Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Manila Symphony Orchestra rings in 2018 with epic season finale

The Manila Symphony Orchestra brings their Leadership & Creativity season to an epic close with a performance of Carl Orff’s masterpiece Carmina Burana this January 20, 2018, 8:00 PM at The Theatre at Solaire.

The MSO, to be conducted by Prof. Arturo Molina, will be joined by soprano Rachelle Gerodias-Park, baritone Byeong-In Park, tenor Nomher Nival, Coro Tomasino, and Viva Voce for the performance of Carmina Burana.

Making its world premiere on this night is Alejandro Consolacion II’s Dekada ’70 A Rhapsodic Suite for Orchestra which is in line with the orchestra’s aim to enrich the Philippine orchestral music literature by commissioning works from Filipino composers.

The MSO gave a sampler of Carmina Burana years ago featuring soprano Elainne Marie Vibal, baritone Noel Azcona and Viva Voce through a recording made for the Ortigas Foundation. Note that there was no tenor listed since only some parts, and none with the tenor, was recorded.

While very brief, the tenor part in this piece is extremely demanding and gives no opportunity for him to warm up at all. I do think that Nomher Nival is one tenor who is up to this formidable task.

Carmina Burana, especially the O Fortuna part is one of the most recognizable pieces of music out there as it had been used in movies, television, commercials and just recently as the music for Michael Christian Martinez’s short program for this season in his unsuccessful bid to return to the Winter Olympics.

I do recommend that people head on to The Solaire and hear Carmina Burana in its entirety and make this epic piece of music set the pace for an equally epic 2018.

Manila Symphony Orchestra Concert Season 2017-2018
Leadership & Creativity Season Finale
January 20, 2018, 8:00 PM | The Theatre at Solaire

Rachelle Gerodias-Park, soprano
Byeong-In Park, baritone
Nomher Nival, tenor
Coro Tomasino
Viva Voce
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

Alejandro Consolacion II
     Dekada '70 A Rhapsodic Suite for Orchestra
Carl Orff
     Carmina Burana

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ricson Poonin's trombone leads PPO's 2018 opener

Nothing says that everything is back to normal after the holiday break more than being at my regular seat watching the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra as their 35th concert season resumes this January 19, 2018, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

Back with the PPO after studying at the Hopkins Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, Ricson Poonin and his trombone will be on the spotlight performing Ferdinand David’s Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra, Op. 4. Other pieces to be performed on that night include Manuel P. Maramba OSB’s Symphony Ode “La Naval” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique".

My unfamiliarity with the Maramba and David pieces will have me browsing through the program notes while waiting for the concert to start. It is uncertain if Associate Conductor Herminigildo Ranera, who will lead the orchestra on this night, will have one of his pre-concert lectures that could be a great source of information and background for these rarely performed pieces.

On the other hand, the deeply personal Tchaikovsky piece is very familiar to me and I am gearing myself for the upcoming performance of this by listening to the composer’s entire 6 symphony cycle. Whether this self-induced Tchaikovsky symphony overload makes me a more pleasant or unpleasant person to interact with remains to be seen. Either way, owing to the somber end to the Tchaik 6, I expect Ranera to prepare a suitable encore to ensure that the audience will leave the CCP in high spirits.

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra 35th Concert Season 2017-2018
Romancing the Classics Concert V
January 19, 2018, 8:00 PM | Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Ricson Poonin, trombone
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Herminigildo Ranera, conductor

Manuel P. Maramba OSB
     Symphony Ode “La Naval”
Ferdinand David
     Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra, Op. 4
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
     Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, "Pathétique"

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Czech film gems begin monthly screenings at the FDCP Cinematheque

Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr.

More than 20 years since it was first released, the award winning film Kolya has not lost any of its charm as the film (as well as the title character) captivated a jam packed FDCP Cinematheque Centre Manila during the opening night of the Czech Movie Gems, a yearlong celebration of Czech cinema presented by the Czech Embassy Manila and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

Kolya, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997 and also 6 Czech Lion Awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing), is the first of the Czech films to be screened at the FDCP Cinematheque Centre Manila at every 2nd Wednesday of the month throughout the year until January 2019.

Czech Amb. Jaroslav Olša, Jr. taking a photo of FDCP Chair Liza Diño

Guests from the diplomatic corps, members of the press, film buffs, and students came in droves filling the theater to the brim that delighted FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño who was ecstatic with the turnout for the first event at the FDCP this 2018.

The selection of films to be screened in the following months was personally chosen by Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr. himself which is a diverse mix dating from the 1960’s up to the present decade with genres ranging from the usual critical and commercial hits to oddball stuff like science fiction and even Communist propaganda.

Argentine Embassy’s Corina Sarli, Korean Cultural Center Director Lee Jincheol,
Czech Amb. Jaroslav Olša, Jr., FDCP Chair Liza Diño, French Amb. Nicolas Galey,
Hungarian Amb. József Bencze, Czech Embassy’s Jana Peterková,
and Hungarian Embassy’s David Ambrus


On the surface, Kolya/Kolja is a heartwarming story of two unlikely strangers: Louka (Zdenek Sverák) a 55 year old down on his luck cellist and Kolya (Andrej Chalimon), a 5 year old Russian boy who is suddenly left at his care when his sham marriage to the boy’s mother (also from Russia) falls into pieces. As expected, the odd pair brought together by the most unusual of circumstances had to go through numerous hurdles (a 50 year age gap, a language barrier, a police investigation, etc.) but eventually, the two bond and become almost inseparable just in time for the bittersweet end to the film.

This plot and its numerous deviations have been told countless times, but what gives Kolya an added layer is its setting during the late 1980’s right smack in the burgeoning Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of communism in then Czechoslovakia. With this historical context in mind, and noting that the film was originally released less than a decade after the Velvet Revolution and only just a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union, how I saw the film changed. Louka, the sleazy, scheming, older Czech and Kolya, the innocent Russian boy as unlikely strangers forming a strong bond in the end took on a new meaning.

This got my head wondering if Louka’s sham marriage to Nadezda (Irina Bezrukova) stood in for something else regarding the Czech and Soviet relations at the time. What struck me also was the recurring bird/flight motifs and imagery throughout the film like Kolya’s fascination with the pigeons in Louka’s apartment window, Kolya looking at the clouds from a plane window, and also the possible explanation that a bird was responsible for the odd trinket found in the gutter. These may be just birds on the surface but my hunch says that they truly meant something more. If only the film's director, Jan Svěrák, and his father Zdenek Sverák, (yup, the same guy who played Louka) who wrote the screenplay, were present at the opening night to answer all of my questions.

The film Kolya is one very fine example of how a work of art not only documents what was happening back then but also serves as a reflection of the mood and sentiments that was prevalent during the time of its creation.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Music in total darkness with German tuba and piano duo

The flashy fireworks welcoming 2018 have died down and it's time to turn off the lights and experience music in total darkness as the Goethe-Institut Philippinen brings back Concert in the Dark. Happening this January 17, 2018, 7:00 PM at the Aldaba Reictal Hall (UP Theater Complex), University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, this edition features tuba player Andreas Martin Hofmeir and pianist Barbara Schmelz. Admission to the concert is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tuba player Andreas Martin Hofmeir is a professor at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg and the founder of the popular Bavarian band LaBrassBanda. He is also multiple award-winning cabaret performer and has won the Città di Porcia International Tuba Competition in 2004. He has played with the Bruckner-Orchester Linz under Dennis Russell Davies until 2008.

Hailing from the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg and the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen, organist Barbara Schmelz heads the concert series Musktage Waging and works as regional cantor in the church music department of the Diocese of Passau. Her broad musical spectrum ranges from concertante and liturgical organ playing to singing, choir and ensemble conducting to improvisation, whereby the connection of music and liturgy plays an emphasized role.

The duo of Andreas Martin Hofmeir and Barbara Schmelz will perform a program billed as European Journey that includes music by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Richard Wagner.

The first ever Concert in the Dark performance that featured violinist Mirijam Contzen held at Fort Santiago in Intramuros back in September 2015 was a phenomenal success that she put up an additional performance due to the huge number of people who turned up for the event.

Concert in the Dark is part of a series of musical engagements organized by the Goethe-Institut in Southeast Asia called anders hören or “listen differently”. This annual offering is meant to introduce the audiences in the region to not-so-common forms of appreciating music.
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