Greg Zuniega, the first PHSA alumnus to become director
Our featured artist today is pianist Greg Zuniega. He graduated from the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) and was a regular on the Chancellor’s List, achieving the highest GPA for the two semesters he spent at the Class. University of the Philippines (UP), as Maria-CCP. (Makiling Academy) scholar.
Pianist Greg Zuniega performs and lectures on classical and Filipino music.
He continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow and completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London. He also holds the following degrees: BS Economics (London School of Economics) and Master in Public Management (UP).
He has performed in North America, Europe and Asia. He has been featured soloist of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO); Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra.
We interviewed Greg on our radio show, “Culture Carousel” which airs every Saturday from 12pm to 1pm at 98.7DZFE-FM, the Master’s Touch. Here is that interview.
You were awarded the Tagere Gold Medal for Excellence by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. How was the experience?
The patron saint of the Royal College of Music was the Queen and she attended our awards ceremony which was very exciting. I feel blessed that this special event was part of my young life as a musician, which was very difficult as I had to juggle my studies and my work as a freelance musician (playing in hotels, weddings or as a pianist resident church, and chamber music concerts, etc.) As I was a scholar, but had to work for my other expenses, the award was an added bonus to what I learned in London.
You graduated from PHSA as a promotion major and are now its director. How does it feel to be the first PHSA graduate and to hold this position?
The PHSA has been around for 44 years and my appointment as director – the first alumnus to hold such a position – means that in a way the PHSA is in the right direction as it has been mandated to develop young artists who are equipped to become the cultural leaders of the country and to preserve and promote Filipino art and Filipino artists.
What makes a great artist for you?
When I was young, my definition of excellence focused on perfecting one’s craft, practicing toward perfection, to the point of having a narrow and unique vision. Now that I’m more mature, excellence has something to do with being able to bring something to society – especially Filipino society – where there are big issues like poverty, overpopulation with little. support for the arts. An excellent performer in an underdeveloped country like the Philippines must educate their audience, especially the younger generation, who do not have the proper exposure to classical performances, whether in music or dance.
Now that you are a teacher, what are the most important things you can advise your students to help them someday become exceptional artists like you?
We need to encourage young artists because distractions abound these days. Now that the pandemic is still not fully contained, many of our artists are facing unemployment.
However, I believe in the resilience and creativity of Pinoys, who had to temporarily think about making a living in unusual ways, like doing business online. Discipline is a fundamental requirement for all artists and the determination to be heard by an audience is equally important. As artists constantly face pressure and uncertainty, it is important to have faith in God, the ultimate source of all wisdom and creativity.