Monday, June 30, 2014

Orchestras and bands converge at the CCP in week long festival

July 1-6, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
Cultural Center of the Philippines
CCP Complex
Pasay, Metro Manila

The Cultural Center of the Philippines proudly presents the CCP Orchestra and Band Festival from July 1 to 6, 2014, 7:00 PM at the CCP Main and Little Theaters, as a continuing project of past CCP Festivals to feature the various orchestras and symphonic bands in the country.

Leading the orchestra groups are the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Manila Symphony Orchestra, ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, and the UP Symphony Orchestra. They will be joined by selected bands from around the country, including the Bulacan State University Band, Malindig Institute Band of Marinduque, UST Wind Orchestra, Bukidnon State University Band, St. Louis University Band of Baguio, De la Salle Santiago Zobel Symphonic Band, Kapisanan Banda II of Pulang Buhangin (Sta Maria, Bulacan), Cardona 5, Banda Kabyaw of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga Provincial Band, and the Philbanda Wind Orchestra. They will also be joined for the culminating activities on July 6 by the military bands – Philippine Army Band, Philippine Navy Band, Philippine Air Force Band, Philippine Coast Guard Symphonic Band, and the Presidential Security Guard Band. The opening and closing concerts will be held at the CCP Main Theater while the performances on other days will be held at the CCP Little Theater.

The Orchestra and Band Festival seeks to provide opportunities for the many performing groups that are deserving of the proper exposure. At the same time, the local audiences will be treated to a rich variety of symphonic sounds emanating from the various groups around the country.  

Schedule of performances:

July 1, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Olivier Ochanine, conductor
ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra
Gerard Salonga, conductor     
UST Symphony Orchestra
UP Orchestra

July 2, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Banda 88 Sta. Maria Bulacan
Arnel Jacinto, conductor
Banda Kabyaw
Benedicto De La Peret Jr., conductor
Presidential Security Group Band
Major Xavier Celestial, conductor
Malindig Institute Band
Ernani Pascual, conductor

July 3, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

UP Orchestra
Edna Marcil Martinez, conductor
UST Wind Orchestra
Michael Jacinto, conductor
De La Salle Santiago Zobel Symphonic Band
Nena Chavez,conductor
Linwell Lalic, conductor
St. Louis University Band
Marivic Macaraeg, conductor

July 4, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Cardona 5
Ernani Pascual, conductor
Kapisanan Banda 11 Pulong Buhangin Band
Federico Frayna, conductor
Bukidnon State University Band Jay Haze Sablayan, Conductor
Bulacan State University Symphonic Band Dr. Herminio M. Suarez, conductor

July 5, 2014, 7:00 PM
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)

Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, violin
Tasso Adamopoulos, viola
Thanos Adamopoulos, conductor

July 6, 2014, 7:00 PM

Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater)

Philbanda Wind Orchestra
Philippine Army Band
Philippine Air Force Band
Philippine Navy Band
Philippine Coast Guard Band
Presidential Security Group Band
Cdr. Herminigildo Ranera, conductor
PCGA Major Xavier Celestial PA, conductor
1Lt. Ron Michael Soriao PA, conductor

Ticket prices for CCP Main Theater Performances:
P500 Orchestra Center
P400 Orchestra Side
P300 Balcony I
P200 Balcony II

Ticket prices for CCP Little Theater Performances:
P400 Orchestra Center
P300 Orchestra Side

For inquiries:
CCP Box Office 832-1125, 832-3704
TicketWorld 891-9999

Friday, June 27, 2014

PPO IV: Fukumura, Wang & Saint-Saëns

Conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura and cellist Ray Wang

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 welcomed returning guest conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura from Japan in the orchestra’s concert entitled Fukumura, Wang & Saint-Saëns held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Fukumura, one of the very entertaining guest conductors in recent years was joined by cellist Ray Wang in this concert that had lots of character.

The concert started with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 which is not one of the most memorable among the composer’s nine symphonies. For me, Beethoven’s even numbered symphonies, with the exception of the sixth, somehow pale in comparison with the odd numbered ones. But Fukumura, remarkably, was able to enliven this piece up especially during the third movement scherzo. This movement is notable as it was in this symphony that Beethoven forever broke away from the usual minuet that has been the norm for third movements since the days of Haydn.

Next up was Camille Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 featuring cellist Ray Wang. It pleased me that this concerto straddled right in the middle for it was not as depressingly dramatic as Elgar and not as syrupy cheerful as Haydn. The piece started with just the briefest of introduction before the cello boldly asserts itself through arresting, furious triplets that were handled deftly by Wang. The one continuous movement instead of the typical three with pauses in between might’ve left an impression on others that this was a very long piece. But for me, it just breezed by, and before I knew it, Wang was already making his bows.

The second half with Manuel de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos elevated the concert several notches higher. The Spanish dances were really brought to life by the exuberant conducting of Fukumura. One wouldn’t suspect that he wasn’t physically on top form during that night (he was even in pain) but his performance at the podium didn’t betray any hint of discomfort from him. In hindsight, it was only his unusual gait entering the stage (at one point he looked like he almost tripped) was his only misstep throughout that night. The Spanish flavor proved to be a huge hit among the audience and Fukumura gave more of that during the encore which was the Intermedio from the zarzwela La boda de Luis Alonso by Gerónimo Giménez.

During his previous guest conducting stint for the Fukumura Conducts Brahms cocnert, Fukumura disappointed concert goers who wanted to see him after the performance. Thankfully, he and Wang came to the lobby this time and both were showered with praise and congratulations by the very satisfied audience.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hit musical Rak of Aegis returns

June 20-August 31, 2014
PETA Theater Center
No. 5 Meynard Drive, New Manila
Quezon CityPhilippines

Earlier this year, Philipine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) musical Rak of Aegis had a stellar run despite going head to head with a big budgeted, wicked musical by a foreign touring company. So it’s no surprise that the very Filipino story featuring love triangles, long shot dreams, and natural calamities told through the music of legendary rock band Aegis returns for a longer run from June 20 up to August 31, 2014 at the PETA PHINMA Theater to start PETA's 47th Theater Season.

The cast of Rak of Aegis

Returning to reprise their roles are Aicelle Santos playing the lead role Aileen, the young woman from Villa Venezia who dreams of becoming a YouTube sensation; real life couple Isay Alvarez-Seña and Robert Seña, playing Mary Jane and Kiel whose romantic past resurfaces amid the flood that has blanketed their subdivision. Returning cast members include Kalila Aguilos, Kakai Bautista, Neomi Gonzales, Jerald Napoles, Pepe Herrera, Myke Salomon, Poppert Bernadas, Nor Domingo, Julienne Mendoza, Ron Alfonso, Phillip Palmos, Gold Villar, Gimbey Dela Cruz, Jet Barrun, Paeng Sudayan, Carlon Matobato, and John Moran. 

Arnel Ignacio, Isay Alvarez-Seña and Aicelle Santos

Rak of Aegis’ rerun welcomes new cast members Kimverlie Molina (a vocal power house whose timbre is very much in keeping with Aegis' vocalists) as Aileen, Oj Mariano as Kiel, Arnel Ignacio as Fernan, and Jimmy Marquez as Jewel, while choreographer Gio Gahol and Abigail Sulit join the ensemble. Rak of Aegis’ creative team is composed of director Maribel Legarda, playwright Liza Magtoto, and musical director Myke Salomon.

I had the opportunity to catch the musical on its initial run. The story is indeed very Filipino, reminiscent of the guilty pleasure comedy films of the 1990’s, complete with musical production numbers. Aicelle proved that her Katy! stint was no beginner’s luck as she delivered yet another solid performance. Robert and Isay, with their decades of theater experience, showed great chemistry playing former lovers. One of the most unexpected surprises in the musical was scene stealer Jerald Napoles who played Tolits, one of Aileen’s suitors. Another actor who also almost stole the show with a gender bending "duet" was Philip Palmos as Jewel.

There were times when I thought that the tension was broken especially when the scene shifted the other characters’ respective storylines. It smacked right to my impatience when I couldn’t wait much longer to see how certain plot lines would be resolved (like with whom Aileen end up with) but had to go through to see how Kenny (Poppert Bernadas) would earn the approval of his mother Mary Jane.

Aegis band members join the cast in a post show interview

Undoubtedly, the real star of the show was the music of Aegis. And it was a treat to be in the performance where the band Aegis was in attendance. It was like watching two shows at once, seeing the actual musical and trying to catch the reaction of the band members especially during the musical numbers. And the band members were very pleased by what they saw since they were usually the first to applaud whenever they recognized which of their songs were being played. Finally, the band made a special encore performance right after the curtain call which only cemented their status as one of the music acts that have made a significant impact in the Philippine music industry. I was very pleased to learn that Aegis CD’s on sale were flying off the shelves after every show which meant that people do want to relive more of the show afterwards. And now, people have more chances to experience (or experience again) Rak of Aegis as the show returns for almost 70 performances for their second run.

For inquiries:
PETA Theater Center 725-6244 local 23, (0916) 437-6551,
TicketWorld 891-9999

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Viva Verdi 1813-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert

Viva Verdi 1913-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert participants
Photo by Kiko Cabuena

Gian Luca Pasolini, tenor
Alvaro Lozano, baritone
Rachelle Gerodias, soprano
Margarita Giannelli, soprano
Nenen Espina, soprano
Thea Perez, soprano
Andrew Fernando, baritone
Ronan Ferrer, tenor
Coro Tomasino
Ballet Philippines
Manila Symphony Orchestra
Ruggero Barbieri, conductor

Celebrations for Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birth anniversary had a fitting finish in the Philippines with Viva Verdi 1913-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The event, presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Italy, featured collaborations between Italian and Filipino artists led by Italian conductor Ruggero Barbieri, who for the first time conducted the Manila Symphony Orchestra. This tandem provided the live music accompaniment for the singers on stage that included tenor Gian Luca Pasolini and baritone Alvaro Lozano from Italy. The Italians were joined on stage by local talents that included sopranos Rachelle Gerodias, Margarita Giannelli, Nenen Espina and Thea Perez, baritone Andrew Fernando, and tenor Ronan Ferrer. Coro Tomasino acted out as the chorus while members of Ballet Philippines provided the dancing. Actor/writer/director Jaime del Mundo wa the evening’s narrator providing useful background information prior to the performance of Verdi’s masterpieces.

But the concert didn’t start out with Verdi’s music. In solidarity with those affected by the super typhoon Yolanda, the evening started with the orchestra playing Air on the G String (August Wilhelmj's arrangement of the second movement Air of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068) while images of the devastation were projected on screen.

After this, it was all business with Verdi. Some of the numbers were trips back to memory lane like Rachelle Gerodias’ reprisal of Violetta and Andrew Fernando’s Giorgio Germont in La Traviata. It was my first time to see and hear live performances from Rigoletto and Aida, both of which had their Metropolitan Opera productions screened some months before. I was really grateful that Jaime del Mundo was on hand or else I’d be completely lost as to what La Forza del Destino and Il Trovatore was all about.

The soloists were top notch with Rachelle Gerodias and Andrew Fernando’s ever reliable performances gave me the opportunity to relax and enjoy most of the night. This concert also gave me a chance to see Ronan Ferrer, Thea Perez and Nenen Espina perform in a featured capacity. Obviously, the audience was curious to see and hear how the Italian guest singers would fare. Tenor Gian Luca Pasolini had some fun showing off by doing some passages while laid down on a bench. On the other hand, Alvaro Lozano, was an imposing presence on stage that supported his equally imposing baritone. But the biggest surprise for many during that night was soprano Margarita Giannelli who wowed everyone with her rendition of Ritorna vicnitor from Aida. I still wonder up to this day why she didn’t do, O patria mia, a more emotional and difficult aria instead.

Alas, the praises I gave for the soloists could not be said for the chorus. Their rendition of Va, pensiero from Nabucco failed to convey the emotions that stirred the Italians to consider this song as their unofficial national anthem. The chorus also seemed a bit lost during the Triumphal March in Aida but I hardly blame them for this since there was supposed to be a dance number by Ballet Philippines during this part. The scene was hardly triumphant as the chorus was left uncomfortably looking at the projected images on stage instead and the audience wondering if there was something else that was supposed to be happening instead. Ballet Philippines’ minimal participation was left to the Zingarelle e Matadori in La Traviata which was the exact choreography from CCP’s production of the said opera.

This production was indeed very intriguing since there seemed to be a lot more stuff that happened behind the scenes like Ballet Philippines’ minimal participation. The Requiem portion was also scrapped but I think that having the Air on the G string tribute piece meant that Requiem had to go, or the chorus was already up to their necks with all that they had to do with the very little preparation time that this entire production had. But most intriguing of all was Alexander Cortez being the director of the whole affair for it was originally announced that Floy Quintos would be at the helm.

Anyways, the Embassy of Italy, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine-Italian Association, and Rustan's were able to pull off Viva Verdi 1913-2013 Bicentennial Gala Concert and it was still a great success judging by the happy faces of the many people at the lobby after the concert. But I never imagined all the headache and the drama (that completely dissolved away with the audience’s applause) that goes into putting up a show like this. I guess it’s all very fitting considering this is how Giuseppe Verdi’s operas are, full of drama whether it’s on or off the stage.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Parisii String Quartet celebrates 30th anniversary with Manila performance

June 10, 2014, 8:00 PM
IMAX Theatre
SM Aura Premier, Taguig

Parisii String Quartet
     Arnaud Vallin, violin
     Doriane Gable, violin
     Dominique Lobet, viola
     Jean-Philippe Martignoni, cello

The Alliance française de Manille and SM Aura Premier with the support of the Embassy of France present Parisii String Quartet in Concert this June 10, 2014, 8:00 PM at the IMAX Theatre located at the fourth level of the SM Aura Premier.

The Parisii String Quartet, which is on tour in celebration of their 30th anniversary, is composed of violinists Arnaud Vallin and Doriane Gable, violist Dominique Lobet, and cellist Jean-Philippe Martignoni. For their concert in Manila, the quartet will perform pieces by Philip Glass, Luigi Boccehrini, Franz Joseph Haydn, Anton Webern, Robert Schumann, Régis Campo, Claude Debussy and Franz Schubert.

Formed in 1983 by four lauded graduates of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, the Parisii String Quartet won early acclaim with its triumphs at three major international competitions: Banff in 1986, Munich in1987, and Evian in 1987. Invitations followed from the major concert halls and festivals all over the world, and the Parisii has since toured regularly throughout Europe, the United States, East Asia, South America, as well as Africa. Much in demand in Paris, the Parisii performed the entire Haydn cycle at the Opéra Bastille, performed the Beethoven cycle at the Salle Gaveau, and has appeared frequently at the Musée d’Orsay.

Known for promoting contemporary music, the quartet has commissioned dozens of pieces over the years. Just recently, the Quartet premiered in 2013 the 5th string quartet, entitled Fata Morgana, by the renowned French composer Régis Campo. In 2000, the musicians made the first-ever recording of the complete works of Pierre Boulez in Le livre pour quatuor, which Deutsche Grammophon republished in 2013.

Noted for its performances of distinctive and wide ranging repertoire of the l8th, l9th, 20th and 21st centuries, Parisii String Quartet has distinguished itself with award-winning recordings of works by French composers as Menu, Pierné, Tailleferre, and Reynaldo Hahn, as well as the complete works for string quartet by Anton Webern.

Parisii String Quartet in Concert is organized by the Alliance française de Manille and SM Aura Premier, with the support of the Embassy of France to the Philippines and our official media partners, Solar News Channel, BusinessWorld, High Life,, and Travelife Magazine. This event is part of the yearly French cultural program, FrancoPhil, with events that include the Superpoze Live in Manila, Silence, on tourne ! by the Pockemon Crew, the 19th French Film Festival, Fête de la Musique and the Tête d’enfant Modern Circus performance.

Ticket prices:
P500 Orchestra
P400 Balcony
-20% discount for AFM students and AFM members and groups of at least 20 persons

For inquiries:
Sabrina Durand, AFM Cultural Coordinator 895-7585, 895-7441,
SM Tickets 470-2222
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