Today, we had the pleasure and the honour of meeting with Mr Rufino Soliano, the music maestro, best known as the conductor of the then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra. He comes from the musical family, many of whom have been and are continuing to play music.
Mr Soliano is recovering from a recent operation but they – Mr Soliano, his wife Shirley and daughter Kathleen – warmly welcome us at Kathleen’s home. We are working on a project documenting Singapore musicians and the visit was a fact finding trip of sorts. But the hour and a half meeting was more like a get-together of long lost friends, as the Solianos chatted openly about the patriarch’s illustrious career that spanned more than 60 years.
Mr Soliano’s eyes lit up every time we talked music. He told us of the time he played for Sammy Davis Junior way back when, the days of playing for shows on RTS and SBC, working with performers like Anita Sarawak and Rahimah Rahim and many many more. He even gave us tips on what to look for if we want to buy a bongo.
He even entertained us by playing the bongo along to tracks of his debut album, Endlessly. Like his daughter Kathleen said, :”Listening to him play, one’d think its a young chap. But little do they know it’s a keropok!” Indeed, Mr Soliano came alive when he played. His slender but wrinkled fingers dancing off the hide to the music. We were transported to another place altogether.
Although Mr Soliano has had a long career, he only released his debut album last year. It was a project that help lifted him out of depression, for music was his passion, his life. Titled Endlessly, the album includes 12 of his compositions, some of which have been played at Ms Universe pageants. Most of the tunes were inspired by his children and grandchildren.
Those interested to get his album, which includes a small booklet that tells the story of Mr Soliano, can do so by contacting Mr Soliano (through his daughter Kathleen) at latinorufino [at] gmail [dot] com or through his Facebook page.
Incidentally, today Mr Soliano is celebrating his 82nd birthday. Many happy returns Mr Soliano!