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My Dream for My Children

(Article published in the Jul 14, 2010 issue of Manila Standard Today)   

Standard Insurance Company, Inc., is sponsoring a violin concert, entitled “My Dreams for My Children”, to be held on Sunday, July 18, at the Far Eastern University, starting at 6:00 pm.  The main performers are Regina Buenaventura, a full scholar at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in Chicago and Diomedes Saraza Jr., also a full school scholar, at Juilliard School of Music, New York. Accompanying them is the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Professor Arturo Molina.

Standard Insurance’s support of the two young artists is not a flash in the pan. Providing financial assistance to underprivileged but deserving students has been a personal advocacy of Standard Insurance’s Chairman, Mr. Ernesto Echauz, since the 1980s and he has continued to do so even after joining Standard Insurance back in 1994.  Helping those in need, in the field of education is in his genes. His father, the late Dr. Romeo Echauz, founded the Sto. Bambino Foundation in Naic, Cavite back in 1998.  That foundation has been providing financial assistance to indigent but deserving students who are presently enrolled in reputable public and private schools in the country. The foundation started out with 15 students and the beneficiaries of the Echauz generosity slowly increased over the years.  

Standard Insurance’s presentation of the young artists is undoubtedly going to be an absorbing showcase of the budding violinists’ talents; but it is also a demonstration that good giving is itself an art and a science.

The initial requirement of what falls in Howard Gardner’s terminology, good work, is the ability to select good seeds.  And both Buenaventura and Saraza come from good stock.


Regina’s grandfather was the composer, conductor, and National Artist for Music, Col. Antonino Buenaventura.  Her grandmother, Prof. Rizalina Buenaventura, is a well-known violin soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster, and violin teacher.  Dio, too, was born to a family of musicians.  His father and first teacher was a violinist. So was his brother Ivan. 

The good seed of talent and genes ought to be planted in the good soil of training and competitions.  Regina’s early years were not wanting in either.  When she was ten, she was awarded by the UST Conservatory of Music with a scholarship to study with Prof. Sergio Esmilla. After a year of his guidance, she won first prize at the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA), Category A.

That achievement opened other doors. In no time, Regina was studying under the violin professors Basilio Manalo, Arturo Molina, and Gina Medina. Under their tutelage, she had her orchestral debut with the Manila Symphony Orchestra II at 14 years old, playing Camille Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto in B minor. This was followed quickly by performances with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Filharmonika.  Filharmonika featured her as the violin soloist in its CD of her grandfather’s music, entitled “Heritage: The Music of Col. Antonino Buenaventura.”

By the time she was 15, Regina was ready for the outside world. She then performed in Texas and in Chicago, notably, in College Station, Texas, where she was invited to perform at the President George Bush Library

Dio, too, had his share of challenge.  Dio performed as a soloist of the PREDIS Chamber Orchestra and Children Orchestra as a concert master. He became the youngest member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra II and has been featured in Maestro Filipino I and Friends of Cultural Center of The Philippines (CCP) Concerts.

At the age of 8, Dio was one of the delegates in the 45th Suzuki Music Convention (1998) held in Japan. In the same year, he was Wyeth’s Promil “The Gifted Child” commercial model. He was featured at his solo debut recital at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at the Pasig Music Festival. In 2002, he won first place at the National Music Competition for Young Artists. In 2003, he made his concert debut entitled, “The Gift” at the CCP and was cited as one of the best performances in 2003 by the Manila Bulletin in the Philippines.

He moved to New York in the summer of 2005 to pursue his studies in violin at the Mannes College, Preparatory Division. He was under the tutelage of respected violin pedagogue, Dr. Chin Kim. From 2006-2008, when he joined the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Vermont and played the Khachaturian Violin Concerto (2006), Wieniawski’s 1st Violin Concerto in f-sharp minor (2007), and Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (2008) for each summer’s opening concert. In 2007, he won the Friday-Woodmere Young Artist Competition in Hewlett, NY and was featured in WQXR 96.3's Rob Sherman's Young Artist Showcase, a classical radio station in New York. In 2008, He won the Mannes Concerto Competition which led him to a performance with the Mannes Philharmonic under the baton of Mr. Michael Adelson, assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Soon, he became the concertmaster of the Mannes Philharmonic in 2009. Also, his chamber group won the American Teacher's League Competition 2009 and was later featured at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York. Later that year. He had a  homecoming concert in the Philippines entitled “Symphonic Virtuosity” at Philam Life Auditorium and “Commemorations” at Far Eastern University Auditorium with the respected German conductor, Mr. Christoph Poppen and the Manila Symphony Orchestra. 

Constant nurture of nature is important and Standard Insurance was up to the task of providing life-giving water.  Today, at 19, Dio just had his New York concert debut with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble at Julia Richman Auditorium. He also became a prizewinner of the 2010 Juilliard Competition playing William Schuman's Violin Concerto. In addition, he was chosen to perform at Paul Hall for an important, long-tradition concert at the Juilliard School called “Sonatenabend CXLI,” an all-sonata concert. He is currently a freshman at the Juilliard School with full-tuition scholarship, studying under the tutelage of Prof. Stephen Clapp, Dean Emeritus of the Juilliard School.

Regina, for her part, is currently studying under one of the most sought-after artist-teachers Prof. Almita Vamos at the Bienen School of Music of Northwestern University, in Evanston, IllinoisNorthwestern University awarded her a merit scholarship upon admission, and she has been on the Dean’s List consistently. She has had cham under Dr. Roland Vamos and Mr. Mat ber music coachings hias Tacke of the famed Vermeer Quartet. She was also fortunate to play in masterclasses taught by the world-famous violin virtuosos Ruggiero Ricci, Alice Schoenfeld, and Shmuel Ashkenasi.

Together, they will perform Sarasate’s Navarra.  But to demonstrate the road which each had already traveled,  Dio will be performing Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D Major.  Regina’s repertoire, on the other hand, consists of the Brahms Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s challenging Souvenir d’un lieu cher