George Yang’s Klassikal Music Foundation (KMF) scholars brought out the magical charm of Broadway music in a full-capacity concert at Philamlife Theater recently.
The concert was impressive, as the 22 scholars shifted from the usual operatic fare they used to present in the past to the light but equally engaging music of Broadway.
Broadway songs come in many forms—vocal solo, choral and instrumental—and their renditions have found their way to the Tin Pan Alley and become popular.
Adding glitter to the presentation was the participation of the grand benefactor himself, tenor George T. Yang, soprano Maria Rachelle Gerodias and pianist Raul Sunico.
Sunico opened the program with a symphonic rendition on the piano of excerpts from “The Phantom of the Opera” which served as veritable overture. Immediately, one felt the allure of Broadway tugging at the heart. The melodic strains familiar, catchy and easy to follow.
The scholars took turns in rendering more familiar ditties in solo and ensemble numbers. They also took turns in introducing the next numbers, providing appropriate information for the full appreciation of the audience.
The scholars were Belford King Mabunga, Barrely Espina, Bernadette Mamauag, Micah Galang, Christian Nagano, Cipriano de Guzman Jr., Fay Dee Reyes, Fame Flores, Elijah John Marquez, Glenn Richard Nagulla, Jillbert Chua, Jade Rubis Riccio, Jhomerita Chua-So, Joseph John Pitas, Kimberly Longkino, Kenneth Kyle Rarama, Karla Villanueva, Leo Angelo Lanuza, Marie Anne Dominese, Ma. Rachelle Maano, Maria Gereberne Lozada, Ruth Escrupolo, Rowell Cruz, Rosette Marie Aguinir, Vincent Olandesca, Vidagrace Khalil Mirang, Veronica Mhaie Cruz and Stephanie Anne Aguilar.
Collaborating pianist was Farley Asuncion, who sensitively essayed buoyant tones.
Whiff of nostalgia
Gems from Broadway musicals made up the program such as Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”; Jerry Bock’s “The Fiddler on the Roof;” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor;” Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeny Todd,” “Into the Woods” and “Send in the Clowns”; plus a bouquet of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs.
Baritone Andrew Fernando was artistic director; Richardson Yadao, choreographer; and Rowell Beronio, light designer. Their collaboration ensured a free-flowing production, minimalist yet highly entertaining.
Gerodias essayed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” from “Sunset Boulevard,” this time singing as a real Broadway trouper. She eloquently shifted her placement from the dome to middle and lower depths, richly coloring her voice to bring out eloquently the earthiness of the song.
A whiff of nostalgia hovered, and some listeners could not help but sing familiar songs as the scholars rendered them, especially in “West Side Story” and the Rogers-and-Hammerstein numbers. Some were even misty-eyed listening and humming along with the singers in “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Ensemble renditions were equally engaging as in the Jets songs (“West Side Story”) rendered by the men; “Matchmaker” (“The Fiddler on the Roof”) rendered by the women.
More ensemble singing was combed in “Joseph’s Coat” and “Children Will Listen” (“Into the Woods”).
Integrity marked George Yang’s rendition of Edward Knoblauch’s “Stranger in Paradise.” The natural sheen of his voice was made more likable by a keen musicality with which he brushed his song.
Above all, the sincerity of his delivery culled from the keen understanding of what he was singing fully engaged one’s listening. This time, Sunico was back on the piano striking solid rapport with the singer.
It was certainly a grand moment of singing as Yang was joined by his scholars in Jerome Kern’s moving original duo “Make-Believe,” bringing out the eternal note of hope that makes life tick in the midst of harsh realities—all for the listeners’ momentous enjoyment.
Certainly Yang has become the symbol of hope for these many scholars, whose lives he has touched with his unalloyed sense of generosity. They would not have had the golden opportunity to hone their God-given vocal talent without Yang’s all-out support.
Truly, his big sense of patronage has infused life to vocal music. This is borne out of his honest commitment to give back, to share his passion, as he said in his message, and to the many blessings the Almighty had and continues to shower on him, including the passion for singing.
May his tribe increase!