Filipino-Australian classical guitarist Bernardo Soler has been recognised with a nomination as Best Instrumentalist in the prestigious Aliw Awards, highlighting his exceptional talent in the music world.
The winners of the 36th Annual Aliw Awards will be announced on December 11, 2023, at the Manila Hotel Centennial Hall. This event marks the foundation’s 46th year and will celebrate the exceptional talents of Filipino live entertainers.
The Artist’s Journey
Hailing from the Philippines, Soler’s music career began under his brother’s guidance. He completed his Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, Manila, in 1989. He furthered his studies in Australia in 1992.
Soler’s Early Milestones
A series of impressive victories and global representations have marked Bernardo Soler’s journey in the world of classical guitar.
In 1981, his exceptional talent was recognised with the first prize at the “Concurso de Guitarra “organised by the Centro Cultural de la Embajada de Espana, celebrated during La Semana de Hispanidad. That same year, he also won first prize in the “National Music Competition for Young Artists “(Category A) in the Philippines.
His winning streak continued into 1982, earning him the Grand Prix at the 6th Philippine Guitar Competition, as well as the second prize in the “Southeast Asian Guitar Competition” in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Soler’s mastery of the classical guitar was further acknowledged in 1987 when he won first prize in the “National Music Competition for Young Artists “(Category C) in the Philippines.
A landmark moment in his career was in 1988, when he became the first Filipino classical guitarist to represent the country at the “Concourso International de Ejucacion Musical Dr. Luis Sigall “in Vina del Mar, Chile.
In 1994, he continued to carry the Philippine flag on the international stage at the “Primer Concourso International de Guitarra Agustin Barrios “in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Soler’s musical prowess has earned him accolades and taken him to various corners of the world. He has performed in a multitude of countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Paraguay, the United States, and Australia, leaving a global imprint with his music.
“Echoes of the World”: A Musical Journey with Bernardo Soler
On August 12, 2023, Bernardo Soler graced the Manila Pianos showroom in Makati City with his solo guitar recital, “Echoes of the World,” presented by the Manila Pianos Artist Series. This event showcased Soler’s diverse musical repertoire, featuring a blend of traditional and contemporary pieces.
The recital was a remarkable showcase of Soler’s broad musical range. He enthralled the audience with his rendition of the traditional “Malaguena,” his own arrangement exuding a unique charm. Pieces like the emotive “Hating Gabi” by Antonio Molina and the romantic “Minamahal Kita” by Mike Velarde, both arranged by Soler, highlighted his ability to breathe new life into classic compositions. The evening was further enriched with “Tanging Yaman” by Fr. Manoling Francisco, the haunting Filipino folksong “Lulay,” and the international melodies of “Ha Na Wa Saku” by Yoko Kanno and “Theme and Variations on Sakura” by Yuquiro Yocoh, all demonstrating Soler’s flair for blending cultural musical landscapes.
A video of his latest performance in Manila offers a window into Soler’s artistic expression.
The Road Ahead
Soler’s forthcoming performances are scheduled in Japan (February 2024), Singapore (June 2024), and the Philippines (July 2024). His recent “Echoes of the World” recital highlighted his varied musical selections, emphasizing his dedication to sharing Philippine music internationally.
Inspiring the Next Generation
Soler’s musical career demonstrates the wide appeal of classical guitar. In Australia, he shares his expertise by teaching aspiring guitarists, guiding them to improve their skills and understand different musical styles. Soler’s dual role as a performer and instructor continues to inspire young musicians, fostering continual growth and international exchange in the musical community.