Everybody can join a choir but not everyone will be able to develop his/her musicality.”
This is just one of many sayings of the late National Artist Andrea O. Veneracion which that Anthony Carpio, choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, remembers.
He spoke at a recent press conference at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to announce the Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Festival, to be held at the CCP Aug. 7-10.
The choral festival is a tribute to Veneracion, who founded the Madz (as the Madrigal Singers are informally known), which has since become the most-awarded choir in Asia. The Madz is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The choral festival, supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), is the sixth international choralfest to be staged in the CCP but it is the first international choral competition in the country. Festival director is Melissa V. Mantaring of the CCP.
There will be 19 competing choirs, national as well as international, and one guest choir from Indonesia. The Filipino choirs will come from Manila, Quezon City, Makati City; Los Baños, Laguna; Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Davao City.
The foreign choirs are from Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea.
The judges are Gary Graden of Sweden, Michael Barrett of South Africa; Eric Banks of the United States; Oscar Escalada and the lone Filipino juror, Carpio.
The competition categories are Folk Music, Chamber Choir and Vocal Ensemble.
“The Chamber category is the most difficult,” said Mantaring. “Here you have a Baroque, Romantic, and a 20th-century competition, plus a concert piece that all have to learn.”
During the press con, Carpio said three or four singers left the Madz every year and moved on, and the replacements came from a pool of trainees.
“They have an idea of what it takes to sing in the choir,” he said. “So it is not difficult for them.”
Another advice from Veneracion to the Madrigals was “to listen to other choirs, because you learn a lot by listening to other choirs and their music.” And also, you develop technique, Carpio recalled the mentor saying.
Before a major concert here or abroad, the Madz founder would become strict with the singers.
“Mabusisi (meticulous),” Carpio said. “With one page and 12 bars she would not stop, uulit-ulitin (repeat and repeat) until we were comfortable with the music.”
He concluded: “We learned so much from Professor Veneracion, more than the usual singing. She was our mother, mentor, friend, especially when we were abroad.”