Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Petra Mahalimuyak hosts Kanta Pilipinas webisodes

Petra Mahalimuyak

Kanta Pilipinas, the newest reality talent competition here in the Philippines hasn’t even been shown yet on television aside from the audition snippets, various clips and of course Lea Salonga’s music video regularly shown over at TV5. But one can see what has been happening through the various auditions nationwide through the Kanta Pilipinas videos that are already posted online. Aside from these online videos there will also be webisodes as well. Hosting these webisodes is a familiar face in the online community: YouTube sensation Petra Mahalimuyak (Ashley Rivera in real life).

Jhai Ho

The premiere episode of the Kanta Pilipinas webisode was launched recently at Roboto San Japanese Grill Buffet in Taguig. Hosting the event was Jhai Ho, Ang Pambansang Angry Bird ng Pilipinas (the National Angry Bird of the Philippines), who also hosts the nationwide auditions. He introduced Petra Mahalimuyak as the host of these webisodes during the event as well. And when the two got together, it was a laugh riot that extended not just to the guests of the launch but also to the rest of the patrons dining over at Roboto San.

Aside from hosting the online webisodes, Petra Mahalimuyak will offer feedback to the audition videos and also provde tips and advice for those who plan to audition online since it’s been announced that Kanta Pilipinas now accepts online auditionees. The webisodes will also feature notable personal stories of the auditionees from the inspiring to the heartbreaking. And what talent search audition reel would be complete without the hilariously bad auditions? Since Petra is known for her funny antics on her online videos, the webisodes will give her a chance to do just that as viewers are encouraged to send in their dares that she will attempt to accomplish. But she stressed that the dares would be screened to avoid any headaches from everyone involved. One must indeed think of the children’s welfare.

As I’ve said earlier, people at the launch were able to see the premiere episode and it featured a mock audition by Petra herself. She later said that she did actually audition but didn’t make the cut. Instead, she got offered a hosting gig for the webisodes. Then she was asked if she really had the vocal chops to really make it to Kanta Pilipinas or if she’s just messing around. And in a very Petra Mahalimuyak way, she responded to the question by dropping the bomb along with a twirl of her hair that she has just inked a recording deal.

The Kanta Pilipinas Team

The show proper of Kanta Pilipinas is still scheduled to be broadcast on television during the second half of the year. And to see how the show and the auditionees are shaping up as the premiere television episode draws near, the webisodes were produced to create more interest and raise the profile of this show. And adding Petra Mahalimuyak to the mix makes it an interesting program that combines talent, laughs and the Pinoy touch as well.

Friday, May 25, 2012

French urban dance to electrify CCP with Elektro Kif

May 30, 20128:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Elektro Kif
Blanca Li, choreographer

The dancing never stops as the Embassy of France, the Alliance Française de Manille and Rustan’s in partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines present Elektro Kif, the new choreographic work by Blanca Li on May 30, 2012, 8:00 PM at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). This event is part of the International Dance Festival Manila: Focus on European Contemporary Dance.

In this performance, eight male dancers will showcase the urban style of street dancing mixed with the theatrical and the contemporary while accompanied with music by Tao Gutierrez that mixes techno with electro house, afrobeat, and classical music. Press release for this event mentioned a style of dance called the teknotik which originated in France during the 2000’s. I still can’t imagine how urban dancing having the contemporary touch this will look like since contemporary dance usually offers the unexpected. All I know is that it will be an interesting learning experience for me especially if the music is promising just like how it was described.

Dancers are really in for a treat as the summer season winds down since here is yet another dance performance for them to enjoy. I am no dancer and yet I still look forward to seeing this performance and broadening my horizons in this field.

Ticket price:
-50% student discount
-20% senior citizen, AFM members and for persons with disabilities discount

For inquiries:
Sabrina Durand 895-7585, 895-7441, (0917) 892-8968, sabrina@alliance.ph
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Filipino artists 1:43, Myrus and Princess headline Independence Day concert in Singapore

BREAKING NEWS: From Myrus' and 1:43's manager Chris Cahilig twitter account: SAD NEWS, we hav decided to cancel our Singapore concert due to its timing with d Pacquiao fight. We'll keep u posted on our int'l gigs.

I’ve always enjoyed it whenever cultural institutions and embassies bring over foreign artists to perform here in the Philippines. But what makes me more excited is when it’s the other way around: Filipino artists going overseas and giving audiences abroad a taste of what Filipino culture is all about. And the Singapore audience will get exactly that as boy band 1:43, singer/songwriter Myrus and acoustic artist Princess Velasco headline the Philippines: One World Concert 2012 happening on June 10, 2012 at The Coliseum located at the Hard Rock Hotel in Resorts World, Singapore.

While the show will be catered towards the Filipino community there, Singaporeans are also  expected to watch. Director and concert organizer, Singaporean Jaden Zanders of Jaz-E Entertainment even said that they’ve heard that some Indonesian and Malaysian fans will be flying over to see the performances of these Filipino artists as well. And these audiences from all over South East Asia will be treated to hits by 1:43, Myrus and Princess as well as their covers of popular Filipino music (also known as OPM).


Boy band 1:43, composed of Anjo Resurreccion, Kim Nicolas, Gold Aquino and Yuki Sakamoto, is currently enjoying the success of their latest single Sa Isang Sulyap Mo (loose trans. In One Glance) which is part of the Mang Inasal Mang Aawit Music Advocacy Campaign. Already a hit in YouTube, the song has further reached a much a wider audience this summer season when the song got included in the soundtrack of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen Edition 4 shown on ABS-CBN.


Making his mark in the industry as a singer/songwriter (Sa Isang Sulyap Mo is his composition as well), Myrus has recently released his sophomore album Wanted released by Viva Records that boasts an all original content lead by the single Pusong Lito (trans. Confused Heart). A radio hit in Greater Manila and in various cities around the country, the song is further boosted by airplay in Mang Inasal outlets as part of the Mang Inasal Mang Aawit Music Advocacy Campaign as well. Myrus, along with 1:43 also had a successful concert at the Metro Bar recently.

Princess Velasco

Princess Velasco on the other hand is no stranger to viewers of the Sunday noontime variety show ASAP. A regular performer at the Sessionistas portion of the show, she has also released albums under Vicor Records with her debut album Addicted to Acoustic achieving platinum status.

I do have high hopes for these three emerging artists that contribute much to the diversity and excitement in the local music industry. And having the opportunity to spread Filipino music in other territories is something that I always support. Like what I’ve said before, I’ve always enjoyed my experiences whenever foreign embassies celebrate their national/independence days here highlighted by performances by musicians that they brought over here. But as a Filipino, it gives me great pride when it’s Filipino musicians who will be performing abroad as part of the Philippine Independence Day celebrations. All I can say to that is Mabuhay ang musikang Pilipino! trans. Long live, Filipino music!

The 64th Anniversary of the State of Israel Reception

Israel Ambassador Menashe Bar-On

It is no secret that I’ve had a good relationship with the Embassy of Israel for some time now. It all started when pianists Yaron Kohlberg and Haroni Bishara were here during the 62nd Israel National Day back in 2010. Since then, I’ve been a guest to many of their events especially those that were related to music, culture and the arts. This year, I was honored to be a guest once again at the 64th Israel National Day celebrations held at the Grand Ballroom of the InterContinental Manila.

Invited guests in this event included members of the diplomatic corps, local government officials including Rep. Imelda Marcos, and noted personalities in various fields. Being among these distinguished guests could’ve left me dumbfounded and uncomfortable. Thankfully, also present in this evening were a few people from the cultural scene whom I regularly see at concerts like Rey Sison of ROS Music Center, pianist Lorenzo Medel and Martin Lopez of FilFest Foundation and FEU. Seeing them there helped me feel at ease and be more comfortable.

Rep. Imelda Marcos (middle) with guests

This year also marked the first time that Ambassador Menashe Bar-On and his wife Madame Esther Bar-On hosted the celebrations. The Embassy invited over writer Eran Katz (Where did Noah Park the Ark?: Ancient Memory Techniques for Remembering Practically Anything) who has helped numerous people around world to improve their memory. Katz gave about an hour long lecture, offered tips on how to improve memory and even demonstrated the extent of his amazing capabilities in remembering things. He recalled from memory twenty random numbers given to him on the spot and even recited those numbers backwards. A few days after, he also had a book signing and a mini-workshop which I was unable to attend due to urgent tasks that I had to attend to over the weekend.

Lorenzo Medel, Eran Katz and RAd

This was my third year to attend the Israel National Day celebrations and I am very grateful to the Embassy and all the people who work there. And it’s not just for inviting me to be part of their celebrations but also for giving me the opportunity to experience Israeli culture through music, cuisine and cinema. Coming up on the horizon is yet another opportunity for me to experience a different branch of Israeli art/culture which is dance. Now, I just hope that the Embassy do not require me to dance.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

International Pianist Sofya Gulyak in Concert

Pianist Sofya Gulyak

Sofya Gulyak, piano

Sergei Rachmaninoff
     Morceaux de fantaisie Op. 3
          No. 1 Elégie
          No. 2 Prélude 
          No. 4 Polichinelle
     Etude Tableaux in E flat minor, Op. 39 No. 5
     Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42
Alexander Scriabin 2 Poèmes, Op. 32
Dmitri Shostakovich Prelude and Fugue in D flat major, Op. 87, No. 15
Sergei Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82

Sofya Gulyak’s performance during the final concert of the season by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cultural Center of the Philippines was barely finished and yet the talk during the meet and greet was already on her upcoming solo concert scheduled just a few weeks later. The main cause of excitement for this concert among the piano enthusiasts was that Gulyak, a Russian pianist and winner of the 2009 Leeds International Piano Competition, prepared an all Russian programme.

Too bad that there was another event happening at the Main Theater Lobby right before the concert and I stayed there too long. By the time that I got down to the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) were Gulyak's concert was being held, the audience were already going out for the intermission. So I missed the entire first half of the concert! A lot of friends who were there were surprised when they learned that I failed to the Sergei Rachmaninoff portion of the concert. They constantly reminded me throughout the intermission that I would regret my decision later.

I just had to accept that I could no longer turn back time so I just had to be content with catching just the second half of the programme. The second half started with Alexander Scriabin’s 2 Poèmes, Op. 32. There was a sense of déjà vu when Gulyak finished this one since the ending here has no resolution. And because of this, the audience didn’t applaud when it was done since they weren't even aware that the piece already ended. This is exactly what happened during the first solo concert of Gulyak when no one applauded after the opening Mazurkas by Chopin. Just like before, she went on to play the next piece which was Dmitri Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue in D flat major, Op. 87, No. 15. The prelude is one of Shostakovich’s more playful pieces and this delightful piece hinted on the themes of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The fugue that followed was something else: a superb chromatic display of exciting and boundless energy which contrasted greatly with the more sedate Scriabin piece.

Gulyak then played Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6 in A Major, Op. 82 which was performed dazzlingly despite the frantic nature of the piece in some places. The sonata ventures a lot into dissonant and atonal territory that in the hands of a lesser pianist, this piece can easily turn out into a jumbled mess and merely banging of the keys. But for Gulyak, her expert fingers gave a sense of clarity to this piece that takes a lot of effort to digest even for a seasoned listener. While her last piece is a heavyweight of a twentieth century piece, her first encore took the audience back to an earlier and simpler era. She played the first movement of Muzio Clementi’s Sonata in C major, Op. 33, No. 3 (she played the third movement during the PPO concert). And her second and final encore was the Adagio from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 974 transcribed from Alessandro Marcello’s Oboe Concerto. This was again a very surprising choice of music from Gulyak since this was very subdued and restrained compared to the bombastic Prokofiev that was played earlier.

As expected, Sofya Gulyak was received warmly by the audience during the meet and greet. I admit that she intimidated me during her first but she was actually very nice and sweet off stage. It's been some time since this concert, and now constantly wonder how her Rachmaninoff was. I guess it's time to take a trip to the CCP Library and view their video archives.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Italian dance company Le Supplici dances their way to Manila

May 23, 2012, 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

May 24-26, 2012, 3:00-7:00 PM
Myra Beltran Dance Forum Studio
36 E West Avenue
Quezon City

Le Supplici
Fabrizio Favale, choreographer

The orchestra concert season is currently on a break and for the next few months, classical music performances will be scarce. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything to see in here. In fact, I use this opportunity to broaden my horizons and to experience new things by watching other cultural performances. And now, it’s time for me to expand my horizons in dance via Italy’s Le Supplici. This contemporary dance company will have a free one night performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) on May 23, 2012 at 8:00 PM. They will also conduct a workshop on May 24-26, 2012 from 3:00 PM up to 7:00 PM at the Myra Beltran Dance Forum Studio.

The group will perform Cartografia Disabitata (Uninhabited Cartography) choreographed by Fabrizio Favale who is the founder of Le Supplici. And about a month later, a couple of films, Roccu and Un ricamo fatto sul nulla, featuring the choreography of Favali and performed by Le Supplici, will be shown at the University of the Philippines on June 28, 2012.

Le Supplici is the second of the handful of dance companies coming here this season to perform and conduct workshops and Trey McIntyre Project from the USA was the first. I failed to catch the performance of TMP but I was present during the welcome reception for them. I felt bad for missing a lot during their visit here but now, nothing is stopping me from seeing Le Supplici. This project is presented by the Embassy of Italy and the Cultural Center of the Philippines so I am expected to be always there given that I enjoy good relationships with both institutions.

Free admission

For inquiries:
Performance inquiries
     Isis Bautista 892-4531 local 143, stage.manila@esteri.it
     Jocel Pacada 832-1125 local 1412, lecoj2002@yahoo.com
Workshop inquiries
     Angel Lawenko (0917) 576 0212

Norah Jones' Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones explores new musical horizons as she collaborates with producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) for Little Broken Hearts, her fifth studio album under Blue Note/EMI Records that is released and distributed locally by Polyeast Records. A drastic departure from her previous efforts, Jones ventures into heartbreak territory by offering twelve tracks that show a darker, more cynical and impish side of her.

The album greets the listener with Good Morning that features the ethereal voice of Jones coupled with atmospheric guitar passages. But listening closely to the lyrics, one can already realize that it’s anything but good for her and this sets the tone for the rest of the album. During a listening session at the Polyeast Records office, I noted that majority of the tracks took me back to a previous Danger Mouse produced album which is the excellent Demon Days by the Gorillaz. This album is one of my favorites and I never expected a Norah Jones record of all things to evoke the sound of the Gorillaz’ sophomore effort.

While most of the tunes are laidback, effortless and seemed to drift into the air as Jones crooned along, the lead single Happy Pills stands out as a bouncy number laced with a snarky hook and lyrics. While this track made an effort to shroud the mocking lyrics behind a happy beat, there was no attempt at all to veil the threats with the chilling and disturbing Miriam.

Instead of coming up with an album that show raw emotion lamenting the heartbreak that has done wonders for some artists, Jones got playful and went wicked instead. And add to the mix the stamp of Danger Mouse with his distinct textures and beats. The result is an album with tracks that feel like fragments of Jones’ broken heart meant to stab at those that caused the heartbreak in the first place.

Little Broken Hearts

1. Good Morning
2. Say Goodbye
3. Little Broken Hearts
4. She's 22
5. Take It Back
6. After the Fall
7. 4 Broken Hearts
8. Travelin' On
9. Out on the Road
10. Happy Pills
11. Miriam 
12. All a Dream

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Care Divas

A performance of The Stars are Here Tonight by the main cast during the 2010 Gawad Buhay! Awards was my first ever encounter with Care Divas, which since has become a huge hit for Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). After seeing the production number, I’ve wondered if I’d ever see the whole show but a tight schedule and an unfamiliar location didn’t make it possible for me to me to see it despite the show having a very lengthy run. Thankfully, a collaboration between PETA and Repertory Philippines in celebration of their 45 years brought Care Divas over to Onstage at Greenbelt 1 for a very limited, one weekend, five show only engagement that I was very pleased to see.

Well, I was far more than just pleased with what I saw, heard and felt during the penultimate show. First of all, the music was first rate right from the beginning up to the end. The music and lyrics courtesy of Vincent De Jesus were so solid and memorable that I wouldn’t be surprised if people leave the theater singing Oy Vey! I really like how some themes recurred and went through some variations throughout the musical. This gave the show its own musical identity which is something that I look forward to in all musicals that I watch.

The musical, written by Liza Magtoto and directed by Maribel Legarda is basically about five transgendered caregivers in Israel trying to survive their difficult lives taking care of people in order to support their families back home. And to ease these hardships, they sideline as entertainers at night. The laughs are a dime a dozen when the five of them, Chelsea (Melvin Lee), Shai (Vincent de Jesus), Kyla (Ricci Chan), Jonee (Buddy Caramat) and Thalia (Dudz Teraña) join together to rehearse as they aim to make it vig in Tel Aviv but eventually ending up in bickering with each other and spouting lines that are currently a huge hit in the comedy bar scene in here. But show business also has its share of tears especially when reality (job security, difficult employers and even a potential love affair) threatens to tear the group apart. The musical shifts from funny to serious moments seamlessly and the laughs come out naturally and never forced especially whenever the ditzy Thalia, obviously the scene stealer, says a line or two.

The material is really good although there were some technical issues with the audio inside the theater that made some of the punch lines fall flat since they were barely heard at all. If I didn’t have the chance to hear the original cast recording, I wouldn’t have noticed the joke at all in the first place. One of the major changes in this special staging compared to the previous runs at PETA was the inclusion of additional cast members serving as the chorus. They were eye candy in various parts but I hope that their vocals were utilized a lot more during the ensemble numbers. I guess that this stemmed from the material not having a chorus in the first place and adding them proved to be difficult musically. This is just a minor gripe but I really did wish that there was a show stopping number featuring the whole company that had some wicked harmonization which is usually my most awaited portion in every musical that I see. Despite these reservations, Care Divas is still a very enjoyable musical that I expect will have more stagings in the future. My other disappointment was that the run was so limited that I didn’t have the opportunity to see the alternates like Jerald Napoles, Jason Barcial, Phil Noble and Cecilia Garrucho perform the other roles. Still, there was a good turnout in this joint effort that more collaborations between PETA and Rep Philippines are already on the works.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Congratulations to the Musica FEUROPA IV Winners!

High School Category

1st Place Boscorale
2nd Place Himig Roseña
3rd Place UPLB Rural High School Glee Club

Open Category

1st Place University of the Visayas Chorale
2nd Place Technological Institute of the Philippines Choral Society
3rd Place Holy Angels University Chorale

1st Place Open Category University of the Visayas Chorale

The University of the Visayas' trip to Manila was all worth it as they bested nine other choirs  during the recently concluded Musica FEUROPA IV, the only European Union sponsored choral competition here in the Philippines. Held at the historic FEU Auditorium at the Far Eastern University campus, the choir from Cebu emerged at the top of the Open Category and bagging the title along with 1,000. Technological Institute of the Philippines Choral Society from the National Capital Region came in second while Pampanga’s Holy Angel University Chorale came in third winning P40,000 and P20,000 respectively as well as trophies.

At the High School Category that happened a day before the Open Category finals, Boscorale from Don Bosco, Makati made it to the top for the second year in a row while Himig Roseña and UPLB Rural High School Glee Club rounded up the top three by placing second and third respectively. Don Bosco won P25,000 while P15,000 and P10,000 were awarded to the other winning choirs aside from trophies.

2nd Place Open Category Technological Institute of the Philippine Choral Society

The absence of two time defending champion, UPLB Chorale Ensemble meant that the 2012 title was up for grabs by the ten choirs that competed for the Open Category. I have to admit that UPLB was a clear standout during last year’s competition and with them not competing, it was a lot harder to predict which choirs would end up on top. The High School Category on the other hand was poised to be a more thrilling competition as the top three choirs from last year battled it out on stage once again. However, a rule violation by the Ramon Magsaysay High School led to their disqualification thus paving the way for Don Bosco to claim the title.

Unfortunately, I was unable to be on the first day of the competition but I managed to catch the second day which was the Open Category Finals. A few of the choirs had opted to wear ethnic/indigenous costumes which looked a bit odd when they performed one of the required pieces which was a song from a composer whose nationality is from the European Union. Since the competition is now on its fourth year, I saw that a lot of choirs took this requirement more seriously compared to the previous competitions when I felt like the choirs devoted a lot more time in practicing the other song requirement, which is any piece composed by a Filipino. Sadly, the level at the Open Category took a slight dive in quality as the absence of several choirs was really felt. I think that Musica FEUROPA this year is in a transitional state and that things will be on the upswing once again next year.

3rd Place Open Category Holy Angels University

The ten choirs that competed at the Open Category were San Antonio de Padua Choir, University of Baguio Voices Chorale, Regina Coeli Choir, En Harmonica, Technological Institute of the Philippines Choral Society, De La Salle University - Dasmariñas Chorale, Holy Angel University Chorale, Vox Amigos, Second Chronicle Singers and University of the Visayas Chorale. The panel of judges was composed of Arwin Tan, Ed Manguiat, Rodolfo Delarmente, Fidel Calalang Jr. and Jonathan Velasco.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Philippine Popular Music Festival (PhilPop) Experience Part 2

The Bloggers' Night

Ryan Cayabyab delivers an impromptu lecture

The time is almost up for aspiring songwriters to submit their entries for the upcoming Philippine Popular Music Festival (PhilPop) as the deadline on May 10, 2012 at 11:59 PM (GMT +08:00) is just a day away. This songwriting tilt aims to revitalize the Philippine music industry by highlighting and celebrating the Filipino songs (OPM) which has been taking a backseat to foreign material for many years. The competition will have its finals night on July 14, 2012 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the winning song will be awarded P1 million in cash while the second and third place winning songs will take home P500,000 and P250,000 respectively.

The festival’s executive director Ryan Cayabyab has been very enthusiastic about this project since it was formally launched about two months ago. And his enthusiasm has been felt online world through his tweets as he offer tips on songwriting while also reminding people not to wait until the last minute to upload their entries via the competition’s website at www.philpop.com.ph. Recently, Mr. C himself hosted a dinner at Napa Restaurant & Bar for bloggers to help spread the word and to promote PhilPop. The bloggers not only savored great food, an intimate performance by The Ryan Cayabyab Singers but they also the maestro in action as he even delivered an impromptu lecture about music.

Ryan Cayabyab and the Ryan Cayabyab singers

I thought that Ryan Cayabyab would inform us of things that I already knew from the launch but he said some stuff that I didn’t know before. First, he mentioned that the fourteen finalists will be included in a PhilPop album under Ivory Records. Another thing he said that I find very interesting was that this competition is all about finding new expressions and new forms. His short lecture that I mentioned earlier talked about melody, rhythm, dynamics, texture and timbre and how all of these figure in the songs that we usually hear. He said that a lot of OPM songs so far focused mainly on the melody and that he hopes that many of the entries would offer something new. He couldn’t stress enough the importance of finding new expressions in music through this competition. He wishes that the finalists in this competition will make up the music that will define this generation.

Ryan Cayabyab said that many of our singers have found fame and recognition abroad but sadly, the only song to penetrate the foreign market so far has only been Anak by Freddie Aguilar. He remains hopeful that PhilPop will be that spark, encouraging songwriters to come up with new material that will not only make it big here in the country but also in other markets as well. And it seems that this spark has already turned into a huge blaze as over a thousand entries have already been entered with the organizers expecting a huge amount of entries opting for a photo finish right before the submission closes its doors.

RAd plays the keyboard as Mr. C looks on

In the past year, I’ve noticed the rise of new singer/songwriters and also veteran recording artists coming up with more new and original material. Radio Republic has also recently launched and they are committed in playing OPM. And now, PhilPop comes in giving this golden opportunity for songwriters. All of these make for a very exciting time to be part of the Philippine music industry.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Songs and Symphony with the PPO

Conductors Michaël Cousteau and Agripino Diestro

Maria Krissan Manikan, soprano
Myramae Meneses, soprano
Jade Riccio, soprano
Elainne Marie Vibal, soprano
Ivan Niccolo Nery, tenor
Emmanuel de la Rosa, tenor
Jilllbert Chua, baritone
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Michaël Cousteau, conductor

Cesar Franck Symphony in D minor
Jacques Offenbach Nous venons, arrivons de tous les pays du monde from La vie parisienne
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
     Protegga il giusto cielo from Don Giovanni
     Prenderò quel brunettino from Così fan tutte
     Fra gli amplessi from Così fan tutte
George Bizet
     Nous avons en tête une affaire from Carmen
     Mêlons! – Coupons! from Carmen
Giuseppe Verdi
     Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo from La Traviata
     Libiamo ne'lieti calici from La Traviata

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s 29th concert season has just recently concluded but they still had another performance entitled Songs and Symphony with the PPO at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) barely a week later. French conductor Michaël Cousteau led the PPO in a FrancoPhil event organized by the Embassy of France, the Alliance Française de Manille and Rustan's featuring voice students who were chosen from auditions that were announced months ago. This concert was the culminating activity that marked the end of the weeklong workshop that the chosen students took under the guidance of Stephane Werchowski and Florence Guignolet, two French voice experts from the Paris Conservatoire de Rayonnement Régional.

Ralph Timmermann, French Ambassador Gilles Garachon, Richard Künzel
and Ricarda Künzel

The first part of the programme consisted of the orchestra playing Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D minor. When I found out that this was the symphony to be played in this concert, I tried to make myself acquainted with it since I’ve never heard it before. During the course of my studies regarding this piece, I learned that the French didn’t warm up to the symphonic form compared to other countries in the region, hence the very limited number of such works from French composers. And sadly, the piece didn’t get through me at all despite my efforts. The orchestra performed it competently under the baton of Cousteau, but figuring out the cyclic nature of the work and also feeling that the second movement, notable for its use of the English horn, was alright, they still weren't enough for me to place this piece among those that appeal to me, let alone include it among one of my favorites. I guess that this was just one of those moments that the music didn’t connect to me at all. This is all a matter of preference since someone among the audience may have this certain piece as his or her favorite.

On the second half of the programme, the chosen participants had their moment to shine. The students who took the masterclass and performed at this concert were Maria Krissan Manikan, Myramae Meneses, Jade Riccio, Elainne Marie Vibal, Ivan Niccolo Nery, Emmanuel de la Rosa, and Jilllbert Chua. At first, I was a bit worried since the song selection wasn’t announced prior to the concert and I do like going into a concert knowing what was to be performed. My worry increased when I learned that the songs to be performed, arias by Offenbach, Mozart, Bizet and Verdi, were not just mostly unknown to me and but they are also in another language. But Florence Guignolet made things very accessible by employing lots of humor in this section. I must admit though that I got lost in whatever the narrative was since one song segued into the other. While I was confused with whatever the story was, the performers looked very comfortable and clearly enjoyed their moment on stage. Despite not having the technical competence of the professional opera singers, they performed with reckless abandon and without any restraint. This fun section of the program continued on up to the encore of Oui, voilà la vie parisienne by Offenbach from La vie parisienne.

Stephane Werchowski and Florence Guignolet with the masterclass participants 

The audience and the rest of the French Embassy officials, including the new Ambassador Gilles Garachon were pleased with the result of the workshop and the concert. I’ve heard some talk at the lobby making this an annual affair. If that is the case, voice students should already prepare for the next round of auditions.

A Date with Italian Cinema @ the Shang

The Philippine-Italian Association launched Un appuntamento con il Cinema Italiano (A Date with Italian Cinema) @ the Shang which is part of their celebrations of their 50th Anniversary this year. Once a month, an Italian film (with English subtitles) will be shown for free at the Shangri-La Plaza for film enthusiasts and the general public to enjoy.

RAd with Cristina Moricca (right most) of the Philippine Italian Association,
film producer Alemberg Ang (2nd from right) and other guests.

This film event formally opened with the screening of the film Meditarraneo. Before the film was shown, cocktails were served at the Shaw Hall which was graced by officers and members of the Philippine-Italian Association, Film Development Council of the Philippines and other invited guests. Aside from Mediterraneo, other films slated to be shown are La Stanza del Figlio (The Son’s Room), L’Ultimo Baccio (The Last Kiss), Romanzo Criminale (The Crime Novel), Travolti da un Insulito Destino (Swept Away), Vincere (Victory) and Le Fate Ignoranti (Ignorant Fairies).


The film shown during the launch was Mediterraneo, the winner of the Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film in 1992. This movie, directed by Gabriele Salvatores, tells the story of a bunch of misfit and seemingly incompetent Italian soldiers who got stranded at the Greek island during the early days of World War II. In the midst of the war that was raging at the world around them, the soldiers eventually adapt to the carefree, rustic and peaceful life along with the residents of the island.

Mediterraneo is a breath of fresh air compared to the special effects laden blockbusters/franchises that have been dominating the cineplexes in recent years. The simple plot, the quirkiness of the characters and the idyllic nature of the island combine for a very charming and human film. The story took place during World War II but the soldiers weren’t depicted as combatants but rather as human beings. War always focus on destroying the enemy and having the other side lose, but this film focused more on making connections and relationships in which both sides win.

La Stanza del Figlio (The Son’s Room) will be the next film to be screened. This movie, directed by Nanni Moretti will be shown on May 24, 2012. Limited seats only. Seats are on a first-come, first-served basis. For inquiries call Ms. Marissa Ronquillo of the Philippine Italian Association at 815-1310 or 892-7253.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Emmanuelle Album Launch


So many songs about heartbreaks and relationships going bad have been dominating the local airwaves for quite sometime. But once in a while, a new and exciting talent emerges embodying positive vibes and a Happy disposition and young recording artist Emmanuelle is simply just that. To celebrate the release of her self-titled debut album, a launch was held at Patio Carlito that was attended by members of the press and various media outlets.

Emmanuelle by the way is not entirely new to the industry. She was signed by Universal Records four years ago but she had to hone her craft and expand her musicality before releasing her album. She did appear in several television series prior to being launched as a recording artist. But in the end, she comes up with an album consisting of seven tracks (six originals and one cover) that showcase her mature and polished voice but having a song selection that remain true and appropriate for her age. And this appropriateness showed itself in the three tracks that Emmanuelle herself penned: the lead single Happy, Dear Diary and Tonight. Yeng Constantino is featured in a duet on Manong Guard written by Iohann Garcia while Ito Rapadas and Jude Gitamondoc compositions Sandali Lang and Sarap Mabuhay round up the new tracks in the album. The lone cover, God Gave Me You, was hand picked by Emmanuelle herself ending the album on a high and feel good note.

I find it hard to believe that she’s just seventeen. Not only was she tall but she actually managed to have three of her songs in her debut album which is very unusual. She first made her mark in the industry as an actress but she said that she has no plans to go back to acting since her music is her priority now. With a pleasant sounding voice, a promising songwriting and guitar playing ability, Emmanuelle is indeed a welcome addition to the local music industry.

Emmanuelle's self titled debut album under Universal Records is now out on record bars nationwide and at MyMusicStore Philippines.


1. You Make Me Happy
2. Dear Diary
3. Tonight
4. Manong Guard with Yeng Constantino
5. Sandali Lang
6. Sarap Mabuhay
7. God Gave Me You
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