Last Saturday, Carlos "Chuckie" Ibay performed at Marconi Club for the local Filipino Community Religous Association. Although the accoustics of the hall wasn't very well tuned to accomodate his truly great talents his gift was very apparent and awe inspiring. He played pieces from Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin, all without sheet music for he has one striking disability - blindness. So all his music, every tune, harmony and beat is all committed to memory. The music was close to flawless (compared to the pieces I've heard before) but minor mistakes can't take away from his purpose in life and what he has accomplished in the 26 years of his life.
After the intermission the American-Filipino sung classic filipino songs as well as traditional English, Italian and Spanish songs. Again, without sheet music to guide Ibay while playing out these songs on piano or even guiding him has he sung the lyrics in his baritone voice.
"It took years until I finally got pregnant," says his mother. The son of Filipino parents who migrated to the United States in 1971, he was diagnosed as being a 'high-risk pregnancy'. The physician advised his mother, Carmacita, to abort him. The parents, however, disagreed. They were firm in the belief that what God had given them should not be killed. Instead, they chose life. He was born two months premature and was monitored in an incubator, where through a hospital error, he was over-exposed to oxygen and eventually lost his eye-sight.
Despite Ibay's handicap, he grew up as a normal child, surrounded by the love and care of his nurturing parents who were constantly beside him. If blindness for some people is considered a handicap, for Carlos it became a challenge to hone the other skills and talents given to him by God. By the age of two, “Chuckie”, as his parents call him, started to play the house organ, by listening to a piece and playing by ear. His parents noticed he had an additional rare quality, ‘perfect pitch’- an extraordinary sense of distinguishing tones. By the age of 9, with his clear baritone voice, he was presented to the public as a child prodigy in vocals and piano.
Once, his mother relates, Carlos came home from school and asked why his schoolmates kept telling him he was blind. “But I am not blind!"
Though he was not able to enter the prestigious Julliard School of Music because of his blindness, "one of the school's professors is a very good friend of Chuckie." his father said. For piano and voice studies, he went to the Levine School of Music in New York. His vocal repertoire includes sacred songs, Broadway musicals, and jazz, among others.
Carlos is also gifted in languages, and is fluent in German, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian and Japanese.
His parents admit that there were challenges in raising a blind child. But in their perspective, this cross was short-lived as they saw him grow into a man with such great talent and generosity in sharing his abilities with people in need.
He has held concerts in the United States to benefit churches and religious organizations, for a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and a health center for AIDS patients and for war refugees in Bosnia, He has also performed for the benefit of victims of the earthquakes in the Philippines.
Carlos Ibay played last year on Saturday, October 1, 2005 at the "Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall" one of the three stages at Carnegie Hall. Ibay has played in the Philippines performing at 11 venues.
Song List (Programme):
First Part (Piano Pieces performed by Carlos Ibay):
Mozart - 12 Variations on 'Ah, vous Diai-je, Maman' K.265
Beethoven - Sonata in No. 14 in C# minor, "Moonlight Sonata" and Andante Sostenuto (1st movement)
Liszt - Liebestraum No. 3 and Concert Etude No. 3, "La Campanella"
Chopin - Etude in E, Opus 10 No. 3 and Fantasy Impromtu, Opus 66 and Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Opus 31
Second Part (Vocals with Piano both performed by Carlos Ibay):
Rogers/Hart - With a Song in My Heart
Brodsky - Because
Celerio - Ikaw ang Ligaya Ko (You are my happiness)
G. Canseco - Kapantay ay Langit
Lerner/Loewe/Ibay (Compilation Suite - Piano arrangement by Carlos Ibay) - Fantasy on Themes from My Fair Lady
Carillo - Sabor a Mi
Lara - Granada
Donida/Drake/Rapetti - Al Dila
Traditional - Santa Lucia