Musical Happenings (January)

Despite the throng of academic work and hectic schedule, my participation in musical events and activities hardly ceased. Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to, musically. Benefit from this news if you will.

Tatlo

taken from Manila iLounge

a poster of Tatlo

Cultural Center of the Philippines. January 8 – Three of Asia’s finest choral groups came together for a night to celebrate music and culture. Tatlo is Filipino for “Three,” the title of the series held around Asia, which was concluded that Saturday. The mission of Three is to find unity through music despite the multiplicity and diversity of race and tradition. Three groups from different musical experiences and histories charmed us with their rich repertoires.

SYC Ensemble Singers

Singapore-based SYC Ensemble Singers came first, under Jennifer Tham. Notably, they performed Hermana Lluvia, a number involving eurythmics–the usage of various body parts to express a musical arrangement. A flowing river was synthesized by deliberate lisps, along with snapping, clucking, and foot-stomping. A forest came alive on-stage. I had never heard anything like it. (Official website: http://www.syc.org.sg/)

Gaia Philharmonic Choir

Japan’s Gaia Philharmonic Choir, led by conductor-composer Ko Matsushita performed next. Their songs were Matsushita’s compositions, riddled with emotional depth and scope. His thematically-charged arrangements gained him my respect. From the polyphonies in pianissimo to the sustained chordal episodes encompassing the soundscape, Ko has proven himself to be a master at arranging and handling the choir. (Official website: http://www.gaia2001.com/)

Ateneo Chamber Singers

Third to perform were the Ateneo Chamber Singers. Their song choices were priceless. They began with Memorare, whose arrangement brought to mind Ryan Cayabyab’s Kyrie album, with the minor-oriented intervals and general atmosphere. Next came The Answer, written by Trina Pamintuan and arranged by John Agustin Pamintuan. I admire the song for its honesty and the fidelity the Chamber Singers performed it with. I picked out some of the lyrics, “Ever searching for an answer… so far and wide.” It’s a song of asking and wandering, which the ACS expressively conveyed through passionate dynamics and lyrical blending. I also distinctly remember Awit ni Solomon for its employment of ambiguous and nascent harmonies and for dabbling between song and vocal noise. Akin to Lux Aeterna, it involves chaotic and psuedo-demonic sounds, with its chromatic pitfalls and spirals. (Official website: http://ateneochambersingers.ph/)

Aptly, the event was concluded with the three choirs combined, performing Cayabyab’s and Eleria’s Better World as their encore. The “super-choir” displayed their prowess through unity, consonant to the song’s message and Three‘s ultimate goal.

Spotlight Productions

the spotlight prod banner/poster

Route 196, Katipunan Extension. January 12 – Spotlight Productions held a gig called Teenage Dream, featuring bands Novus Luna, Layag Maya’s Anklet, Sum3, Jaycie & Honey, Reese & Vica and my own Leonecast. If it isn’t obvious yet, the Philippine music industry is down, with prominent bands splitting here and there. The disappearance of NU107 from the airwaves is representative of the local scene: struggling beneath the fog, but very much alive. All is not lost. Adapting to the lack of mainstream exposure and demand, groups or prods have been assembled to keep the underground rock/indie scene kicking. One of them is Spotlight Productions, under the leadership of Ansyl Cadag Yap and RG Salazar. Joining prods are the way to go for fresh and established bands alike. The gigs are there for audiences to find out about the freshest acts and for musicians to widen their circle. The ideal here is to re-infect people with the love for local music. Fact: OPM is not accurately portrayed by the media (as tacky, for novelty, etc.). Get around and realize how diverse and talented our musicians and bands are. At this point, there is much work to be done for our voices to be heard out loud. If radio can’t do it, the people can. If television won’t do it, the people will. NU107 never died. She simply changed form and now lives in each person who believes in our music. Let’s keep it coming.

View Spotlight Productions’ Facebook page.

The Ateneo College Glee Club

going strong on their 90th year

Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila Campus. January 15 – The Ateneo College Glee Club (ACGC) held a concert–the first of a series of three, called Gloria! In eXCelsis Deo. Segmented by the speeches of ACGC alumi and the chorale’s performances, it was a tribute of religious faith. The opening number In Faag impressed me the most. The concert didn’t begin routinely, with the choir standing in rows and layers on the stage. In dimly lit blue lights, they assembled themselves in a line behind the audience and along the horizontal isle midway to the platform. The preceding silence was steadily snipped away by the stabs of each voice answering one other in sustained shouts and chants. The internal architecture of the church is that of the inside of a pyramid with a serrated texture. The blocking of the choir effected the utilization of its acoustics and reverberation, giving the impression that the opener was a cult ritual. For what it’s worth, the execution was superb. The blending of voices, lights and shadows, smoke and atmosphere gave me goosebumps. Carmelino Alvendia, Jr. was one of the speakers for the night. The title of his speech was Pag-Usbong (Filipino for “growth” or “progress”) and he spoke of how Philosophy was a subject that disturbed him and his batch mates back in their college days, as they were peeled into social awareness. He narrated how, because of his social “awakening,” he reached out to help the poor, the hungry and the needy–and of how that was his means for growth. Some of the other songs performed were Pater Noster, Virga Jesse Floruit and Light of a Million Mornings. I got myself a copy of Tagumpay Nating Lahat after the concert. In case you didn’t know, they’re a world-class performing group. Gunning for cultural uplifting? ACGC is an excellent start.

Catch their upcoming shows (before they leave for their Europe Tour):

  1. A Grand Night of Singing: February 5 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines
  2. In eXCelsis Virtus: March 5 at the PhilAm Life Auditorium

Visit their Facebook page.

My sincere apologies for the growing gaps between posts. I will be posting more often, although length will be compromised (it doesn’t apply here). But the things you will be reading here will be worth your time, so worry not. Later!

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