Monday, October 31, 2011

CCP companies to perform for a fundraiser

Ballet Philippines

November 3, 2011, 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Ballet Philippines
Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company
National Music Competition for Young Artists
Philippine Ballet Theater
Philippine Madrigal Singers
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group
Tanghalang Pilipino
UST Symphony Orchestra

In all my years of watching shows at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I’ve yet to see one that showcased all nine flagship performing companies. The nine companies are the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Philippine Madrigal Singers, Philippine Ballet Theater, UST Symphony Orchestra, National Music Competition for Young Artists and the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. I’ve been to some shows where some performed but not all nine. The closest thing that I’ve gotten to see them under one building was when the media was toured around the CCP building during the height of the Mideo Cruz exhibit controversy which is now largely forgotten and replaced by other controversies. And still, all nine weren’t present back then. But now, I’m finally getting my chance to see these nine perform their best works in a fundraising gala on November 3, 2011 at 8:00 PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater). This rare dance and musical revue aims to raise funds for the CCP’s arts education and audience development program.

Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company
Philippine Madrigal Singers

I will be very interested to see how this will go since the delegates of the Federation for Asian Cultural Promotion Conference will be watching the CCP Gala concert. It will be the chance of the CCP and the nine resident companies to see what they are capable of to a broader audience who are informed about the arts.

Tanghalang Pilipino
National Music Competition for Young Artists

Aside from the performances, the CCP Gala will serve as the launch to the Membership Program seeking to encourage and solicit the support of individuals and corporations, for them to fund programs that will bring the shows outside of the CCP and to more people like public schools and underserved communities. The fund will also be used in arts education which is very much neglected in our school system especially in public schools. During the media tour back then, members of the companies already stressed the importance of the support from private individuals and corporations and that the government funding that they receive is not enough to cover the costs of their productions and operations.

Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group
UST Symphony Orchestra

Those who will avail of the Membership Program will have access to an array of exclusive privileges such as discounts, invitations to special events, access to working rehearsals and more. One can be part of the CCP Membership Program for as low as P1,000.00. Call 832-1125 loc. 1800 and 1808 or e-mail for more information.

Philippine Ballet Theater
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pampanga Lanterns to adorn CCP façade

Christmas is indeed approaching fast and before you know it, houses, buildings and streets will be adorned with various decorations celebrating the season. And at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, lanterns from the City of San Fernando, Pampanga will adorn its façade which will be unveiled at the SULÛ: The Lanterns of San Fernando, Pampanga to be held on November 3, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the CCP Front Lawn and Ramp. This ceremonial lighting event is held in cooperation with the City of San Fernando, Pampanga through Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

The specially designed lanterns known for its ingenius craftsmanship and technology employ the intricate circuitry of the Pampanga Lanterns. These lanterns will be lit until January 8, 2012. Highlights for the evening would be the performances of the Magsilbi Tamu Band and the San Fernando Choir from Pampanga.

This event will happen right before the CCP Gala concert that is also a fundraising event which will be seen by the delegates of the 29th Federation for Asian Cultural Promotion Annual Conference. So they will see these lanterns already lit up when they go there and watch the concert at the CCP.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Greenilda battles the Litterbugs at the Halloween Family Concert at the CCP

October 30, 2011 4:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Metro Manila Concert Orchestra
Josefino “ChinoToledo, conductor

Children may not be able to fully appreciate the subscription series concerts by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Manila Symphony Orchestra especially with pieces lasting around 40 minutes and up. But every Halloween for the past five years, the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra under the baton of Josefino “ChinoToledo has always prepared a special concert made especially for children of all ages at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The concert entitled Greenilda Versus the Litterbugs happening this October 30, 2011 at 4:00 PM at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) also aims to introduce the symphony orchestra and its music to children in a fun way.

And the fun happens even before the concert begins with the pre-concert activities like the musical petting zoo wherein the children can have the experience to play different orchestral instruments assisted by the members of the MMCO. And it cannot be Halloween without Trick or Treats which happens at the Little Theater and Main Theater Lobbies starting at 2:30 PM. The children are encouraged to come in their costumes to fully feel the Halloween experience when they watch and enjoy Greenilda from the Green Planet as she wipes out the Litterbugs in the Halloween Family Concert at the CCP. The concert is presented by CCP and the MMCO, and sponsored by Alveo Land.

*photos taken from last year’s concert Wizards, Witches and Wacky Wands

Ticket prices:
P800 Orchestra
P500 Balcony I
P6,000 Parterre Box
P5,000 Lower Box
P3,000 Upper Box
50% student discount
20% senior citizen, government and military employee discount

For inquiries:
CCP Music Division 832-1125 loc. 1604/1605
CCP Box Office 832-3704, 832-3706
TicketWorld 891-9999

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Christmas comes early courtesy of Libera

Libera and the Children's Hour beneficiaries unveil the plaque

The Christmas season here in the Philippines unofficially starts once September arrives (blame it on the -ber). Some people complain that it’s too early to start celebrating. But there’s absolutely no reason to complain as Filipinos receive early Christmas presents this year as world renowned boys choir Libera visits the country once again for a two city concert tour in conjunction with the release of their Christmas Album. The album released by EMI Classics through Polyeast Records is also keeping with the early theme since it was first released here in the Philippines compared to the rest of the world.

For their Christmas Concert tour, Libera performed last October 25, 2011 at the PICC Plenary Hall and they have already flown to Cebu for their October 28, 2011 concert to be held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Prior to these concert dates, Libera also had some autograph signing sessions at SM City North EDSA and SM City Cebu.

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, part of the proceeds from these concerts will go to the Children’s Hour, a fundraising, friends-raising and fund-giving organization that aims to provide disadvantaged Filipino children better access to quality education, quality health and nutrition and a quality way of life. Children’s Hour Executive Director Evangeline Mayuga and several kids who are beneficiaries of the organization were present during the press conference held at the AIM Conference Center as the Libera Playground was formally launched. Also present during the event were Robert de Ocampo, chairman of the British Alumni Association and British Ambassador Stephen Lillie who were on hand to donate a check to the Children’s Hour worth P150,000. A special plaque to be placed in the playground to be built in a village in Calauan Laguna was also unveiled on that day to the delight of both the boys from Libera and the kids from the Children’s Hour.

Evangeline Mayuga, Bienvenido Tan, Roberto de Ocampo,
Steffan Leadbeater and Ambassador Stephen Lillie

Then I was reminded once again as to how Libera managed to capture the hearts of Filipinos as a clip of their 2009 concert featuring their encore, a truly memorable rendition of Bayan Ko was shown. I’ve watched a clip of this online yet I still got goosebumps when I saw it again. I probably felt that way because I was seated right beside and behind some members of Libera and it was interesting to see their reaction watching them watch themselves on the projector screen.

Once the formalities were over and the photo ops were done, the rest of the boys went to rehearsals while Kavana Crossley, Ralph Skan, Liam Connery, Cassius O’Connell-White and Michael Ustynovych-Repa stayed to answer questions from the press. They said that being able to travel and perform was among the best part of being a member of Libera as well as being able to make a difference in other people’s lives. And they were all in unison (expect for Michael who was stumped by the question but still came off as extremely cute and charming) saying that Filipinos are a happy people who are always happy to see them when asked what they will first tell people back in London about their experience here in the country.

Libera with the Children's Hour beneficiaries

While the opportunity to ask the members of Libera some questions came towards the end of the event, during the beginning it was the other way around. I found myself seated right beside Ralph Skan, one of the soloists at the choir, and it was he who asked me some questions. He asked me if they were popular in here and I answered that their Bayan Ko made them more popular in here. And he also told me that he had a great time during their meet and greet session over at the SM North EDSA.

I’ve also had the chance to listen to The Christmas Album and my favorite tracks are Corpus Christi Carol and Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) which are two songs that I’m very familiar with due to earlier recordings by Jeff Buckley and Billy Joel. But having Libera sing them had a more chilling and haunting effect and I do get misty eyed whenever I listen to their Lullabye which didn’t happen at all when I listened to those recorded by Billy Joel and Natasha Pearce.

It was indeed an early Christmas not just for fans of Libera but also for the kids of the Children’s Hour. I’ve always believed that music has the power to uplift, inspire and change lives for the better and Libera is a testament to that.

The Christmas Album

1. Joy to the World
2. Still, Still, Still
3. Carol of the Bells
4. Veni, Veni Emmanuel
5. Once in Royal David’s City
6. O Holy Night
7. White Christmas
8. Corpus Christi Carol
9. In Dulci Jubilo
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
11. Sing the Story
12. Coventry Carol
13. The First Nowell
14. Jubilate Deo
15. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
16. Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)

Sponge Cola Blogger’s Night

Ted, Gosh, Yael and Armo of Sponge Cola

After the tremendous success of their Tambay EP which reached the very elusive Diamond Record status through Coca-Cola’s summer promo and only the second band to do so after the Eraserheads, vocalist Yael Yuzon, lead guitarist Erwin Armovit, bassist Gosh Dilay and new permanent drummer Tedmark Cruz collectively known as Sponge Cola releases its fourth length album entitled Araw Oras Tagpuan under Universal Records.

I admit that I wasn’t crazy about the band when I first heard their cover of Madonna’s Crazy For You. But when I heard more of their original material via their previous releases Palabas, Transit and Sponge Cola, my initial impression was shattered and it was replaced with amusement and fondness for the band instead.

Currently enjoying the success of their latest single and video Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay, Sponge Cola held a Blogger’s Night at the Universal Records office in cooperation with Pinoy Magazine, BANDS Magazine and official online partner Orange Magazine TV.

Even before the proceedings started, Yael joined the early bloggers as they had their dinner. And right then and there, he socialized in a funny, accommodating and enthusiastic manner without any airs. I thought to myself that this is one rocker who doesn’t beat classical music geeks like me  which is what I like to say whenever I become intimidated by rockers.

And his jovial nature continued on during the actual Q & A portion of the event wherein he was joined in by the rest of the band. The loquacious Yael continuously tapped his fingers while spouting crazy ideas like wanting the band to be known as “the Nicholas Sparks of OPM” and yet confusing which novels were actually his. And while he also yearned to experiment more with the band like collaborating with Lea Salonga and aiming for a Broadway showtune sound, he went further out of the box when he also suggested his desire to play while frying an egg on stage.

Of course, the band talked a lot about the album Araw Oras Tagpuan and although while it sounds trite, the band said that the album was inspired by life. With the exception of She Weeps, a song that Yael wrote when he was still a teenager, the rest of the tracks were written based on how they are doing right now, picking up what they’ve been seeing as they go on with their lives. And it seems that they’ve been having the time with their lives with fun tracks like Tambay, Ok Dito and Warning which is a throwback to the Manila Sound with its distinct vibrato which some kids may find very amusing. And I won’t be talking about the hidden track since it is best heard or else I spoil the element of surprise which I think I already did.

As an added treat for everybody present, the band performed a short set which included the songs Regal, Tambay, Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay and Jeepney preceded by some measures of Kapag Tumibok ang Puso. Yael noted that it’s been a while since they performed in such an intimate setup (two guitars and the occasional tambourine) that he didn’t require a microphone to amplify his voice. And true to his nature, he said that he felt that it was a relaxed atmosphere and that he felt like lounging to the point that he almost put one of his legs on the table.

Araw Oras Tagpuan

1. Tambay
2. Stargazer
3. Regal
4. Ok Dito
5. She Weeps
6. Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay
7. She Wants You To
8. Walang Wakas
9. New Steel
10. Warning:
11. Scenic View
12. Araw Oras Tagpuan

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now Experience Part 1

The Press Conference

Ever since my very memorable Italian National Day Event experience, I’ve been bumping into some people from the Embassy of Italy and the Philippine-Italian Association during concerts and at the openings of various film festivals. And it was during one of these film festivals when I was told that there would be the Italian Film Festival happening this November. I’ve read about it before months ago at the schedule of events and celebrations in line with the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy and I thought that it would be similar to the other film festivals like the French Film Festival, Eiga Sai, Silent Film Festival, Cine Europa or the previous editions of the Italian Film Fest. But I was mistaken since it will not be like the film festivals that I’ve just mentioned. It’s actually going to be bigger.

First of all, it’s now called Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now which is going to be held this November 9-13 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas 3, 4 and 5. This festival is co-organized by the Asiatica Film Mediale (organizers of the most important Asian Film Festival in Italy) and Playtown (organizers of the Film Festival in Rome) and the inclusion of these organizers confirmed that it’s really going to be bigger. And reading the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Rustan’s and the Peninsula Manila at the invite to the press conference just gave more weight to how grand this was going to be.

And the grandness starts with the scheduled appearance of Italian directors, actors and film industry personalities headed by horror director Dario Argento and his daughter, actress Asia Argento to the film festival. And during the press conference held at the Conservatory at the Peninsula Manila, no other than Senator Goffredo Bettini, President of the Rome Film Festival was present in order to inform those who were there that this festival aims to show what Italian cinema is all about not just only in Manila but in other Asian cities like Bangkok and New Dehli.

Ambassador Luca Fornari chatting with actor Albert Martinez

Obviously, the main draw of the festival has got to be the film screenings which will be free of charge. Contemporary Italian films, classic films by Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci as well as films by Filipino award winning director Brillante Mendoza are the ones that will be screened for five days. Another highlight are the two workshops that will be conducted by Dario Argento and film composer, Franco Piersanti. Other Italian film industry notables flying in for the event are actors Gianluca de Marchi, Ennio Fantastichini, Marta Gastini and Pietra Montecorvino, producers Carlo Macchitella, Camilla Nesbitt, Gianni Paolucci and Luciano Sovena, cinematographer Daniele Ciprì and directors Claudio Cupellini and Alice Rohrwacher. I would not be surprised to see more added to this list. Unfortunately, famed director Bernardo Bertolucci will not be attending the event despite some rumors of him arriving here.

Emanuela Adesini, Ambassador Luca Fornari, Briccio Santos, Cristina Morrica
and Senator Goffredo Bettini during the Q&A

These special guests will walk on the red carpet which will be headed by local actor Albert Martinez. So I expect that several local actors and film makers will also be present at the red carpet considering that Brillante Mendoza will have some of his films shown as a tribute to him. Not only that, but everyone will be able to do the same and strut their stuff at the red carpet since Moviemov aims to promote friendship between Italy and the Philippines through cinema.

The films that are to be shown are:

Italian Showcase:
Che bella giornata
Corpo celeste
Habemus Papam
Mine Vaganti   
Una vita tranquilla

Tribute to Bernardo Bertolucci:
Il conformista   
The Dreamers
L’ultimo imperatore
Ultimo tango a Parigi

Tribute to Dario Argento:
Show reel Dracula 3D
Profondo rosso

Tribute to Brillante Mendoza:

Personally, this event is poised to become one of the film events of the year. I’ve experienced several events organized by the Embassy of Italy and the Philippine-Italian Association and I’ve always been impressed by not only how well executed they were, but also by how fun and exciting they were as well. I’m really interested to attend the workshop by Franco Piersanti but the final schedule for that hasn’t been posted yet. As expected, I will continue to post more about this event when it finally happens. But now, I need to figure out what to wear at the opening night.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MSO IV: Facets of Romanticism

Rudolf Golez and the Manila Symphony Orchestra

Rudolf Golez, piano
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

Richard Strauss Waltz from Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59
Franz Liszt Hungarian Fantasy
Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

When it comes to orchestral music, an overwhelming majority of my favorite pieces come from the Romantic era. Some people might be overwhelmed by a whole concert featuring this kind of music but I welcome them in fact. And I couldn’t be happier that the Manila Symphony Orchestra presented Facets of Romanticism during the fourth concert of their current season celebrating the orchestra’s 85th anniversary. For this concert, the orchestra, along with their principal conductor/music director Arturo Molina was joined by pianist Rudolf Golez.

The evening started with the Waltz from Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59 by Richard Strauss which I think was an excellent way to set the mood for the evening. This piece was taken from the comic opera Der Rosenkavalier or The Knight of the Rose with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The opera premiered back in 1911 meaning that it’s been a century since this piece was first heard publicly. Back then, some felt that the waltz was already outdated to be included in the opera. But a hundred years later, this waltz has become a popular piece and the MSO performed it with such elegance and ease that it evoked an image of an opulent grand ballroom with dancers twirling around to the familiar one-two-three beat.

Then, Rudolf Golez took to the stage and joined the orchestra for the next piece which was Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasy. If the previous Strauss piece had a centenary significance, then this piece also had one as well, and make it a bicentenary at that. All around the world, pianists have been paying tribute to Franz Liszt’s 200th birth anniversary this year by playing his pieces a lot. Thankfully, Rudolf opted to play something else besides Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S.124 which I’ve already seen three times already this year. So I didn’t mind at all that he played a piece that was not familiar to me. But it wasn’t that hard to get into the piece since it was very accessible right from the introduction of the memorable march-like theme. And while the first piece was limited to the steady undulating rhythm of the waltz (but with the well placed rubato in some parts making it more expressive), this Liszt piece was freer in form and had some brilliant cadenzas that showcased Rudolf’s virtuosity. He displayed more of this during his encore which was another serving of Liszt with Rigoletto Paraphrase de Concert, S.434. As the audience clamored for more from him, he gave another encore and joked before playing that he would play something soft instead and he did exactly that with the very somber Liszt composition Consolation No. 3 in D flat major, S. 172.

But the main highlight of the evening for me has got to be Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98. As stated in the introduction in the programme, one cannot go wrong with a Brahms Symphony. And they did everything right since this is my current favorite among the four. And among the four movements, the second one is my favorite, beginning from the horn calls at the introduction ushering the main theme played by the clarinets to be repeated later by the horns and the strings. And the fourth, which was drawn from the Passacaglia form, is something that set this piece apart from other symphonies. An ancient musical form was used in a new way through a symphony which might’ve left its initial audience a bit stumped since this was a very new idea at that time.

The orchestra, while having a few stumbles with the horns (which has plagued local orchestras) and noticeably missing a few key members, was spot on all throughout the evening. And to cap the night, the orchestra played the crowd pleaser which was Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms again. I would’ve wished for them to play something else since I’ve just heard the USTSO play this for their encore during their last concert. And in an amusing turn, the MSO was forced to have another encore due to the urging of the audience but they didn’t have another piece prepared. So they turned full circle and played the Waltz from Der Rosenkavalier, the first piece of the evening once again.

There were three other events happening at the same time that evening: a play, a concert featuring a soprano and a ballet and yet the Philam Life Auditorium had a respectable sized audience that night. I know some who opted to go to the earlier matinee performance of the MSO and later went to one of the three shows. So it was a very eventful evening for the arts and culture scene and I hoped that the other people had a great time watching the others shows because I know that I did enjoy mine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PPO II: Musical Landscapes

Conductor Olivier Ochanine

Ariel Sta. Ana, clarinet
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Olivier Ochanine, conductor

Silverstre Revueltas Sensemayá
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622
Angel Peña Igorot Rhapsody
Ottorino Respighi Feste Romane

The epic evenings with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra went on a journey through various Musical Landscapes during the second concert of its 29th Season that was held at the Cultural Centerof the Philippines. For this concert, principal conductor and music director Olivier Ochanine chose very interesting and highly textured pieces in terms of timbre, color and rhythm. And the orchestra's principal clarinetist, Ariel Sta. Ana was featured as well as the soloist in one of the pieces. Despite having an opening of a play and a ballet happening at the same time and just within the CCP Complex, coupled with the finals week of many students, a respectable sized audience still managed to turn out for this concert. Only a few were on hand for the pre-concert lecture held at the lobby by associate conductor Herminigildo Ranera but right after that, more people started arriving.

The first piece of the evening was Sensemayá by Mexican Silvestre Revueltas. And the programme notes said that it was based on a poem about a ritual chant sung while killing a snake. But the music didn’t evoke any of that in me since I associate this piece more with the crime film Sin City which was based on the comicbook series of the same name. I first heard the piece in the film’s soundtrack, so instead of some snake getting killed, I thought of the Yellow Bastard (who is a character in the film) instead. I’ve been a huge comicbook fan for years and it was rather strange for me to realize that I heard this music first through a movie adaptation of a comicbook than a recording or a concert performance. I am not sure if anyone else in the audience felt the same way as I did when this piece was played. My only complaint was that I was seated right on the first row so I wasn’t able to see the various percussion instruments used in this piece. And it wouldn't be the last time that I would wish that I was seated somewhere else.

But I didn’t complain at all regarding my seat during the next piece which was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622 with Ariel Sta. Ana as the featured soloist. I’ve owned a clarinet for some years now yet I haven’t learned anything decent on the instrument at all. I was hoping that seeing the Sta. Ana perform this concerto would somehow inspire me to learn the instrument seriously. I had to admit that this piece was very different from the previous one that it almost seemed jarring. The Revueltas piece was rhythmically complicated while the Mozart piece was a prime example of the Classical era which was clean, structured and devoid of any surprises commonly found in latter eras. I really wanted to be inspired by this concerto but it only made me realize that it was already too late for me to be really good at the clarinet and play this piece in the future. Sta. Ana's fingers were deft and the breathing was effortless while mine is usually pathetic and laborious. Don’t get me wrong since I will not throw away my clarinet in frustration but I already admitted that I will never go far with the instrument. This realization will not in any way hinder my enjoyment of watching clarinet performances in the future. And I didn’t have to wait that long since Sta. Ana and the orchestra played Milonga del ángel by Argentinean Astor Piazzolla for an encore. This piece, a soft yet sultry tango, was more to my liking and more fitting to the evening’s theme than the Mozart piece.

After the interval, I was prepared to hear the opening passages of Feste Romane by Ottorino Respighi but I heard something else. For a moment, I panicked since I wondered if what I studied and listened to before in preparation for this evening was not really Feste Romane but one of the other two pieces from the Roman Trilogy. A quick look at the programme made me calm down since it was actually the Igorot Rhapsody by Angel Peña that was being played. I still don’t know how spaced out I was in order to forget that this was also included in the lineup all along. Nonetheless, it’s always amazing to hear a local composition with native tunes played by an orchestra. For the second time, I wished that I was seated somewhere else since I really wanted to see the percussionists since it was their instruments that gave the piece its native sound.

After this, I was absolutely sure that Feste Romane was going to be played next. And hearing the familiar opening with the trumpets blaring confirmed everything and all that's left for me to do was to me relax and savor the music and let the orchestra do the hard work. Just before the concert, I was told by a PPO violinist that this piece and also the Revueltas were the difficult ones for that night. I was only able to see the mandolin player partially and I wasn't able to see at all the organ, piano and other percussion instruments that were used in this piece. I feel that Feste Romane, evoking scenes from ancient Rome (a gladiator fight, a procession towards a church, a harvest and a drunken revelry) is pastoral music on steroids. Pastoral music and I don’t go well together but this music with more edge and bite to it appealed to me. The orchestra looked spent and tired after the piece and from where I was sitting, I could see sweat dripping from Ochanine. Jokingly, Ochanine said that the orchestra didn’t seem so tired yet which meant that they had some energy left for an encore. They played Huapango by Jose Pablo Moncayo who is also Mexican, just like Revueltas. In this piece, Ochanine was very animated and was almost dancing while conducting and it made me wonder why one music columnist keeps on calling him frail.

The concert had a very diverse and nationalistic program with tunes reflecting the various composers' countries of origin. So I felt that the Mozart clarinet concerto no matter how well it was played, was too bland compared to the rest of the pieces, including the encores. Still, some members of the audience might have felt the other way around, that it was only the Mozart piece that held their interest and that they weren't able to connect with the other pieces. As for me, whether I connect with the pieces or not, I always think that watching classical music concerts is an evening well spent. And I'm looking forward to more nights like this one.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ebe Dancel's Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig Album Launch

Ebe Dancel

By now, fans of the band Sugarfree know the story like the back of their hand. They met with great sorrow the news that lead singer Ebe Dancel would be leaving the band soon. They religiously went to the last remaining gigs of the band knowing that the end was near. And then it was over. The band Sugarfree is finished and yet Ebe Dancel’s desire to make music doesn’t go away easily. And the fans don’t walk away that easily as well as they gathered once more when Dancel’s debut album as a solo artist, Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig released by Warner Music Philippines, had its launch at the T.E.A.T.R.I.N.O. in Promenade, Greenhills.

The front section of the audience area was made into a standing room area reserved for the fans who were able to get in the venue by presenting a copy of the album. I did really sense the eagerness and the patience that these fans felt while waiting for the show to start. They’ve waited for months and they didn’t mind waiting a few minutes more. Opening the show was the band Never the Strangers who performed a short set. And despite their youth, they didn’t seem fazed to be kicking things off that night.


And then the moment arrived when Ebe Dancel finally took to the stage and started singing songs from his album. The evening really gave weight to his words saying that he is back and the people there welcomed him with a rousing reception all throughout the evening. Welcoming him back were special guests who joined him onstage like guitar heavyweights Kakoy Legaspi and Francis Brew Reyes. Sitti also shared the stage with Ebe as they did a duet of Wag Mo Na Munang Sabihin, which was a song he wrote for her solo album.

After each number, the bond between him and his faithful fans that seemed to have weakened after months of being away from the spotlight was reformed. And probably one of the most enthusiastic among the fans was female rocker Yeng Constantino who even gamely joined a text contest earlier on in the evening. All throughout the evening, Ebe never failed to show his gratitude since he admitted that this solo venture was a risk and yet it seemed that it has paid off judging by the positive reception from the audience.

Dalawang Mukha ng Pag-ibig

Disc 1
1. Muli
2. Isang Probinsyano sa Maynila
3. Wag Kang Mag-alala
4. Luha
5. Maligalig
6. Paalam Kahapon
7. Hanggang sa Dulo
8. Lapit
9. Ikaw ang Aking Tahanan
10. Wag na Tayong Mag-Away
Disc 2
1. Muli (Acoustic)
2. Isang Probinsyano sa Maynila (Acoustic)
3. Wag Kang Mag-alala (Acoustic)
4. Luha (Acoustic)
5. Maligalig (Acoustic)
6. Paalam Kahapon (Acoustic)
7. Hanggang sa Dulo (Acoustic)
8. Lapit (Acoustic)
9. Ikaw ang Aking Tahanan (Acoustic)
10. Wag na Tayong Mag-Away (Acoustic)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zia, Simple Girl Concert

Zia Quizon

She might have penned Simple Girl, but there seems to be absolutely nothing simple about Zia Quizon. Having Dolphy (the Philippines’ King of Comedy) and Zsa Zsa Padilla (dubbed as the Divine Diva) as parents, Karylle as a sister and belonging to a showbiz clan, Zia seemed destined to have the spotlight shine on her one day. And on the eve of her 20th birthday, Zia did have the spotlight on her as she had an intimate concert called Simple Girl coinciding with the launch of her debut album held at the T.E.A.T.R.I.N.O. in Promenade, Greenhills. Zia’s family, friends, members of the press/media, fans and well wishers filled the venue to capacity which bode well for this newest gem of Polyeast Records.

Amidst a video slide show of photos from her childhood, the band started playing a few riffs and Zia who was still off stage joined in by singing a few runs which lit up the audience. Cheers almost drowned the band when she finally came on stage and sang Simple Girl. Right from the start, the ease in which she sang was noticeable despite her looking very nervous. She did loosen up whenever she had her spiels in which she admitted that she was indeed nervous. But whatever nerves she had while on stage didn’t manifest in her singing. One person who also seemed nervous and yet excited at the same time was Zsa Zsa Padilla who stood proudly in different sections of the intimate venue to watch her daughter perform. I am pretty sure that one proud moment for her was when Zia sang one of her hits from the 80’s which was Mambobola done with a slower and more mellow arrangement.

Zia performing

Zia may not possess a vocal range that reaches the stratosphere but she does have an innate musicality and a very secure sense of pitch. She also demonstrated a clear sense of who she is as an artist through her concert repertoire. Her choice of Supposed to Grow Old by Justin Nozuka and Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones didn’t feel like they were forced upon her and that they were really her choices.

Zia and Jay R

One of the highlights of the concert was when Zia sang Ako na Lang which is also the carrier single of her album. Playful in both the lyrics and the rhythm, this song showcases the maturity of her voice without abandoning her youth. And most important of all, it didn’t sound like anyone else. During the concert, she credited her dad, Dolphy the most for her taste in music. And as a tribute to him, she sang another track from her album, Smile, which is also one of her father’s favorite songs. Jay R was the concert’s special guest and he performed a couple of numbers, a duet with Zia and a solo.

Zia, being the daughter of celebrity parents may have had the door to show business opened to her very easily. But skepticism comes with this entry to the industry. Fortunately, her talent, unique vocals and superb musicality are more than to have these doubters be silenced. The album in itself is a joy to listen to and my biggest complaint is that it’s just too short with only six tracks clocking only around twenty minutes. A talent like her deserves a full length album with mostly original compositions. As I’ve noted earlier, she seemed nervous during her concert and it was understandable since it was her first. And now I can’t wait to see her blossom and get more comfortable on stage. With Zia in the picture, the OPM scene has definitely looked brighter and it couldn’t be simpler than that.


1. So Much in Love
2. Ako na Lang
3. Dear Lonely
4. Mambobola
5. Simple Girl
6. Smile
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