister and official piano accompanist of Divinagracia, began shortly after 4 pm. Both guest artists wore simple white dresses and performed on a low platform set against a 4-panel Chinese screen of black lacquer. After the 1-hour program, refreshments were served from 5 tea tables all arranged with simple elegance by the international lady club members........Feminine tea gatherings (noted locally as among the rudest of audiences) set a new record at this ‘September Tea’ when for 40 minutes, not so much as a powder puff dropped during the special guest appearance of talented DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, the child violin prodigy’ “.
I. (MANILA TIMES, Lina Flor Sparklers):
“Children are notable show stealers. In movies where there’s a little child especially in a sympathetic role, it’s indeed an unusually excellent grownup actor who would manage to keep the former from hogging the limelight. In fact, I know of many well-established stars who are most reluctant in appearing with a child actor because of this natural reaction of the audience”.
“And so it was with the benefit concert of the CHILDREN’s MUSEUM & LIBRARY, Inc. at the Philamlife Auditorium last Thursday night. Lilia Reyes, the noted soprano, was the main feature. But as it turned out, it was the two little artists who played intermission numbers gained the enthusiastic applause from the audience. They were DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, 12-year old violinist, and ELEANOR “Pinky” AMADO, 8-year old pianist. But in this case, perhaps this partiality to the children performers was quite justified. After all, the benefit performance was to raise funds for the FOUNDATION FOR GIFTED CHILDREN, and these two prodigies are undoubtedly among them”.
J. (DAILY MIRROR):
“VIOLIN PRODIGY CONCERT SEPT 28”
“The much awaited performance of DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, 10-year old prodigy, in a “CONCERT TO REMEMBER “ with the FYSO Philharmonic Orchestra has been set for Wed, Sept 28, at 6:15 p.m. in St. Cecilia’s Hall of St. Scholastica’s College on Pennsylvania Ave. Presented by Jose Lauchengco, impresario, the affair is sponsored by the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines, with the proceeds going to the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission for the construction of the National Theater.”
“Commenting on the forthcoming performance of Divinagracia Montalban, Jovita Fuentes, chairman of the Music Promotion Foundation, said: ‘Every so often, we witness the flowering of a promising bud. In the case of this young artist, one could almost say that this bud of a violin virtuoso had chosen to bloom outright. It is as though, impelled by the irrepressible floral impatience,she chooses to unfold her young petals in order thus to bask sooner and longer in the sun of public wonderment and appreciation for such rare and prodigious talent.’ The Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines deemed it, therefore a pleasant duty to extend to her a full scholarship at the College of Music and Arts of the Philippine Women’s University”.
K. (THE SUNDAY TIMES):
“PROCEEDS TO NATIONAL THEATER”
“Presented by impresario, Jose Lauchengco, “A CONCERT TOREMEMBER“ will feature DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, 10-year old violin prodigy, to be assisted by the FYSO Phlharmonic Orchestra. The proceeds are earmarked for the Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission for the construction of the National Theater........ Rossini,s “La Gazza Ladra Overture“ will open the 3-part program. The young violinist’s interpretation of Mozart’s “Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major” and Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto E minor”, Op. 64 will complete the evening’s program”.
L. (EVENING NEWS, Adelaida Katigbak):
“CRITIC, SKEPTICAL IN THE BEGINNING, FINDS GIRL VIOLINIST A REAL PRODIGY”
“Despite press reports proclaiming DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN a child prodigy, we headed for last evening’s concert with a wait-and-see attitude. But after Divinagracia’s interpretation of Mozart’s ‘Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Violin Concerto in E minor’ (both with the orchestra), reservations began to crumble. By the end of the concert, we were ready to concede—here indeed is a prodigy.....’Considering that she is only 10 and has had training for violin-playing for only 4 years, one is inevitably led to the conclusion that she possesses a rare talent that has been developed so early and so well at so early an age, that she can legitimately claim to the title of prodigy’..An added bonus is her captivating stage presence. Her appeal is in her naturalness in her being just herself. There is no attempt to ape adult behavior nor to appear childish and coy. She presented a picture of a lovable girl unaffected by all the applause the audience was showering upon her....Kriesler’s ‘Praeludium and Allegro’ was her response to clamor for an encore”.
M. (MANILA TIMES, Rodrigo Perez, III):
“At the tender and proverbially innocent age of 10, MISS MONTALBAN has a tremendously appealing stage personality which combines the charms of a child and professional. She plays with the concentration and assurance of an adult, and she acknowledges applause with good humor and dignity that even adults have failed to master. (Yet she is not above scratching her nose or wiping her hand on her skirt when necessity demands it). After playing the piece de resistance, she did not, as in the custom, shake hands with the conductor (her teacher) but pulled herself up and gave him a nice, daughterly kiss. In brief, a sweet little girl........ At her age, nothing is more important than the proper foundation and the implicit promise of higher achievement in the future, near or distant”.
N. (MANILA CHRONICLE):
“REPEAT PERFORMANCE of MONTALBAN SET”
“Due to insistent public demand, a repeat performance of “A Concert To Remember” featuring Divinagracia Montalban, 10-year old violin prodigy, will be held at 10 a.m. on Sun, Oct 9, at the St. Cecilia,s Hall, St. Scholastica’s College on Pennsylvania Ave. The young concert violinist, a full scholar of the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines, was warmly acclaimed by the music critics for the magnficent performance last week. She will be assisted by the FYSO Pilharmonic Orchestra”.
O. (MANILA TIMES):
“ENCORE”....Violin Prodigy Repeats Concert........
“By insisted public demand, a repeat performance of A Concert To Remember” featuring Divinagracia Montalban, 10-year old violin prodigy. She will be assisted by the FYSO Phiharmonic Orchestra. The concert will take place at 10 a.m. , Sun, Oct 9, at St. Cecilia’s Hall, St Scholastica’s College on Pennsylvania Ave.”.... Mozart’s “Violin Concerto #5 in A major” (K. 219) and Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E minor”, 0p. 64, (both in 3 movements) will be the masterpieces she will perform again sans scores on Sun morning”.
P. (MANILA TIMES, Lina Flor Sparklers):
“DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, who fairly stole the show at the recent benefit concert presented by the CHILDREN’s MUSEUM & LIBRARY, INC. at the Philamlife Auditorium, deserves extra kudos for having performed so well that night. For it turns out that the 12-year old violinist had just recovered from a bout with influenza, and earlier that evening, suffered a relapse which caused her parents to having her performance canceled. But Grace (her nickname) would not hear of it, adamantly declared that the show must go on, and she would manage all right. And managed she did, not only well but excellently, despite very high fever and aching joints. (This explains why she had to wear a long-sleeved woolen blouse with her sheer and frilly dress that night)”.
Q. (MANILA TIMES, Rodrigo Perez, III):
“PRECOCIOUS MUSICIANS WERE ADDED CONCERT ATTRACTIONS”
“Once in a while, in the year-long contrapuntal chorus of appeals to worthy causes, the civic-spirited, newspaper-reading citizen catches the name of the FOUNDATION for GIFTED CHILDREN. No doubt you know that its main purpose is to support the specialized education of young prodigies, so we shan’t say anymore. For this concert-goer, there isn’t a more irresistible appeal for such support than the mere existence of precocious ones like DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN and ELEANOR AMADO. They are lovable girls, and aside from that are astonishing musicians. They were the added attractions at Lilia T. Reyes’ benefit concert. Miss Montalban performed with her now familiar technical facility and musical intelligence. Good luck to both of them today, and we’ll need them tomorrow.”
R. (MANILA TIMES, Focus on Youth):
“Soloist, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, is not new to Manila’s concert audience; she has been giving recitals since she was 9 years old. She is the only soloist heard by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Malacanan Palace during his state visit in Manila. Now 13 years old, she is a sophomore at the University of the Philippines Prepatory School and a scholar in violin of the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines at the Philippine Women’s University’s College of Music & Fine Arts. She has a special permit from the Bureau of Education to take tutorial lessons in advanced theory and counterpoint —perhaps the youngest student to ever take those two advanced college subjects. Divinagracia will play the complete three movements of “Concerto No.1 in D major, Op 6 by the greatest violin virtuoso of all time, Nicolo Paganini. She will have the distinction of being the 2nd Filipino violinist to perform this masterpiece in its entirety in her country, (although the 1st to do it at age 13). The older violin virtuoso, Carmencita Lozada, played it at 14 years old”.
S. (MANILA BULLETIN, “Over a Cup of Coffee”, Teodoro F. Valencia):
“A Page For the Young At Heart......CULTURAL NOTES”
“The Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines did well in giving partial subsidy to the FYSO concert yesterday that featured a 13-year old violinist, DIVINAGRACIA MONTALBAN, and an 11-year old pianist, DONNA SANTOS. We are discovering talent faster than we can create opportunities to make their genius shine. The two prodigies will be presented at the Philamlife Auditorium tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. Divinagracia will perform PAGANINI’s “Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major”, Op. 6”.