Saturday, December 28, 2013

Carmen at the FEU

The cast of Carmen

Ana Feleo, soprano
Randy Gilongo, tenor
Noel Azcona, baritone
Stephanie Aguilar, soprano
UST Symphony Orchestra
William Barkyhmer, conductor

The FEU Auditorium played host to two Carmens in their Cultural Calendar for the school year 2013-2014 bearing the theme of Debuts and Farewells. The first Carmen to take to the stage was prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, who danced the title role for the last time when her company Ballet Manila presented the ballet Carmen. Less than a couple of months later, Ana Feleo reprised the role of Carmen in the repeat run of the opera by the Lyric Opera of the Philippines.

The Lyric Opera of the Philippines first staged Carmen back in 2012 at the St. Cecilia’s Hall at St. Scholastica’s College, Manila. In this repeat run, Ana Feleo was joined by a mix of returning and new cast members. Reprising their roles once again were Randy Gilongo as Don Jose, and Noel Azcona as Escamillo. But this was the first time that Feleo and Gilongo were paired together for the previous run had them playing alongside different partners. Laurice Guillen once again was at the helm as the stage director. New to the cast was Stephanie Aguilar as Micaela, the UST Symphony Orchestra and conductor William Barkhymer who made his Philippine debut with this production. Completing the main cast were Gereberne Lozada (Mercedes), Patrice Pacis (Frasquita), Pepe Herrera (Dancairo), Nomher Nival (Remendado), Jun Jaranilla (Zuniga) and Greg de Leon (Morales).

This production of Carmen was stripped to the core by having almost a bare stage having only minimal props. This somewhat enabled the audience to focus solely on the performers and also to the music composed by Georges Bizet. For those who are familiar with the music of the opera, they would’ve noticed that the Avec la garde montante that was supposed to be sung by a children’s chorus during the changing of the guards in Act I was omitted in this production. This production may not have been as grand as other operas out there but one thing that they managed to have was the FEU Auditorium’s much improved acoustics. The performers were able to project their voices without the aid of microphones so they were able to focus more on acting and their characters instead of exerting too much effort in order to be heard.

I can only imagine how much of a challenge this Carmen was for conductor William Barkhymer. For one, the orchestra was placed at the back of the stage and not at the pit which is the norm for opera. It probably wasn’t very easy for him to conduct while not facing the singers who were performing on stage right behind his back. This production also didn’t have the opportunity to have a dress rehearsal since the super typhoon Yolanda led to the cancellation of the all important final rehearsals before the curtain rose.

Remarkably, the UST Symphony Orchestra was in tiptop shape, sounding a lot better compared to performances I’ve seen and heard in recent years. Members of the orchestra sacrificed their semester break in order to rehearse for up to five hours a day in preparation for this opera.

But probably the most pleasant surprise of all was the scene stealing presence of popular actress Marian Rivera who came to support her dear friend Ana Feleo. I never expected Marian to be a fan of the opera but she clearly enjoyed watching the show. She was particularly very impressed by Aguilar’s take on Micaela’s showstopping aria Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante during Act III. And in the end, she led in cheering the whole cast and production team during the curtain call.

Carmen was presented by the Lyric Opera of the Philippines and the Far Eastern University’s President’s Committee on Culture.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Giuseppe Verdi, the Composer, the Man, the Patriot

One of the events this year that was held in celebration of Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birth anniversary was the traveling multimedia exhibit Giuseppe Verdi, the Composer, the Man, the Patriot. The exhibit presented various aspects of Giuseppe Verdi, from the musician to the land owner. Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno welcomed guests and delivered the opening remarks during the opening of the exhibit’s first stop at the Yuchengco Museum’s Water Dragon Gallery.

Italian Ambassador Massimo Roscigno delivering the opening remarks

The main highlight of the exhibit for me are the 39 panels showcasing the art and the artists behind the designs of the most important original score covers of Verdi’s operas. I have no idea if these opera scores were made available to the public back then, but the art in the covers are a sight to behold. Much thought were given by the artists in creating the covers that featured some intricate line work. I think that it’s too bad that the panels only featured reproductions of these covers. It made me wonder as to where the original first editions are and if they have been preserved as important historical documents.

Another feature of the exhibit are the 14 panels that presented the private and more intimate aspect of Verdi’s life as that of a landowner, architect, engineer and as a gracious host. This is one side of the composer outside of his music that is rarely explored and discussed.

Lastly, there was also a video art installation wherein a film made by Officina di Videostoria, under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic was shown. This film intends to convey through the universal language of images and music from Verdi’s operas, 200 years of common events that are part of the human heritage.

After its run at the Yuchengco Museum, the exhibit was on view at the UP College of Music and made a brief stop during the Viva Verdi 1813-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert at the CCP.

Giuseppe Verdi, the Composer, the Man, the Patriot was organized by the Embassy of Italy, in cooperation with the Philippine-Italian Association and Rustan’s to mark the bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth.

Akapela Open Finals Night

JC Arizapa, Ron Laderas, Avin Laderas, Daniel Briones, and Trishia Marie Ilingan

Contemporary a cappella singing made its presence felt in the Philippines this 2013 through a series of workshops conducted by Ryan Cayabyab. And the workshops eventually lead towards the first ever Akapela Open where a total of nine a cappella groups from all over the country battled it out at the Meralco Theater with Acapellago from Malolos, Bulacan emerging triumphant.

Acapellago, composed of Trishia Marie Ilingan, Daniel Briones, Avin Laderas JC Arizapa and Ron Laderas, mesmerized the crowd with their Jeepney themed medley that included Jeepney both by Kala and Sponge Cola, Jeepney Love Story by Yeng Constantino and tucked in the middle of it all was Ryan Cayabyab’s Limang Dipang Tao. The crowd pleasing number was not only linked thematically, but it also had a story behind it which is that of a budding love among passengers inside a jeepney. Acapellago had the audience by the palm of their hands that by the time they did their second number Yakap Sa Dilim, they practically sealed their win in my opinion. As the first ever winner of the Akapela Open, the group received P250,000 and a trophy.

The 1st Runner Up and recipient of P150,000 was the Baguio based group Pinopella. They had a jam packed presentation that started with the up tempo Wings by Little Mix.  Their second song was Sa May Bintana, composed by Ryan Cayabyab and originally recorded by James Coronel. They capped it off with a medley of contemporary pop tunes that included Call Me Maybe, Domino, Roar, Payphone, Just the Way You Are and We are Young.

UP Diliman based group 1415 was the 2nd Runner Up winning P100,000.  Their rendition of the Eraserhead’s Alapaap also won them the Best Arrangement of an OPM song which was worth an additional P50,000. For their second number, they did a mashup of Antukin and Elesi.

Acapellago performing at the after party

The other competing teams in the competition were D’Trendz from Digos City, Davao, Fivibe also from Davao, Overtone who are based in UST, Tafttonic from De La Salle University, the Xavier University Glee Club Showstoppers and W/Plesha. The non-winning groups got a surprise as they were all awarded a consolation prize of P30,000 by One Meralco Foundation and Meralco Chief Operating Officer Oscar Reyes.

The judging panel given the difficult task of adjudicating the groups was made up of choral conductor Jonathan Velasco, Baihana member Krina Cayabyab, and singer/musician Monet Silvestre. The trio of Banjo Gonzales, Pael Gutierrez and Enzo Mendoza proved to be capable hosts for finals night. Their onstage antics and impromptu a cappella singing based on a single word solicited from the audience brought some hearty laughs from the audience.

The Akapela Open really marked the resurgence of contemporary a cappella singing here in the country. I am pleased that competing groups were only allowed to do original arrangements for the finals night. And the addition of a prize for Best Arrangement of an OPM Song encouraged all the teams to include a Filipino song in their numbers. But I noticed that some of the groups’ performances of the Filipino songs were not up to par compared to the foreign ones. I guess that the local tunes had not been part of their repertoire and that they only learned the pieces just for the competition. I expect that this discrepancy between the local and foreign tunes will be lessened in upcoming editions of the competition. The bar has already been set and I can expect that many a cappella groups now are already looking forward to the next edition of the Akapela Open. The future also looks bright for contemporary a cappella singing here in the Philippines since one off shoot of the competition was the formation of Philippine Contemporary A cappella Society.

Acapellago with Ryan Cayabyab

The Akapela Open was presented by The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab with the PLDT Smart Foundation and One Meralco Foundation.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Gusto Trattoria Italiana Dining Experience

Italian artist Nino Quartana is often seen along with his wife Emanuela Adesini, cultural attaché of the Embassy of Italy during cultural events of various embassies and institutions. But of late, Nino has been conspicuously absent from these events as he is now busy at the kitchen of Gusto Trattoria Italiana, an Italian restaurant specializing in Sicilian cuisine located in the food hub of Parañaque.

For some months, Nino had cooking lessons held in Makati but I didn’t have the chance to take them or even drop by to see (and possibly taste) the food that he and his students have prepared. I did have a taste of some of his appetizers which he served during his Faces of Pinoy Rock exhibit some time ago but nothing beats trying a full meal. So on one lazy Saturday afternoon, Emanuela and I traveled down south of the metro so that I can finally try for myself Nino’s dishes. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter that much traffic or as Emanuela said: Per fortuna, oggi non c'e traffico.

Nino Quartana

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were warmly welcomed by Nino who had been waiting for us. The first thing I noticed when I looked around was the prominently displayed painting of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao by Nino that was done in his signature style of including volcanic ash in his works. And on the opposite wall, there was a collage of famous Italian personalities. Thankfully, I wasn’t quizzed about these personalities were since it was only legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Oscar Award winning actor Roberto Benigni whom I was able to identify from the lot. But what really pleased me was the shelf that had some CDs, books, magazines and comics in Italian. I browsed with much interest copies of Corto Maltese and Dylan Dog in their original language which surprised Emanuela since she wasn’t aware that I happen to know these Italian comicbook characters.

But I had to set these comics or fumetti aside since it was time for us to eat. I left the decision to Nino and Emanuela on what appetizers to have. As I’ve told Emanuela, it doesn’t matter what we have as long as it is good. Non importa se è buono. We were first served Agliata di zucca which was an appetizer of pumpkin slices drizzled with garlic oil.

Agliata di zucca

Next was a plate of Panelle which I truly enjoyed. The warmth of the chickpea fritters along with the sourness of freshly squeezed lemon made me want to eat this forever. But there was still the main course.


I was asked which main course I wanted and it was a choice between Lasagna bolognese and Spaghetti al nero di seppia. Emanuela decided to have the lasagna while I tried to be adventurous and went for the spaghetti instead.

Lasagna bolognese

The decision to have the spaghetti might surprise people who know me since I’ve never developed a liking for squid ink particularly because of its unattractive color. Surprisingly, I found it to be a delectable dish since the squid, aside from having generous portions, was fresh and cooked just right. As someone who belongs to a family whose business involved seafood, I can distinguish between fresh ones and those that had been frozen and thawed prior to cooking. Of course, those freshly caught are superior in taste and in texture.

Spaghetti al nero di seppia

For dessert, we had Crespella alla Nutella which I think should be avoided by anyone who is on a strict diet. I joked to Emanuela that this posed a danger for those who are trying to lose weight since it was sinfully delightful. È pericoloso, I told her. This dish I enjoyed alongside a glass of Zibibbo, a sweet dessert wine.

Crespella alla Nutella

Dining at Gusto Trattoria Italiana was a very pleasant and casual experience. The atmosphere is very relaxed as befitting a trattoria. One could easily just chill while dining although Nino had to remind me several times not to let the food cool since they tasted a lot better when still hot. I did enjoy my time there for not only did I have a hearty meal, but I also learned a lot more about Italian culture specifically about Italian music and comics. People have said before that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, I think that a way for a man to learn Italian is through his stomach as well based on my dining experience.

Gusto Trattoria Italiana is located at 215 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes Parañaque.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bea Binene’s Dito sa Puso Ko Press Conference

Bea Binene and Ken Chan

The debut album of teen star Bea Binene, Hey It’s Me and its Christmas edition proved to be a success that a sophomore effort, Dito Sa Puso Ko was released soon after. In this album, Bea Binene teams up with fellow teen star Ken Chan as they offer 10 pop tracks geared towards a booming teen market.

The album Dito Sa Puso Ko, released by Galaxy Records and distributed by Polyeast Records, features a mix of covers culled various decades with fresh and updated arrangements enabling the current teen listeners to get acquainted with songs from the past. Kicking off the album is the title track, originally recorded by Ogie Alcasid and given a bubbly pop sound in Bea’s version.

Bea Binene

Other songs by Bea in the album include the immortal high school graduation anthem High School, DJ Alvaro’s Ang Tipo Kong Lalaki. Her latest album also sees Bea recording her first ever original track, entitled Asa Ka Pa, a fun track about a disinterested girl telling a persistent guy just to leave her be.

Ken Chan is heavily featured in the album with solo tracks such as Nais Ko Malaman Mo and both the regular and extended versions of Sumayaw Sumunod. The tandem has also recorded a number of duets as well that include the resurging dance hit Whoops Kirri, Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang and Bakit Labis Kita Mahal.

Bea Binene and Ken Chan

I guess that this album is one way of building Bea and Ken as a love tandem. And I guess it worked during the press conference held at the Sequoia Hotel for both Bea and Ken were asked by some entertainment writers about the true nature of their relationship.

This music endeavor is but one of the many facets in Bea Binene’s life. Starting out as a child actress, Bea has also ventured into martial arts specifically wushu. Her busy schedule doesn’t allow her to train as much as she wants to but she is willing to return to it soon. Her involvement in wushu has increased the profile of the martial art in the country. And in terms of music, she is currently learning how to play the guitar, proudly announcing that she has now acquired the calluses in her fingers, common to those playing the instrument.

Ken Chan

Bea Binene’s Dito Sa Puso Ko, released by Galaxy Records and distributed by Polyeast Records, is now available in record outlets nationwide. The title track Dito Sa Puso Ko and the rest of the tracks can be downloaded in digital format through online sellers like MyMusicStore Philippines and iTunes. The event was made possible by Galaxy Records, Polyeast Records, Sequioa Hotel, BUM Equipment and Shimmian Manila.

Dito Sa Puso Ko

1. Whoops Kiri
2. High School
3. Dito Sa Puso Ko
4. Nais Ko Malaman Mo
5. Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang
6. Ang Tipo Kong Lalaki
7. Sumayaw Sumunod
8. Asa Ka Pa
9. Bakit Labis Kita Mahal
10. Sumayaw Sumunod (Extended Version)

Gloc-9's Liham at Lihim Press Conference


Following up the critically acclaimed album Mga Kwento ng Makata seems like a daunting task for rapper Gloc-9. The album, upon its release, not only became a hit among listeners, critics and peers in the industry but it also spawned the phenomenal hit single Sirena that took YouTube and radio airwaves by storm. Practically every singer in the country wanted to collaborate with Gloc-9 by singing the chorus that was originally done by Ebe Dancel.

And now, with the release of his latest album Liham at Lihim, released by Universal Records, Gloc-9 proves why he is one of the most relevant artists in the music industry today. Composed of 12 tracks featuring collaborations with music big guns like Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, Rico Blanco and Chito Miranda among many others, Liham at Lihim once again shows the rapper’s ability to tell stories that have social relevance and that resonate to a wide spectrum of listeners, transcending social and economic classes. While Mga Kwento ni Makata featured collaboration in all of its tracks, Liham at Lihim now has a few tracks done solo by Gloc-9.

The new album’s lead single Magda, a collaboration with Rico Blanco, tells the story of a woman who has fallen from grace told through the perspective of her long time admirer, Ernesto. The music video, featuring Jennylyn Mercado and Alex Medina, has figured prominently in MYX’s Daily Top 10 countdown since its premiere.

In talking about Liham at Lihim during his press conference held at Universal Records, Gloc-9 said that the word play (changing just one letter) in the title appealed to him. He also added that the word liham translated as letter or mail is a throw back to the days when snail mail was still the norm. He stresses that emotion is seen through the impression made by the pen, hence the handwritten script font used in the album cover. And the lihim (secret) is reflected on the stories told in the album not normally featured in mainstream music.

Other songs from this album are Huminahon Ka featuring Sly Kane, Takip Silim featuring Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, KMT featuring Eunice Jorge of Gracenote, Rap Ka Nga, Kuwento Mo, Tsinelas sa Putikan featuring Marc Abaya, Siga featuring Quest, Hindi Sapat featuring Denise Barbacena, Katulad Ng Iba featuring Zia Quizon, Kunwari featuring Kamikazee, Biboy Garcia of Queso and Manuel Legarda of Wolfgang and Itak Ni Andres.

Gloc-9’s Liham at Lihim, released by Universal Records is now available in record stores nationwide. Magda and the rest of the tracks are available for download in MyMusicStore Philippines.

Liham at Lihim

1. Huminahon Ka
2. Takip Silim
3. KMT
4. Magda
5. Rap Ka Nga
6. Kuwento Mo
7. Tsinelas sa Putikan
8. Siga
9. Hindi Sapat
10. Katulad Ng Iba
11. Kunwari
12. Itak Ni Andres

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Evening of Bel Canto

Tenor Arthur Espiritu

Arthur Espiritu, tenor
Elainne Vibal, soprano
Myramae Meneses, soprano
Stephanie Aguilar, soprano
Najib Ismail, piano

George Frideric Handel Tornami a vagheggiar from Alcina
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Ruhe Sanft from Zaide
Gioachino Rossini
     Ah come mai non senti from Otello
     Sombre forêt from William Tell
Vincenzo Bellini
     Qui la Voce from I Puritani
     Vieni,vieni  fra questa from I Puritani
     Prendi, l’anel ti dono from La Sonnambula
     Si, fuggire a noi non resta... Ah, crudel, d'onor ragioni from I Capuletti e i Montecchi
Gaetano Donizetti
     Quel guardo, il cavaliere from Don Pasquale
     Tornami a dir che m’ami from Don Pasquale
     Chacun le sait from La Fille du Regiment
     Ah! Mes amis from La Fille du Regiment

Bel canto, or beautiful singing in English, is a term that I often encounter whenever I dabble into the world of opera. But being the opera newbie that I still am, my idea about bel canto is still somewhat vague and I still couldn’t say if a certain aria was sung bel canto or not. Thankfully, the MCO Foundation, together with the Ayala Museum, came up with the concert, An Evening of Bel Canto that served as a great way for me to familiarize myself with this singing style.

Performers during this evening were Arthur Espiritu, possibly the most celebrated Filipino tenor today and promising young sopranos Elainne Vibal, Myramae Meneses, and Stephanie Aguilar. Accompanied by pianist Najib Ismael, they performed arias that are rarely heard during concerts in here. The MCO Foundation felt that it was time to steer away from the usual arias, offer something new and also have Arthur Espiritu tackle some challenging material.

I learned that bel canto may be an Italian term but it’s application isn’t limited to operas from Italy or in the Italian language, or by Italian composers. The opening number, Elainne Vibal’s Tornami a vagheggiar from Alcina was by George Frideric Handel who was born in Germany but flourished in Britain during the Baroque era. Ruhe Sanft, performed by Stephanie Aguilar, from the unfinished opera Zaide by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in German. And the final couple of numbers from Gaetano Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment were in French. I initially thought that bel canto came to be during the Romantic period but based on the two opening numbers, it seemed that bel canto already existed during the Baroque and Classical period.

Honestly, the unfamiliar program, taken out of context, meant that the meaning of the songs were lost in me. But I was able to relish the various tones, textures and colors of the sopranos especially Myramae Meneses who stood out with her solo Quel guardo, il cavaliere from Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti. I felt bad for missing her solo concert a while back and I was pleased to be able to have another chance to hear her again.

The most highly anticipated part of the concert was the last song, Ah! Mes amis from Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment in which Arthur Espiritu was awaited to hit the nine high C’s of this very challenging piece. During that night, I heard that Arthur was struggling with colds (not surprising considering the freaky weather at the time) but despite some barely noticeable strain, he was able to hit those C’s. After this number, he humorously let out a huge sigh of relief while basking in the applause of a very appreciative audience.

Arthur along with Elainne Vibal, Myramae Meneses, and Stephanie Aguilar then sang an encore, Libiamo ne' lieti calici from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, which he explained is not bel canto. Several members of the audience at the back joined in as the chorus giving this number a sort of surround audio experience.

An Evening of Bel Canto was made possible in partnership with the Ayala MuseumBusinessWorld, HighLife, 98.7 DZFE The Master’s Touch and Lyric Piano and Organ.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jed Madela, Raul Sunico, Olivier Ochanine join forces for benefit concert at the CCP

December 18, 2013, 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Jed Madela, vocals
Raul Sunico, piano
Olivier Ochanine, flute
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Herminigildo Ranera, conductor

A grand gala concert featuring Jed Madela, Raul Sunico, Olivier Ochanine and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra happens on December 18, 2013, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater). This benefit concert, billed as Romancing Ivory, highlights the 35th anniversary celebration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex Employees Organization (CCPCEO).

Romancing Ivory is a rare collaboration among the Philippines’ most acclaimed performers in the popular and classical music scene. Recording artist Jed Madela, who possesses an impressive wide vocal range, will serenade audiences with songs ranging from OPM, Broadway and pop. Joining him will be Raul Sunico who will perform piano solos and will also do duets with Madela. The two will be accompanied by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra to be led this evening by their associate conductor Herminigildo Ranera. The PPO’s principal conductor and music director, Olivier Ochanine will be gracing the evening with flute performances.

Romancing Ivory is a presentation of CCPCEO in cooperation with the CCP, and the Opera Guild of the Philippines, with the support of Rustan's and Harbour Square. Direction is by Ariel Yonzon, head of the CCP Production and Exhibition Department.

Ticket prices:
P3000 Orchestra Center Front/Parterre Box
P2500 Orchestra Center Back/Orchestra Side/Lower Box
P2000 Extreme Orchestra Side
P1500 Upper Box
P1000 Balcony I
P500 Balcony II

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office 832-3704, 832-3706,

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Japanese conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura returns to conduct PPO December concert

Conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura

December 13, 2013, 8:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Ray Wang, cello
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Yoshikazu Fukumura, conductor

Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
Camille Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33
Manuel De Falla El sombrero de tres picos

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes back Japanese conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura as he leads the orchestra in a concert featuring cellist Ray Wang this December 13, 2013, 8:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

The evening, billed as Fukumura, Wang & Saint-Saëns will feature Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 and Manuel De Falla's El sombrero de tres picos (Three Cornered Hat).

Fukumura, who conducted the PPO back in November 2012 during the concert PPO III: Fukumura Conducts Brahms, is recognized as one of the famous maestros in Japan. He is the former music director of the Tokyo Ballet, Kyoto Municipal Symphony, and Nagoya Philharmonic. He has also conducted the Japan Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Yomiuri Japan Symphony, Osaka Philharmonic, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Gunma Symphony, Sapporo Symphony, Kyushu Symphony, and other well-acclaimed performances abroad, including Europe, Latin America, and in Asia. He was assigned as the first chief conductor of ASEAN Symphony Orchestra - consisting of 80 musicians carefully selected from some of the ASEAN countries, at the 17th ASEAN summit in Hanoi in October 2010 as supported by the Nippon Foundation.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Ticket prices:
P1500 Orchestra Center
P1200 Orchestra Side
P800 Extreme Orchestra Side
P500 Balcony I Center
P400 Balcony I Side
P300 Balcony II
-50% student discount
-20% senior citizen discount

For inquiries:
CCP Marketing Department 832-1125 local 1806
CCP Box Office 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Cellist Ray Wang to conduct masterclass at the CCP

Cellist Ray Wang

December 11, 2013, 2:00 PM
Silangan Hall
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

Renowned Hong Kong based cellist Ray Wang will conduct a masterclass for young emerging cellists on December 11, 2013, 2:00 PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Silangan Hall.

Ray Wang is a faculty member of the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts. He has performed throughout the musical centers and festivals in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. His performances have taken him also to Chicago, Cremona, Florence, London, Luxembourg, New York, Saarbrucken, Segovia and Vancouver. He is an active chamber musician and is founding member of the Hong Kong Virtuosi, Canzone Trio and the New Arts String Quartet in Hong Kong. His students have enjoyed a wide range of successful careers in music, and have won top prizes in such cello competitions as the 1994 International Heran Violoncello Competition, the 2001 Hong Kong Competition for Young Asian Musicians, the 2002 International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition as well as the National Cello Competition of China in 1997, 2000 and 2004.

For inquiries:
CCP Artist Training Division 832-1125 local 1605,

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Manila Symphony Orchestra presents Music for Christ: A Christmas Festival at Santuario de San Jose Parish

December 12, 2013, 7:30 PM
Santuario de San Jose Parish
Greenhills, San Juan

Margarita Giannelli, soprano
Chino Soberano, violin
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor
Greenhills Music Studio Ensemble
St. Paul Manila University Chorale

The Manila Symphony Orchestra, in cooperation with Santuario de San Jose Parish presents Music for Christ: A Christmas Festival happening on December 12, 2013, 7:30 PM at the Santuario de San Jose Parish in Greenhills, San Juan.

This concert celebrating the holiday season will feature music of the masters dedicated to the Master Composer, the heavenly Father. Program includes works by international composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel and local ones like Ryan Cayabyab, and Ariel Arambulo. Soloists for the evening are soprano Margarita Giannelli and violinist Chino Soberano who will be performing alongside musical groups including the Manila Symphony Orchestra, Greenhills Music Studio Ensemble, St. Paul Manila University Chorale among many others.

The Manila Symphony Orchestra

Music for Christ: A Christmas Festival will benefit relief efforts for Typhoon Yolanda and the CASA MARELLO Home for the Aged Priests of Oblates of St. Joseph (OSJ), the holy order in charge of Santuario de San Jose Parish.

Ticket prices:
Gold P1000
Silver P500

For inquiries:
MSO 523-5712,
TicketWorld 891-9999

Friday, December 06, 2013

Maxie The Musicale

The press launch of Maxie The Musicale had me hearing Gising, gising umaga na/Wake up, wake up, it’s already morning in my sleep. This line was from the opening song of the musical which the cast performed during the launch and since then, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I somehow knew that it could possibly take another song from the musical to dislodge this melody in my mind. So despite the threat of a super typhoon, I decided to take a risk and traveled over to the PETA Theater Center to see this musical based on the 2005 film Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros/The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros.

The title character, Maximo “Maxie” Oliveros, portrayed by vocal powerhouse Jayvhot Galang, is a 12 year old flamboyant gay from the slums of Sampaloc who falls in love with Victor (Jojo Riguerra), an idealistic policeman who has been newly transferred to the area. This love affair is made complicated by Maxie’s father Paco (Nazer Salcedo), and brothers Boy (Al Gatmaitan), and Bogs (Jay Gonzaga) who are notorious crooks plaguing the neighborhood. While Maxie’s family members are shady criminals, his friends Nar (Aaron Ching), Monique (Teetin Villanueva), Leslie (Nomer Limatog, Jr.) and archrival Peter (Eo de Guzman) however, are hilariously loud. These and the various eccentric characters in the neighborhood comprise Maxie’s world and add much needed color (added by some splendid) lighting by John Batalla and character in his bleak surroundings (made possible by production designer Gino Gonzales).

As expected, it was the music that I really paid attention to while watching the show directed by Dexter Santos. The trio of William Elvin Manzano, JJ Pimpinio and Janine Santos set into music the lyrics by librettist Nicolas Pichay. The music was an eclectic mix of genres and styles ranging from the Manila sound of the 70’s, pop/rap ditties of the 90’s, with a generous throwback to the kundimans from the early 20th century. And as I predicted, Gising, gising was replaced by a handful of very catchy tunes like the descending melody in triple meter which was the chorus of Tulad ng Gin that was also heard throughout the show. I did find myself singing the backup vocal part that goes ~aaaaaaaaaaaah of Bekimon days after I saw the show.

I also echo the statements by others that Jayvhot Galang, in his musical theater debut, is indeed one of the major finds of the year. It is remarkable that he has retained some of his pre-pubescent range despite being already 15 years old. And he displayed a great variety of vocal styles and colors as he utilized different registers instead of just belting every song out. This made tender moments really tender when he used the falsetto and there was more weight into the emotional and tense parts when it came for him to belt it out. I also found it very interesting towards the end, when Maxie declares that he has turned into a young woman. There was a noticeable lowering of the pitch that perhaps signaled the deepening of a teenage male voice at the onset of puberty.

Jayvhot Galang and Nathan Lopez

Other notable scenes for me were the Tabo Tabo part with an almost naked male ensemble performing like the Hagibis. And the same ensemble later on donned evening gowns and swimsuits during the Beaucon which really added more to the entertainment factor. Aaron and Nomer had their moments during the talent portion numbers of the Beaucon which was so camp. Their production numbers probably had the most horrible dancing technique, (intentionally I think) ever accurately mirroring actual talent competitions that give more credit to the energy level and projection rather than to proper execution and actual talent. Teetin’s useless talent portion number epitomized this. This is actually a pet peeve of mine but it was used to full comedic effect in the show and I was almost in tears because of laughing.

Probably the most difficult scene to pull of musically for me was the funeral (that had an actual casket) that had the cast singing a cappella. It’s hard to do this without someone directing or giving cues and the ensemble really had to rely on each other to do it properly while remaining in character. Clearly the best moment of the musical for me was the sort of entr’acte that recapped the previous scenes from Acts I and II to hilarious effect especially the resuscitation and slapping scenes that had Aaron almost stealing the show. It also gave Teetin a chance to have her voice be really heard in this number.

Jay Gonzaga, Nazer Salcedo and Al Gatmaitan

I just have to mention a friend of mine, ensemble member Al Bernard Garcia who exemplified what a true performer is. He showed what a trooper he when he performed during the opening weekend despite being the super typhoon Yolanda ravaging his hometown of Tacloban, Leyte and still not having news about his family at the time. I couldn’t imagine what was going on through his mind all that time but like what they say in the live entertainment industry, the show must go on. Thankfully, his family was unharmed during the typhoon.

Bit by Bit Company’s Maxie The Musicale capped a banner year with a notable number of original Filipino musicals premiering. With music that really captured the Filipino character and sensibilities, memorable characters such as Maxie, Victor, and the rest of the Bekimons, and a hilarious story that can transcend beyong the intended LGBT and die hard theater audience, Maxie easily stands out as one of the gems of Philippine musical theater in recent years. I will not be surprised if this production continues to bloom and becomes a fixture in the Philippine theater scene. Maxie The Musicale's remaining shows happen this weekend December 6-8, 2013 at the PETA Theater Center.
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