Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Here it is! APO Hiking Society's songs brought to the stage with Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!


The APO Hiking Society joins Sugarfree, Aegis, Francis Magalona, and yes, even that most iconic 90’s Pinoy band as some of the local acts whose vast music catalog has contributed to the recent boom of the Filipino jukebox musical.

Mark Bautista

Long overdue, the music of the APO will be now heard on stage with Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!, the first ever new material presentation of Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical happening this August 3-26, 2018 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Rita Daniela

Formed in 1969 and retired as a group in 2010, the APO Hiking Society, made up of Danny Javier, and Jim Paredes, and Boboy Garrovillo, is considered as one of the pioneers in the Philippine music industry releasing records back in the 1970’s that used the local language and had Filipino sensibilities. Prior to that, records released by local artists were heavily influenced by Western music. So with APO’s undeniable contribution to the Philippine music history in their illustrious four decade career, it’s about time for their songs to be given new life on the theater stage.

Jobim Javier and Sab Jose

And the wheels for this new musical were set into motion by Robbie Guevara, librettist and director of Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! and a proud fan of the APO. Guevara recalls that the seeds for this production was planted through Garrovillo, who suggested creating a musical using their songs while the two worked together in Grease back in 2013. And when it came to the point when Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical were ready to mount their first ever original Filipino musical after a string of hits with licensed shows like Green Day's American Idiot, A Christmas Carol, and Disney's Newsies, this baby of Guevara was already past the conception stage.

Jon Philippe Go

The musical, very loosely based on the origins of the APO, follows a group of seven college friends during the 1970’s working on to win a songwriting and singing competition. Along the way, they experience the ups and downs of life, falling in and out of love, all in the midst of the harsh reality of that time which is the Martial Law.

Alfritz Blanche and Marika Sasaki

Leading the cast is Mark Bautista, who has already a handful of musicals in his belt, most notably Here Lies Love that was staged at the West End and at the Seattle Repertory. The rest of the septet are Jon Philippe Go, Jobim Javier, Alfritz Blanche, Jef Flores, Jon Abella, and Vyen Villanueva. Joining them as the people in their lives are Rita Daniela, Marika Sasaki, Sab Jose, Raul Montesa and Neomi Gonzales. Gian Gloria, Shalee, Peachy Atilano-Guevara, Anton Posadas, Jourdan Bartolome, and Derrick Gozos complete the cast.

The cast of Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!

Eto Na! Musikal nAPO! is a brand new musical featuring the music is of Danny Javier, Jim Paredes, and Boboy Garrovillo with musical arrangement and orchestration by Daniel Bartolome and Orly dela Cruz. The creative team is led by librettist and director Robbie Guevara, along with Jonjon Martin as dramaturg, Dingdong Rosales as assistant director, Daniel Bartolome as musical director, PJ Rebullida as choreographer, Shakira Villa Symes as lighting designer, Joey Mendoza as set designer, Eric Pineda as costume designer, Dong Calingacion as technical director, Rards Corpus as sound designer Myrene Santos as hair and makeup designer, Ronan Ferrer as vocal supervisor, and Cathy Azanza-Dy as stage coach.

Mark Bautista

The musical runs from August 3-26 at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, located at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig with evening performances at 8:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and matinee performances at 3:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

Monday, July 02, 2018

16 year old Gregory Cheong wins 4th Steinway Youth Piano Competition

Athena Justina Elizaga, Gregory Cheong,
and Selina Lim Go

Showing his mastery of the keyboard, 16 year old Gregory Cheong emerged as the Grand Champion at the recently concluded 4th Steinway Youth Piano Competition held recently at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza.

Cheong’s win makes him the Philippines’ representative at the Regional competition in Taiwan. The winner of the Regionals will then represent South East Asia at the International Steinway Festival in Hamburg, Germany. His win also serves as a back to back victory for his teacher Chit Arambulo, who also taught Hansel Ang, the winner back in 2016.

Performing pieces by Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin, Cheong showed precision, clarity, fluidity and command that made him come out on top. I wasn’t able to catch the morning sessions so I couldn’t comment on how the competition was for Categories 1 and 2.

The 4th Steinway Youth Piano Competition saw a total of 16 young pianists, split into three categories according to age, competing for the top prize. Benjamin Loh from Singapore, Albert Tiu from the Philippines, and Dr. Eleanor Wong from Hong Kong served as the adjudicators.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Overall Champion – Gregory Cheong (Category 3)

Category 1
Champion – Selina Lim Go
1st Runner Up – Angelmay Tsai
2nd Runner Up – William Matthew Lim

Category 2
Champion – Athena Justina Elizaga
1st Runner Up – Nathan Lim Go
2nd Runner Up – Catherine Wang Li

Category 3
Champion – Gregory Cheong
1st Runner Up – Irene Jaemin Lee
2nd Runner Up – Andrea Verzosa

imagin.Asia Winner – Sophia Sumulong (Category 2)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Breakdancing to Bach


Like what I’ve said before, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach has been my weakness and I’ve never really warmed up to his music compared to say, works from the early 20th century to give an example. But recently, I’ve been challenging myself to dig into things that I've avoided before including Bach's works. So far, I’ve surprised myself for the unusual ways that I’ve employed to further appreciate Bach and his music. The last time, it was through Glenn Gould and a graphic novel about him. This time, it’s through a breakdancing group dancing to the music of Bach.


I stumbled upon the documentary Footwork & Fugues/Footwork und Fugen (2011), directed by Jochen Schmoll and Sebastian Tischler, through theEuroArts channel in YouTube. The documentary focuses on the breakdancing group the Flying Steps and opera director Christoph Hagel working on a very unusual collaboration: the Flying Bach project. In this project, the Flying Steps dancers Benny Kimoto, Brahim Zaibat, Gengis Ademoski aka Lil Ceng, Khaled Chaabi aka KC-1, Michael Rosemann aka Mikel, Niranh Chanthabouasy aka Lil Rock, and Vartan Bassil along with Yui Kawaguchi create a new dance routine set to the music of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier Part I. Hagel believes that Bach’s music can be brought to the streets while Flying Steps choreographer Bassil believes that breakdancing deserve to be regarded as a legit art form and can be brought to a bigger stage.

A huge gamble trying to combine these two very unlikely styles together pay off big as the project takes off immediately after its premiere. The Flying Bach literally sends the dancers flying all over the world bringing breakdancing and Bach’s music to a new light. It is amazing to see the dancers’ performance received warmly at the Bach festival in Leipzig which is the composer’s hometown.



The only thing that was missing after watching the documentary was seeing the Flying Bach in its entirety. The show is still being toured so there is still hope that it might reach the Philippines soon. The nearest they’ve gotten so far was in Singapore back in early 2014.

All of this breakdancing talk is taking my focus away from Bach and might draw me away from the keyboard and lure me instead into the dance floor!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Asia Region Suzuki Conference presents concert series at BGC Arts Center


Hundreds of young Suzuki method practitioners, parents and teachers converge here in Manila as the Philippine Suzuki Association hosts the 7th Asia Region Suzuki Conference with the theme Art to Heart this July 1-5, 2018 at the Treston International College, Bonifacio Global City.

For almost a week, young children playing the violin, piano, cello, and guitar under the Suzuki method from the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand get to take part in group, orchestra, enrichment classes and masterclasses under international teachers, perform together in mini recitals, and watch the performances at the series of concerts lined up during the conference.

Good thing that these concerts, happening on July 2-4, 2018 at Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Bonifacio Global City, are not just for the conference participants but also for the general public as well. And at a very affordable price to boot. For three straight nights, music lovers can enjoy music from chamber groups, young and upcoming artists, and a handful of established concert artists who owe much of their success to the Suzuki method.


On July 2, chamber groups such as Expression Music Ensemble from Brunei Darussalam, GMS Piano Ensemble, Panagsagan Duo, Paraluman, STAR Suzuki Strings, and TTEA Violin Group from Taiwan open the series of performances at the Ensemble Concert.


On July 3, promising young musicians namely Hansel Ang, Paulina Araña, Heidi Cahyadi, Gregory Cheong, Yu-Chia Chiu, Gabriel Domagas, Adrian Ong, Micah Pecson, Jannina Peña, EJ Villarin, and Shi-Xuan Yang take to the stage at the Young Artists Concert. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Herminigildo Ranera will accompany the young artists at the concert.


On July 4, established concert artists namely violinist Regina Buenaventura, guitarist Ramoncito Carpio, cellist Victor Coo, and pianist Oliver Salonga headline the Artists Concert wrapping up the series.

The concerts start at 7:00 PM and tickets to each concert are priced at P500. For inquiries, call (0966) 468-7894.
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