View From The Wings

View From The Wings
UP COLLEGE OF MUSIC HONORS LATEST NATIONAL ARTISTS FOR MUSIC
by Pablo A. Tariman

The University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music is 98 years old this year and for one of its foundation festivities, it will open its faculty concert season with “Ipagdiwang! Tribute Concert to National Artists Ramon P. Santos and Francisco F. Feliciano” on Thursday September 4, 6 p.m. at the UP Abelardo Hall.

UP College of Music Dean Jose Buenconsejo, soprano Alegria Ferrer who directs “Rusalka” and  librarian Lita Estipona  after they received music scores  of Filipino composer Jose Estela from the composer’s granddaughter, Ma. Angeles Teotico.

UP College of Music Dean Jose Buenconsejo, soprano Alegria Ferrer who directs “Rusalka” and librarian Lita Estipona after they received music scores of Filipino composer Jose Estela from the composer’s granddaughter, Ma. Angeles Teotico.

The tribute is both apt and timely even as the country is still reeling from the presidential snub of film icon Nora Aunor who was dropped from the list even she got the highest votes for all National Artist nominees finalized by the CCP and the NCCA.

With the formal CCP tribute still hanging in the air, the UP College of Music tribute will give music lovers a chance to appreciate their works in a concert.

The works of the newly proclaimed National Artists will be interpreted by the UP Cherubim and Seraphim to be conducted by Dr. Elena Rivera-Mirano with other artists participating namely guitarists Lester Demetillo and Nathan Manimtim, AILM Chorale and AUIT under Mary Katherine Trangco and Eudenice Palaruan, UP Rondalla Ensemble, sopranos Bianca Camille Lopez and Jade Rubis Riccio with pianist Albert Roldan, and UP Dance Company with choreography by Steve Villaruz, which will be restaged by Herbert Alvarez for the event. UP Dance Company is under the direction of Angel Baguilat and partially consists of dancers Sarah Maria Samaniego, Angella Betina Carlos,?Michael Barry Que, Minette Caryl Masa. The UP Composers of New Music (CONEMUS) and Department of Musicology’s Tugtugang Musika Asyatika (TUGMA) will complete the tribute.

Other National Artists with UP connections include Antonio Molina, Antonino Buenaventura, Lucio San Pedro, Felipe de Leon, Andrea Veneracion, Jovita Fuentes and Jose Maceda.

In the same vein, the University of the Philippines virtually undid the presidential snub by giving the prestigious Gawad Plaridel to Nora Aunor Wednesday last week.

Both born in 1941 – Santos in Pasig and Feliciano in Morong, Rizal – the new National Artists should open the eyes of music lovers that there is life and excitement outside conventional classical music and far more challenge listening to contemporary music.

Composer Francisco Feliciano: visible as CCP conductor but with substantial body of works to reckon with.

Composer Francisco Feliciano: visible as CCP conductor but with substantial body of works to reckon with.

Feliciano enrolled at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule and obtained a diploma in music composition at the Hochchule der Kunste in Berlin and received his Doctor in Musical Arts from Yale.

On the other hand, Santos earned his doctorate degrees from Indiana University and State University of New York. But he didn’t specialize on the likes of Samuel Barbers and George Gershwin.

Instead, Santos explored the aesthetic frameworks of Philippine and Southeast Asian artistic traditions and came up with versatile uses of the country’s indigenous instruments.

While he respected the country’s Western musical heritage, he spent a lifetime in field studies of Philippine traditional music such as the musical repertoires of the Ibaloi, the Mansaka, Bontoc, Yakan and Boholano.

Santos’s work was last heard at the CCP as part of the ballet music for Daragang Magayon mounted by provincial government of Albay under Gov. Joey Salceda.

National Artist for Music Ramon Santos  with Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and poet Abdon Balde, Jr. during the staging of “Daragang Magayon” last year.

National Artist for Music Ramon Santos with Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and poet Abdon Balde, Jr. during the staging of “Daragang Magayon” last year.

In the early 80s, Feliciano’s grand entrance in Manila’s music world was his opera, “La

Loba Negra” with libretto by soprano Fides Cuyugan Asencio. Directed by film icon, Peque Gallaga, the music for the Feliciano opera was one of the few times when contemporary music ruled Manila’s opera scene inundated by the works of Verdi and Puccini.

While it is true that Feliciano was only visible to the country’s music audiences during his stint as conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, it is equally true that as composer, he has body of works the country can be proud of.

Other music treat from the UP College of Music include Dvorak’s Rusalka which will run at the CCP September 11 and 12 and at the UP Abelardo Hall on September 23 and 24, 2014.

Directed by Alegria Ferrer with a chamber orchestra led by Josefino Toledo and with sets and lighting design by Dan Silvestre and David Ohm, the opera features sopranos Fame Flores and Bianca Camille Lopez who will alternate in the lead role of Rusalka.

The most interesting feature of the opera is that it was adapted to a Filipino setting during the time of Iabelo de los Reyes (1864-1938). An illustrado of the late 19th to early 20th century, de los Reyes documented narratives of living Philippine folk beliefs and practices.

The Rusalka aria, “Song to the Moon” was given wide exposure in Manila when filmmakers Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes used it in their acclaimed film, “Sonata” starring Cherie Gil as the retired diva.

For inquiries on the tribute to Feliciano and Santos including the Manila run of “Rusalka,” please call 926-0026 or 981-8500 local 2639.

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