Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs) Bloggers’ Conference

Erik Santos

At a time when reality talent competition are becoming a dime a dozen, it’s getting a lot tougher for the winners both past and present to survive this cut throat music industry. One of the early winners of this kind of competition, Erik Santos has not only managed to survive in the recording industry but has established himself as one of the country’s leading male vocalists. In celebration of his ten years in the industry, Erik has released The Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs) as his first treat to his fans. He recently had a bloggers’ conference held at Max’s Restaurant to talk about this album and his upcoming projects in commemoration of his 10th year anniversary in the business.

The Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs) released by Star Records is a 30 track compilation of Erik’ previous recordings that had been used in as many movie and tv series. The tracks have all been digitally remastered giving the listener a seamless listening experience of Erik’s songs throughout the years starting from the first ever original song he has recorded Pagbigyang Muli (from Maria la del Barrio) up to the album’s current single Muling Buksan ang Puso which is the theme song of the tv series of the same name. And this compilation is very reasonably priced as it only costs the same as a single disc album which makes this album a nice treat to longtime fans and a perfect introductory package to new listeners.

This album just kicks off Erik’s celebration of his first decade in the industry. He will soon embark on a US tour this August and September and will wrap things up with a major concert at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) this November 9, 2013. Erik will also release another album of new material featuring a new sound from him.

When Erik was asked how he wants to establish himself in the industry, he said once again that he wanted to be considered as an icon like his idols Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano. And when he was asked what he wants to accomplish as a singer, he responded that he wants to record a track with Sarah Geronimo and Regine Velasquez. He said that while he has performed live together with these two women, he hasn’t recorded anything with them yet.

Erik also expressed his appreciation to his fans who had been supporting him for 10 years. He even mentioned being touched by those with physical disabilities who still traveled from afar just to see him perform. And it’s for them that he continues to record, perform and do his best. He believes that it’s this connection and rapport with his audience, along with showmanship, singing from the heart and being a complete package as the key for his decade long success.

The release of The Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs) is just the start and there are still more to come as Erik continues celebrating his 10 years in the business. I’ve seen Erik perform many times like at his PowER IKons concert and act on stage at Disney’s The Little Mermaid, it will be interesting for me to see what he comes up in the next few months especially the upcoming album that will feature a new sound from him.

Erik Santos’ The Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs) released by Star Records is now available in record stores nationwide. Muling Buksan ang Puso and the rest of the tracks are also available digitally via MyMusicStore Philippines and at iTunes.

The Erik Santos Collection (Timeless Movie and TV Themesongs)

Disc 1
1. Muling Buksan Ang Puso
2. You Are My Song
3. If You Asked Me To
4. Suddenly It's Magic
5. Iisa Pa Lamang
6. Di Lang Ikaw
7. Ikaw
8. Paano Ba Ang Magmahal
9. Pagbigyang Muli
10. I Will Never Leave You
11. Kulang Ako Kung Wala Ka
12. Sana Ikaw
13. Hindi Na Magbabago
14. Sapagkat Ang Diyos Ay Pag-Ibig
15. Miss You Like Crazy

Disc 2
1. If I Just Believed
2. Kung Akin Ang Mundo
3. Lupa
4. May Bukas Pa
5. My Love Is Here
6. Say You'll Never Go
7. Muntik Na Kitang Minahal
8. I'll Never Go
9. May Minamahal
10. Your Love
11. Maging Sino Ka Man
12. Here I Am
13. Magpahanggang Wakas
14. Now That I Have You
15. It Might Be You

Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Hands at the Opera

Pianists Antonella Vitelli and Luciano Bellini

Luciano Bellini, piano
Antonella Vitelli, piano

Gaetano Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor
Giuseppe Verdi
     Romance sans paroles
     La Traviata
Gioachino Rossini Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Giacomo Puccini Tosca
Giuseppe Verdi
     Waltz in F major
     Overture from La Forza del Destino

My exposure to the opera for the past year and half finally paid off. My growing knowledge of this form of live entertainment and its vast repertoire was very much responsible for my appreciation of the recent Four Hands at the Opera held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). This concert, featuring the Italian piano duo of Luciano Bellini and Antonella Vitelli gave the spotlight to four Italian opera composers especially Giuseppe Verdi who is celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of his birth this year.

If not for my recent opera exploits, I would be so lost during most of the concert where the piano duo played Bellini’s arrangements of various fantasies taken from works by Gaetano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioachino Rossini and Giacomo Puccini. My familiarity with the arias made it a lot easier for me to appreciate not just the music but also the transcriptions and the performances as well.

It was indeed very interesting and enlightening to hear how Bellini transcribed the music which was originally intended for vocalists accompanied by an orchestra. With four hands and one piano, it is possible to have 20 notes played at once. But the arrangement managed to retain the levels and it made the vocal lines float while maintaining the orchestral textures and colors even if there was just one piano. It wasn’t easy to fall into reverie and imagine the actually opera in my head.

Luciano Bellini and Antonella Vitelli at the cocktail reception

Highlights of the performances for me were the Spargi d’amaro pianto from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti which is a song I usually associate with French singer Mado Robin. Hearing Bellini and Antonelli play the opening notes of the overture from Verdi’s La Traviata made me reminisce at CCP’s production of it. And if I’m not mistaken, Bellini opted to have the music arranged in a chronological manner. I regretted once again missing Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini when I heard Largo al factotum and Una voce poco fa. And it always pleases me whenever I hear Puccini, so I was delighted to hear Vissi d’arte and E Lucevan la stelle from Tosca.

Since this concert was also a tribute to Verdi, Bellini also played two solo piano pieces by Verdi that are rarely performed. The Romance sans paroles and Waltz in F major are two short pieces that served as interludes in between the fantasies and while not that technically demanding, these two pieces could be nice pieces for some pianists to learn. To cap the concert, the duo performed Verdi’s Overture from La Forza del Destino. For their encore, they played a Bellini composition entitled Corteo dai Carpazi al Pireo which took music from the Carpathian mountains in Central/Eastern Europe down to Piraeus, the port city in Greece. I was able to hear Zorba the Greek music which is the Pireo part but I wasn’t able to grasp what kind of music the Carpazi represented.

After the concert, audience members and guests were able to interact with Luciano Bellini and Antonella Vitelli during the cocktail reception at the CCP’s Silangan Hall. As much as I want to watch what I eat, the gelato served there was too tempting and I just had to indulge myself. I was hoping to meet at last the new Italian Ambassador, Massimo Roscigno during that night but he wasn’t present. Instead, it was Alfonso Tagliafferi, the Italian Embassy’s First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission who delivered the opening remarks at the concert.

Alfonso Tagliaferri, RAd and Nino Quartana

The Four Hands at the Opera was presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine-Italian AssociationRustan’s, the Embassy of Italy, in cooperation with the Peninsula Manila, and Ralph’s Wines & Spirits and was staged for the benefit of the PIA Endowment Fund.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Little Singers of Monaco at the Sky Dome

The Little Singers of Monaco

The performers were the Little Singers of Monaco, a 28 member boy’s choir made up of 10-18 year olds with all but five singing with soprano voices. But judging by the screams that filled the Sky Dome at SM City North EDSA, one might think that it was teen heartthrob Justin Bieber or K-pop idol Lee Min Ho who performed there instead. Never had I imagined seeing once again musicians (and a boy’s choir at that) with a classical repertoire treated like pop/rock stars.

The choir led by its director Pierre Debat was recently in the country for a series of performances. I was able to catch the one at the SM City North EDSA which was the first of their mall performances a few days after they made their Philippine debut at the FEU Auditorium.

The "Men" section of the Little Singers of Monaco

I was a bit uneasy at first when I saw a sea of high school students who still in their uniforms inside Sky Dome as I entered. Based on past experiences, high school students have the tendency to be a rather difficult audience especially in performances like this. I knew that the choir had to have a commanding performance for them to capture this kind of audience’s attention.

The audience responded with polite applause when the choir performed the first few songs which were by composers from the Baroque era like Nicolas Bernier, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and Johann Sebastian Bach. I guess that most of them shared my indifference with Baroque music which is hardly material for a grand opening of a concert. But the audience did eventually warm up as the music went to the Romantic era and beyond with songs by Felix Mendelssohn, Jacques Offenbach, Gabriel Fauré, Charles Hubert Parry, and Engelbert Humperdink along with contemporary composers like Philippe Mazé and Sally DeFord. Allan Velli, was the featured soloist in many of these songs.

But it was the folk songs from Monaco that really got the audience mesmerized especially the song Suta u magiu. Nicholas Theux did vocal leaps in this song that had the audience applauding after each and every chorus. The rest of the songs were mostly upbeat, with simple and hummable tunes, thus enabling the audience to appreciate the performances more. And by the time that the choir was in the home stretch with the French songs, the audience already had their undivided attention. Choir director Pierre Debat asked the audience to join the choir in singing L'hymne à l'amour and I was very surprised to hear people who knew it and sang along for I didn’t. And when the group sang their last song, Les Champs-Elysées, the choir didn’t need to persuade the audience to clap to the beat since the audience themselves started to do so once they got the hang of the rhythm.

Director Pierre Debat

So it was no surprise that the high school kids responded with such glee when it was announced that they would be able to take their photos with the Little Singers of Monaco after the concert. I was astonished to see how the boys were treated like teen idols which I didn’t expect at all. A beaming Fortune Ledesma, Consul General of the Principality of Monaco looked very pleased not just by the audience turnout but by the response as well.

Goofing around to PSY's Gentleman

After the concert, I was able to spend some time with the singers. While signing their names at the poster and tarpaulin inside the Sky Dome, some gamely danced to PSY’s Gentleman which was being played inside. That was surprising for me to know that this Korean sensation has reached Monaco as well. Afterwards, I was able to join the choir and the rest of their entourage for dinner over at Burgoo. During this time, I was reminded that these boys were still teenagers, prone to goofing around and acting like kids which majority still are. It always interests me to see how artists and musicians behave off the stage which is usually very different from their demeanor while performing on stage.

The Philippine tour of the Little Singers of Monaco is sponsored by the Consulate General of Monaco headed by Consul General Fortune Ledesma together with SinagTala Management for Filipino Performing Artists and its executive director Martin Lopez in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, Manila Pavilion Hotel, Ayala Malls, SM Malls and DZFE 98.7 FM, the official media partner.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ateneo ENTABLADO stages Dennis Marasigan’s Ang Buhay ay Pelikula

August 13-16, 2013, 7:30 PM
August 17, 2013, 3:00 & 7:30 PM

August 20-23, 2013, 7:30 PM
August 24, 2013, 3:00 & 7:30 PM

August 27-30, 2013, 7:30 PM
August 31, 2013, 3:00 & 7:30 PM
Rizal Mini Theater, G/F Faber Hall
Ateneo de Manila University
Quezon City

Ateneo ENTABLADO (ENterteynment para sa TAo, Bayan, LAnsangan, at DiyOs), as part of its 31st season entitled Personalan Na!, will stage Dennis Marasigan’s 1989 Palanca Award-winning play Ang Buhay ay Pelikula this coming August 2013.

Directed by Jethro Tenorio, Ang Buhay ay Pelikula serves to parallel real life situations with how the Philippine industry works as a system. The play illustrates a world beyond the lenses of the camera - a reality of how and why the cast and crew continue to make a living out of the industry.

The play revolves on the dilemma of the movie producer who is portrayed in a role of a mother. In producing a movie, she has to make a choice between film aesthetics and practicality because many are depending on her and on the industry for their welfare. Principles are tested in a battle between producing art and generating income among the characters that exist behind the scenes.

Ang Buhay ay Pelikula seeks to define which truly the better choice is, considering all other factors that will depend on this decision, such as the value of what a real film should be and the consequences on the relationships of all those involved in producing a motion picture.

The show runs from August 13 to 17, August 20 to 24, and August 27 to 31, every 7 P.M. (and 3 P.M. during Saturdays), at the Rizal Mini Theater, G/F Faber Hall, Ateneo de Manila University.

Ateneo ENTABLADO is the premiere socio-political theater organization in Ateneo de Manila. Check them out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ateneo.entablado  and follow them on Twitter: twitter.com/ateneoENTABLADO.

For inquiries:
Via Cardaño (0926) 552-3319

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Jazz Night with Unit Asia

Koh Mr. Saxman, RAd and Noel Cabangon

Unit Asia
     Isao “Sankichi” Miyoshi, guitar
     Koh Mr. Saxman, saxophone
     Tay Cher Siang, piano
     Shigeki Ippon, bass
     Tomo’o Tsuruya, drums

The Music Museum was indeed the night for jazz music as the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Foundation, Manila, Radio High 105.9 and Yoshinoya presented the Asian jazz group, Unit Asia along with special guest Noel Cabangon in celebration of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month and the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Things looked promising for this concert earlier on for about an hour before the show started, for there were quite a number of people on the waiting list already. The concert was free admission but one had to make prior reservations to avail of tickets. And based on how well events during the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month have been received in previous years, one really had to contact the Japan Foundation as early as possible to secure these tickets.

For those who were fortunate to get in weren’t disappointed as Unit Asia, made up of Isao “Sankichi” Miyoshi (guitar), Koh Mr. Saxman (saxophone), Tay Cher Siang (piano), Shigeki Ippon (bass) and Tomo’o Tsuruya (drums) put on a show that people would pay good money for to watch. Just right after the second song, New Blues, that had each member performing solos and doing some wicked improvisation, the audience was already at the palm of group’s hands. Despite accents that were difficult for Filipino ears to understand, Miyoshi and Mr. Saxman were able to pump up the crowd as the group’s frontmen. The concert also provided a change of pace when the group played a couple of pianist Tay Cher Siang’s compositions namely Elephant Vanishes and The Sea Outside My Window. The group’s special guest for the night was Filipino singer Noel Cabangon. Known for his rock, folk and socially relevant songs, Noel also showed that he had some jazz in him as well. With an acoustic guitar in tow, Noel performed Bulag, Pipi at Bingi, Tinamaan Mo and Children of Tomorrow while being backed up by Unit Asia. Noel Cabangon also went back on stage to join the band for two encores which was Pumapatak ang Ulan and Tomorrow Love Song by Miyoshi.

Japan Foundation, Manila Director Shuji Takatori
and Noel Cabangon

Aside from the amazing music, the lighting design was also one of the impressive things about this concert. The musical highlights, modulations and player solos were emphasized, given more weight and excitement through the impeccably timed light spectacle. So this concert turned out not only as a musical treat but also as a visual treat for everyone inside the Music Museum.

I missed Unit Asia’s performance last year so I was only too happy that they came back and that I was able to catch them this time. Since their latest performance here was such a huge hit, I wouldn’t be surprised if they come back again very soon.

Metropolitan in Opera HD: Maria Stuarda

Gaetano Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, the latest Metropolitan Opera production that was screened in high definition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines was my most highly anticipated among the operas offered for this season. This anticipation stemmed from my fascination with history, royal intrigue and fantasy novel series like The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire made this opera about Mary, Queen of Scots and the events that led to her execution by Queen Elizabeth I, a can’t miss.

This particular production directed by David McVicar tried to show the contrast between the two rival queens. Elza van den Heever’s Queen Elizabeth I was a burly, rough and crude monarch. Despite her thick makeup, she never looked nor acted regal. On the other hand, Joyce DiDonato’s Mary was refined, classy and was clearly portrayed as a martyr.  Vocally, Elza van den Heever had a rough start with her opening aria not as precise, crisp and clean as I expected coming from a coloratura. But Joyce DiDonato was phenomenal vocal and acting wise. I heard people at my back already sniffing just before the Deh! Tu di un'umile preghiera in Act II was performed.

In the opera, the two queens weren’t just rivals for the crown, but also for the heart of Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester which was played by Matthew Polenzani. He also played the role of Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore, and again he didn’t impress me that much. But I think that it’s because DiDonato had an exceptional performance that it became hard for the rest of the cast to match it. Other cast members in this production were Matthew Rose who played George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, Joshua Hopkins who played William Cecil, Lord Burghley and Maria Zifchak, playing Jane Kennedy. Maurizio Benini led the orchestra in this production.

What really interested me tremendously in this opera was realizing how the religious tension affected the composition of this opera. It clearly came from a Catholic’s point of view since Donizetti is an Italian. So, it was no surprise that Queen Elizabeth I came out as the villain even though she was just probably protecting her domain. But this staging by McVicar had her acting like a buffoon and not like a royal. I wish that she should’ve been portrayed similarly to Mary so that one couldn’t determine who among the two women is right.

The final screening of the Metropolitan Opera in HD series for this season will be Thomas Adès’ The Tempest to be shown in August 20, 2013 at 2:00 & 7:00 PM at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). This production will be of note as well since it is a 21st century composition unlike the previous offerings which are already centuries old.

Flutopia: A Flute Celebration at the CCP Gala Concert

Flutist Jin Ta

Jin Ta, flute
Hercules Santiago, flute
Gary Silangcruz, flute
Olivier Ochanine, flute
Kiko Candelaria, flute
Marie Poblete, flute
David Jerome Johnson, flute
Lin Shumei, piano
Rommel Cruz, bass
Gian Vergel, drums

Francis Poulenc Sonata for Flute and Piano
Claude Bolling Baroque and Blue from Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio
Giulio Briccialdi Flute Quartet in A major
Friedrich Kuhlau Flute Quartet in E minor, Op. 103
Astor Piazzolla Oblivion
Paul Taffanel Fantasy on Themes from Der Freischütz

For someone like me who isn’t very familiar with the flute repertoire, the Flutopia: A Flute Celebration at the CCP provided a great opportunity for me to acquaint myself with the instrument. For two days, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ was bustling with various activities highlighting the flute that included free mini-concerts, exhibits, flute repair services, masterclasses and workshops. But the main highlight of the two day festival was definitely the Gala Concert held at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) that featured Jin Ta, principal flutist of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and also pianist Lin Shumei.

Pianist Lin Shumei

I only got to know the concert programme only a few hours before the performance started, so I really had no idea what to expect from the pieces that they’ve prepared. The concert started with Jin Ta and Lin Shumei performing Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, which is what I expected from this concert: a sonata featuring the flute while accompanied by the piano. But the following piece provided a bit of a surprise. The two, now joined by bassist Rommel Cruz and drummer Gian Vergel performed Claude Bolling’s Baroque and Blue from Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio which was a delight to hear. An all too familiar flute passage opened the piece and then was followed by a cool jamming by the jazz piano trio before joining forces. I started to wonder why I hadn’t been aware of this piece of music in the first place.

The two flute quartets that followed also served as an introduction for me of this chamber music setup. The first quartet was composed by Jin Ta, Hercules Santiago, Gary Silangcruz, and Olivier Ochanine playing Giulio Briccialdi Flute Quartet in A major while the second quartet had Kiko Candelaria, Marie Poblete, and David Jerome Johnson, joining Jin Ta in performing Friedrich Kuhlau’s Flute Quartet in E minor, Op. 103. I noticed that all the flutists in both quartets used the standard flute. I wondered how having the same flutes would sound since I half expected seeing a piccolo and perhaps an alto flute in the mix. Remarkably, listening to flute quartet music proved not too challenging for me. I liked how most of the melody/top line played by flute 1 was paralleled (mostly in thirds) by flute 2 while the other two either provided a counterpoint or long, sustained low notes. It was indeed like listening to multiple birds chirping in perfect harmony.

Flutist Olivier Ochanine

In Astor Piazzola’s Oblivion (featuring the same musicians who did the Bolling piece) provided a dramatic moment in the concert which was a nice contrast to the Bolling that they did earlier. But the truly virtuosic piece was the one that ended the concert, Paul Taffanel’s Fantasy on Themes from Der Freischütz. I am not familiar at all with Der Freischütz so I feared that I wouldn’t be able to grasp the themes in this piece. Thankfully, I didn’t need to be familiar with it to appreciate Jin Ta handling it with such mastery. I was very impressed towards the end when he maintained a clear melodic line amid a flurry of ascending and descending arpeggios. For a single voiced instrument, Jin Ta was able to create multiple layers as if there was another flutist playing with him. For an encore, Jin Ta and Lin Shumei presented a Filipino piece, Lagi Kitang Naaalala by Levi Celerio. It may not be a showstopper like the Taffanel but it was an exquisite way to end the night.

Marimbist Aimee Mina-De la Cruz

I do think that I’ve learned a lot about the flute during the Gala Concert for the show presented a very varied repertoire compared to the usual recitals that I’ve been too. And for those who still didn’t get enough of the flute, they should not fret for a flute concerto is coming soon courtesy of the opening performance for the new concert season of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

MSO II: The Trumpet Calls

Trumpeter Manu Mellaerts and the Manila Symphony Orchestra

Manu Mellaerts, trumpet
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Thanos Adamopoulos, conductor

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385 Haffner
Johann Nepomuk Hummel Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, S. 49
Franz Schubert Symphony No. 9 in C major D. 944 Great

The Color Your World 2013-2014 Concert Season of the Manila Symphony Orchestra resumed with the orchestra’s second performance, The Trumpet Calls at the Santiago Francisco Hall. Along with guest conductor Thanos Adamopoulos and trumpeter Manu Mellaerts, the orchestra presented a programme featuring pieces by Mozart, Hummel and Schubert that called to mind the era when royalty and nobility still were a moving force at the old world.

The concert started regally with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385. This work is also known as the Haffner Symphony since Mozart was commissioned to write it by the Haffners, when Sigmund Haffner was ennobled. In true classical Mozart fashion, the music was energetic, bold but still retaining that crisp and light quality characteristic of the Classical era. The same could be said with the following piece which was Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, S. 49 featuring Manu Mellaerts. This piece was composed by Hummel for Anton Weidinger, court trumpeter to Prince Anton Esterhazy which is in keeping with the royal/noble theme of this concert. Mellaerts delivered a performance fit for a royal court, showcasing the capabilities of the trumpet going from loud and robust to gentle and eloquent with such ease. But I’d like to say that the tempo and character of the trumpet concerto and the previous symphony was almost basically the same. And for someone who isn’t well versed with the Classical period (or not too keen with it, like me), it’s hard to distinguish whether a piece was by Mozart or Hummel or Haydn for that matter even though it’s easy to recognize music from that era.

Thanos Adamopoulos and the Manila Symphony Orchestra

And it’s because of my somewhat indifference with the Classical era that got me thrilled with Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major D. 944 also known as the Great to distinguish it with the shorter sixth symphony which is also in C major. This lengthy, noble and serious piece of work from the Romantic period was published and performed some years after Schubert died and only through the efforts of Robert Schumann. Sadly, at that time, this symphony was slow to gain acceptance and acclaim. But now, it is regarded as Schubert’s finest orchestral work. Knowing the story behind the music made me appreciate the MSO’s performance a lot better. Thanos Adamopoulos wielded his baton and brought out from the orchestra not just the energy and vitality of the music but also the greatness that Schumann heard in this piece as well. Despite its length, I enjoyed the Great a lot more than the Haffner. But then again, I prefer Romantic pieces compared to Classical ones.

Sadly, it was during this concert when I started to lament the unavailability of the Philam Life Auditorium which was the MSO’s regular performance venue for the past few years. The acoustics of the Santiago Francisco Hall leaves a lot to be desired and the MSO didn’t sound as brilliant compared to their last performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It’s such a pity that the MSO will have to bear with this venue for the rest of its season since they deserve a much better sounding venue that can give justice to their sound.

This concert by the Manila Symphony Orchestra was presented in cooperation with the Embassy of Belgium. And present during this night was Belgian Ambassador Christian Meerschman and Mrs. Greta Meerschman.

The Color Your World 2013-2014 Concert Season continues with Spectacle featuring violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr. happening this August 10, 2013 at the Santiago Francisco Hall at the BDO Complex.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Was Here… with Audie Gemora

Audie Gemora

People may find it hard to believe but I only really got to know Audie Gemora when he directed Tanghalang Pilipino’s Noli MeTangere, the Musical back in 2011. Although I am aware of who he is and his vast theater experience, I wasn’t that much into the theater scene only until recently, so I missed a lot of his performances throughout the years. Thankfully, his concept concert entitled I Was Here… with Audie Gemora allowed me to catch up with him and his impressive 35 years as one of the big guns in the theater industry.

With the weather cooperating, there was no problem heading over to the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) was packed with mostly people from the tight knit theater community. And it’s this familiarity that made the concert, directed by Jaime del Mundo, such an intimate affair thanks to Audie’s superb rapport with his audience. Accompanying him was a jazz piano trio led by the concert’s music director Rony Fortich. Double bassist Vincent dela Cruz and drummer Karmi Santiago made up the rest of the trio.

One thing that really impressed me about this concert was that it showed what a great storyteller Audie Gemora is. Each of the songs and the entire concert as a whole, told Audie’s story and it didn’t matter if one had been following him since the beginning or just like me, arrived late in the game. His first song, Corner of the Sky from the musical Pippin recalled his beginnings in theater and his last song, Bluebird of Happiness from the upcoming Bluebird: A Magical Musical, gave a glimpse to the future. And everything in between revealed facets of his career that was a joy to discover.

Highlights of the concert for me include the Roles Along the Way Medley that recounted his early days in theater. I am not a huge fan of concerts that are full of medleys but Audie and his team made this work by having it tell a story through the songs included in it. I was also impressed with Sheila Francisco’s heartfelt performance of He Opens a Window which told how Audie welcomed God in his life. Audie also had a chance to poke fun of himself while looking back at his pop music phase via the song Loving You. I find it odd that I can’t remember this song which was released when cassette tapes were still in circulation. He even showed the audience a cassette copy of his album which was still sealed in plastic meaning that it wasn’t sold. Another guest artist in his concert is Sam Concepcion who has grown into a young man. Audie and Sam went back around a decade as they performed Deep Within from the musical The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was when Sam had his musical debut. Possibly, the most anticipated part of the concert was his duet with Regine Velasquez-Alcasid for the song Matimyas Mabuhay sa Sariling Bayan from Noli Me Tangere. This number gave me goose bumps and evoked fond memories of the most recent staging of this musical which as I’ve said before was how I got to know Audie personally in the first place. I also echoed Regine’s desire to have a concert staging of this musical accompanied by an orchestra with a possible reunion of all cast members from various runs. The most touching moment for me in the entire concert was when Audie dedicated the song Fight the Dragons to his son Richard. He said that among all the roles he has played throughout the years, his most favorite is that of his real life role of being a father.

The concert was indeed very entertaining and one that didn’t have to resort to any unnecessary gimmicks and hysterics unlike what I normally see on television. Seeing I Was Here… with Audie Gemora made me feel bad again for missing Nonie Buencamino’s concert weeks before. But I’ll make sure that I won’t miss the last concert of the Triple Threats: Leading Men and Women of Philippine Music Theater series featuring Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo happening this August 15, 2013, 7:30 PM.

Text by RAd
Photo by Karla Gutierrez

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A synergy of the senses for Cinemalaya 9: Cinaesthesia

July 26-August 4, 2013
Various CCP Locations
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

July 27-August 4, 2013
Greenbelt 3 Cinema 3 & 5
Ayala CenterMakati
TriNoma Cinema 1 & 2
TriNoma Mall, Quezon City
Alabang Town Center
Alabang, Muntinlupa

With a hope that the films screened this year will stimulate the audience, resulting in one sensation after another, the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition has adopted the slogan Cinaesthesia, a play on the word cinema and synaesthesia. The synaesthetic experience starts on July 26 up to August 4, 2013 at various locations at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Satellite venues screening the films include Greenbelt 3 at the Ayala Center in Makati, TriNoma Mall in Quezon City and the newest Cinemalaya venue, the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa.

Quite possibly, the Cinemalaya debut of none other than Vilma Santos can cause a stimulation overload among ardent fans of the actress herself, but also among Cinemalaya viewers that make this film festival the most attended event at the CCP. Joining Vilma Santos in increasing the star power of Cinemalaya this year are Eugene Domingo, Gretchen Barretto, Alessandra de Rossi, Jake Cuenca, Lovi Poe and Paulo Avelino among many others.

As always, there will be three competition categories: Short Feature (10 entries), New Breed Full Length Feature (10 entries) and the Directors Showcase (5 entries). When I saw the trailers of the films during the press conference that was held at the CCP Main Theater Lobby, I noticed that a lot of entries had strong sexual themes and content. On the other hand, some entries are centered on stories about children. So the extremes in themes and content might indeed cause the much anticipated Cinaesthesia among film enthusiasts. And when the directors were introduced to the press, I found it very amusing to see how stiff and terrified the short feature directors looked when they were called to the stage. And after the press conference, they were asking directions as to where Tanghalang Manuel Conde (CCP Dream Theater) was. I am pretty sure that halfway through the Cinemalaya, these young filmmakers will be already very comfortable, at ease and enjoying the experience like what I saw from the previous two batches.

It was announced later on, a few days after the press conference that the Cinemalaya 9 opening and closing films will be Jazz in Love and Burgos, respectively. Aside from the films in competition, there will be other films to be screened as well grouped in the following sections: Ani, Cinemalaya Documentaries, Cinemalaya Premieres, Retrospective: Urian’s Best (The Gawad Urian Best Film 2000-2009), and tributes to Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Celso Ad. Castillo and Eddie Romero.  There will also be the two day 2013 Cinemalaya Forum which is a major part of the festival. Other film-related activities happening during the festival include the Philippine Independent Film Makers Multi-purpose Cooperative’s 3rd Manila Film Financing Forum.

Amor y Muerte's Adrian Sebastian, Kuya Manzano, Althea Vega,
Ces Evangelista and Markki Stroem

It will be a Herculean feat for me to view all the films in competition which I accomplished back in 2011. I missed a huge chunk of films last year due to various circumstances and I hope that I’ll be able to make up for it this year.

Cinemalaya is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Econolink Investments, Inc. and Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Short Feature Category

Bakaw by Ron Segismundo
Katapusang Labok (Last Strike) by Aiess Athina Alonso
Missing by Zig Dulay
Onang by JE Tiglao
Para Kay Ama by Relyn Tan
Pukpok by Joaquin Pantaleon, Stephan Domingo and Immanuel Canicosa
Sa Wakas by Nica Santiago
Taya by Adi Bontuyan
The Houseband’s Wife by Paolo O’ Hara
Tutob by Kissza Mari Campano

New Breed Full Length Feature Category

Babagwa (The Spider’s Lair) by Jason Paul Laxamana
David F by Emmanuel Palo
Debosyon by Alvin Yapan
Instant Mommy by Leo Abaya
Nuwebe by Joseph Israel Laban
Purok 7 by Carlo Obispo
Quick Change by Eduardo Roy Jr
Rekorder by Mikhail Red
The Diplomat Hotel by Christopher Ad Castillo
Transit by Hanna Espia

Directors Showcase Category

Gil Portes, Ces Evangelista, Jeffrey Jeturian, Adolfo Alix Jr. and Jerrold Tarog

Amor y Muerte by Ces Evangelista
Ekstra by Jeffrey Jeturian
Sana Dati by Jerrold Tarog
The Liars by Gil Portes
Porno by Adolfo Alix Jr.

For tickets and other inquiries:
CCP Film Office 832-1125 local 1704/05
CCP Box Office at 832-3704

Text by RAd
Photos by Kiko Cabuena
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...