Tuesday, February 24, 2015

RAd's Pasinaya 2015 Experience

It may surprise a lot of people to find out that prior to this year, I haven’t been to the Pasinaya, the open house festival of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I always reasoned out that I already know the resident companies by heart and I’ve regularly watched their presentations throughout the year so there’s no need for me to go. What finally made me decide to come out and experience Pasinaya for the first time is to see firsthand the attendees, especially those who have never been to the CCP before. I thought that it would be fun and interesting to join in all the frenzy that is the Pasinaya. For my initial experience, I decided to stick to the music performances that happened at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) which was designated as the Music Zone.

UST Symphony Orchestra

I arrived at the CCP complex just as the pre-show at Pedro Bukaneg Road was winding down before giving way to the opening ceremonies presided by the festival director Chris Millado. Once they started letting people in, I headed over to the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) to check out the UST Symphony Orchestra’s performance. The orchestra opened up their set with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture in A major, Op. 96 which is part of their lineup in their upcoming Reunion concert on March 15, 2015, 8:00 PM at the CCP Main Theater. Being the earliest performers, it felt to me that with the exception of the impressive clarinet solo, the USTSO was still half asleep with their Shostakovich. But  their next two numbers, a medley of love songs and a medley of Bruno Mars tracks, definitely woke them up as the uniformed school kids (probably on a field trip) who filled the theater turned things into a sing-along affair much to my surprise. This was when I realized that this was no ordinary concert: this was the Pasinaya.

Paolo Panagsagan
Danica Antazo

Right after this, I immediately went downstairs to the CCP Little Theater to check out the piano performances of the top NAMCYA Piano Category B winners namely Paolo Panagsagan and Danica Antazo. I felt a bit insulted when a guy right behind me expressed his disappointment that what he came for was just a solo piano performance. I wanted to lecture him then and there that it’s not JUST a piano performance, but it was not the time for that. I just hoped that the performance of the two young pianists was enough to change his perception. Up next was the set dubbed as The Violists Unite featuring a group of professional and amateur violists led by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal violist Joy Allan dela Cruz. They performed mostly a western inspired set capped by Giocahino Rossini's William Tell Overture, arranged for a viola ensemble.

Violists Unite
Kammerchor Manila

It was time for my lunch after this which meant that I have to miss the UP College of Music Voice Majors and the Preview of Graduation Recitals by the Philippine High School for the Arts Scholars. I was back though to see chamber music performances by the Outstanding Grade 9 Students of the PHSA and the Clarion Chamber Ensemble. I failed to take note of the names of the PHSA students but I’ll definitely hear more of them a few years from now. The Clarion Chamber Ensemble set was one of my most highly awaited performances. Flutist David Jerome Johnson explained to the audience that their group constantly changes (either a duet, trio, quartet, quintet, etc.) and that for that afternoon, they will be a nonet playing Josef Rheinberger’s Nonet in E flat major, Op. 139. He made it a point to remind everyone of their upcoming The Bold, the Brash, and the Beautiful concert happening on March 22, 2015, 6:00 PM at the CCP Little Theater. Thank goodness that this was just a teaser for an over eager toddler seated right behind my back kept on shouting while the performance was ongoing. And he just had to cry and scream when his companions finally decided to bring him out of the theater. I knew that Pasinaya would be different from the usual concerts but I never thought that it would test my patience this way. I just hope that the toddler had the opportunity to drop by the Kids’ Zone at the CCP Library. He would’ve enjoyed whatever they got in store there and his enthusiasm would’ve been most welcomed. My final stop at the Music Zone was Kammerchor Manila’s performance led by their choirmaster Anthony Go Villanueva. They performed a bunch of songs by Ryan Cayabyab. They wrapped things up with a number by a Korean composer accentuated with laughter, screams, wailing and other unusual noises which was very well received to the point that the audience wanted them to perform more. Time was limited for all performing groups but those who want more of Kammerchor Manila has to check out Glorificamus Te happening on March 28, 2015, 7:00 PM at the CCP Main Theater. In this concert, Kammerchor Manila will be joined by two other choirs namely Imusicappella Chamber Choir and Novo Concertante Manila.

Citizen’s Brigade Band of Dasmariñas, Cavite
CEU Folk Dance Troupe

A delay in the CCP Main Theater schedule afforded me the chance to make quick stops to see the Citizen’s Brigade Band of Dasmariñas, Cavite who did multiple sets at Pedro Bukaneg Road throughout the day and CEU Folk Dance Troupe at the CCP Main Theater Ramp. I was able to grab a quick snack at the Eskinita that also hosted a bazaar and several variety shows.

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Then, it was the turn of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the CCP Main Theater. Led by the orchestra’s associate conductor Herminigildo Ranera (principal conductor Olivier Ochanine couldn’t make it due to a medical leave), the PPO started with Pyotr Ilyich’s Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin which was politely received by the audience. Once I recognized the opening bars of the next piece which was Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Oveture, (heard for the second time) I already braced myself for the inevitable applause once the familiar English horn part and the trumpet call kicked in. As expected, there was thunderous applause after this piece. The PPO capped off their set with music from The Pirates of the Carribean film series. I have to admit that it felt awkward taking photos of performances but I just had to since the Pasinaya is one of the rare times when photography is allowed inside the CCP performance venues.

The culminating event of the Pasinaya was the People’s Gala with all of the CCP resident companies performing. But only the PPO, Philippine Ballet Theatre, Tanghalang Pilipino, Ballet Philippines, and the Philippine Madrigal Singers performed Philippine themed numbers. The USTSO, NAMCYA and the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company didn’t participate at the Gala. Since this year’s theme was Pasinaya Grows ASEAN Wings in line with the upcoming ASEAN integration, a special ASEAN themed number was also presented featuring dancers from some ASEAN Performing Arts Market delegates that were later joined by the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Dance Group. The People’s Gala ended with all the performers on stage with the Madz leading the singing of Kulturang Pilipino, Alay sa Mundo (CCP Hymn).

Philippine Madrigal Singers
People's Gala

Having a Pasinaya Fast Pass Baller enabled me to spend some time roaming around various areas while waiting for the next shows to start since those who wear them were given priority access to the performance venues. Those who settled for the regular armbands by paying the suggested minimum donation of P50 had to be more patient since they spent more time lining up. Lines were always long at entrances in all levels of the CCP Main Theater but I never worried that I would not get a seat. On the other hand, the Theater Zone at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater) and the Dance Zone at the Bulwagang Francisca Reyes Aquino (Rehearsal Hall) had very limited seating capacity. The relatively long lines for both venues meant that those who got in line for the show that was just about to start had to accept the possibility of getting cut and remaining in line for the next show instead. Surprisingly, the CCP Little Theater didn’t get filled at all during all those times that I watched there. I’m not sure if people decided to pass it up thinking that the venue’s full already or music performances didn’t appeal to them at all which is rather unfortunate. One thing that I’ve observed was that during the afternoon, the uniformed school kids seen earlier in the morning were no longer around (probably the field trip was over) and a lot more adults (even some senior citizens) were seen instead. I guess that Pasinaya attendees get older as the day progresses.

Vincent de Jesus and Ballet Philippines 2

About an hour after the People’s Gala wrapped up, Ballet Philippines 2 presented Hugot sa Rosas at Studio 1, which was just some steps away from the CCP Main Building. This show featured numbers performed and choreographed by members of Ballet Philippines 2 set to the tracks of Vincent de Jesus’ Songs to Slash Your Wrists By album. Despite the late start and the venue being somehow detached from all the Pasinaya activities earlier in the day, there was still a sizeable crowd who turned up for this presentation which was also part of Fringe Manila.

So my first ever Pasinaya experience had me spending around 14 hours at the CCP Complex which I think is the longest time I’ve ever spent in the area. No wonder I was very exhausted once I got home. It is very likely that I’ll be back again next year although I think that I will be saying goodbye to the Music Zone for the meantime. I guess that it’s time for me to start exploring the other zones and possibly take the museum tours too. Finally, music peeps need not fret for I am not totally abandoning music since I’d definitely be around during the regular concerts as always.

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