Astonishing tandem of percussionists Aimee and Gioia Francesco Dela Cruz
Our star artists today are the mother-son tandem of Aimee Mina de la Cruz (percussionist) and her son Gioia (Gio) Francesco de la Cruz (violinist and percussionist).
Aimee has been a guest on Culture Carousel as a soloist, as well as with some of her fellow co-members of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO). But this is the first time that we have introduced Aimee and her son Gio together.
Gio’s first public appearance was at the age of four, as a violinist in commemoration of his school’s founding day. Last year, he performed virtually during the percussion segment of PCC’s Trick and Musical Treats. Most recently, he performed marimba at the Virtual Recital of the Ilocano Sector of the Philippines of the Music Teacher’s Network Alliance (MTNA). He won the 2nd prize at the Mark and Pioneer International Music Competition in 2021 in the Soloist E category and the 3rd prize at the Bacoor International Music Championships 2021 in the Solo Xylophone / Marimba Junior Class category.
He was part of the Philippines team for the 2021 Asian Games in December and won honorable mention in the prodigy category of the Clara Schumann International Competition. Her father is the main PPO violist, Joy Allan de la Cruz.
We recently interviewed Aimee and Gio on our radio show, Culture Carousel, which airs every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on 98.7DZFE-FM, la Touche du Maître. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.
Was it natural for Gio to learn the marimba, or did he show signs that he wanted to be a singer?
Aimee: I have been teaching for almost 20 years now. I heard Gio and I can say, yes, he could sing. I answer this question as a teacher and not as a mother. It was natural for Gio to learn the marimba, he learns quickly and he has the rhythm and the height. One thing I really admire is that he plays with his accompaniment without my supervision.
Gio, what other musical instruments do you play?
In addition to the marimba, I also play the xylophone, timpani, piano and violin.
Isn’t competing stressful for you, Gio, in the midst of all your homework and other school stuff?
No, I don’t find it stressful, but I get scared every time I need to register to compete.
During this pandemic what are your “new normal activities” with your family?
A: Our family activities during this pandemic are of course playing musical instruments; bike just outside the house. I like to train and sometimes Gio trains with me.
G: For me, I really like building Lego and painting.
Aimée, how do you create artistic harmony in the family?
When we observed Gio, he actually started playing the piano when he was 3 years old. It was his father Joy, who then taught him. And at 4, he also introduced the violin to Gio. I just started to focus on teaching Gio percussion instruments at the start of the pandemic. We were right at home and were able to invest in a number of keyboard and percussion instruments. Seeing all these huge instruments, visually, it drew Gio to play them.
One day, during violin lessons, he told his father, he first wanted to focus on percussion instruments, especially the xylophone. So we respected his decision, first made him stop playing the violin and focused on xylophone lessons. The pandemic is quite a challenge for us musicians, especially for us percussionists.
Fortunately, the virtual contests have helped us to keep the interests of our students. As soon as I heard about the virtual contest, I asked Gio if he wanted to participate and he said yes. He chose a play suitable for his age. After a month, he noticed the violin and started playing his old songs. My husband saw the Clara Schumann International Competition and asked if Gio wanted to participate, and Gio said yes again. So this time he’s getting ready for a violin competition and a marimba recital. The program was therefore very busy. He had school until lunchtime, we took him a nap and he had marimba lessons with me for 30 minutes, and in the evening, an hour of lessons with his dad, preparation for a competition. violin. As parents, we do our best to respect his opinions and decisions about entering competitions and the instruments he would like to play.
Gio, how do you feel after a performance?
I feel happy because I have already finished playing a song that is too hard.
What is your New Year wish?
G: I wish I could play more timpani pieces. And I would like to win the first prize in a competition one day.
A: I wish Gio would continue to enjoy learning all the instruments we have here. Hearing that he wants more timpani pieces really turns me on. I also wish he would give us a yes the next time we ask him to enter a contest. It’s really amazing to see someone as young as him playing a huge instrument like the marimba which is why I hope his performances will inspire a lot of people especially young musicians and percussionists.