Children instrumental ensembles gear up for third New York concert | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

COMPOSITE ensembles, with conductor Lois Espinosa
COMPOSITE ensembles, with conductor Lois Espinosa

The Philippine Montessori Center Instrumental Ensemble (PMCIE) and the Temple Hill International School Music Ensemble (Thisme), together with the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and with the special participation of marimba player Thristan “Tum-Tum” U. Mendoza, gave a rousing farewell concert at Meralco Theater recently.


On May 28, the groups will give matinee and gala performances at Merkin Hall in New York City.


Since 2008, this is the third time the two children instrumental ensembles were invited by Amper Concert and Recording Productions Inc., called the “Musical Voice of Filipinos in America.”


Headed by Filipino guitarist-composer Michael Dadap (artistic director of New York’s Children’s Orchestra Society), Amper presents remarkable Filipino artists to an international audience through recordings and performances.


The children ensembles and The Madz will perform under the banner “Pinoys to the World: A Celebration of Filipino Musical Artistry.” The ensembles will also participate in the celebration of Philippine Independence Day on June 12.




The farewell concert at Meralco was held in celebration of two other milestones: the 45th founding anniversary of the Philippine Montessori Center (PMC), the school of PMCIE instrumentalists; and the 25th anniversary of the Mithing Pangarap Educational Foundation (MPEFI), an outreach program established and funded by PMC.


MPEFI is at Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila, and provides educational and livelihood programs to children and youth who are taught to be self-reliant and productive individuals. Part of the proceeds of the concert will go to MPEFI.


Iluminada G. Woellhaf, directress of PMC and its affiliate school, Temple Hill International School, expressed her “gratitude to all who believe, support and commit to the Montessori education.” She also acknowledged the children’s parents for their hard work and dedication to make the New York trip a reality.


Indeed, it was heartening to see the children’s families, relatives, friends and guests who came in droves to witness the children’s exquisite artistry.


It is a marvel to see these children spend time to play on their chosen instruments and hone their artistic talents rather than tinker on modern gadgets, stressed Tim Yap, who hosted the auction on donated prizes to beef up the children’s travel fund.


Backstage, Yap said the children’s mobile phones were turned off as they concentrated on their music.


In the pit, a proud parent, Nick Laconico, provided the voiceover announcement.


New instrument


Tum-Tum on marimba

On stage, both groups stunned their audience as they played classical and Philippine music, and collaborated with The Madz in a medley of Philippine songs. The classical pieces were practically all new. The children showed proficiency in playing a new instrument such as the mandolin, which, indeed, was a welcome addition to the ensemble.


The players performed with élan, keeping the tradition of excellent playing intact.


PMCIE is composed of pre-schoolchildren age 4-6 who attend PMC. They are: Aanya Agarwal, Elisha Victoria Alcantara, Francesca Claudia Aquino, Margarita Isabelle TY Cham, Tatiana Alexi Cruz, Audrey Michelle Cua, Natalie Kraut, Marie Helene Lizares, Alexandra Madison Chua Norbert, Santino Enrico Reyes, Gian Elise Rocero and Angelline Vincent Tecson.


Thisme is the elementary level counterpart of PMC. Its members are: Jillian Triana Bautista, Justine Therese Bautista, Annika Budhrani, Alexandra Beatrice Cruz, Jaime Lorenzo Cruz, Xinia Jia Ji, Tara Victoria Laconico, Katrina Lorenzana, Michaela Marie Manotoc, Lia Nanca, Gabriel Joseph Payumo, Juliana Grace Payumo and Isabella Louise Singson.


Flawless playing


With teacher Lois M. Espinosa conducting, the children played without music sheets. Committing all the notes to memory and playing them flawlessly was simply fantastic!


The children also impressed the audience as they changed one anklung (a bamboo instrument) from the other, and still managed to keep the beat!


They essayed classical pieces such as works by Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart, Kbalevsky and Khachaturian, with fidelity to stylistic nuance. The dynamics were starkly contrasted, phrasing well articulated, and intonation well kept.


In the Philippine folk songs, they collaborated in tight rapport with The Madz alumni group, and wowed the audience with familiar tunes, which some hummed.


A highlight of the program was Tum-Tum’s playing on the marimba. An alumnus of PMC, Tum-Tum went to the school when he was barely four years old. A special child, he found his world in music, and is now a bachelor’s degree-holder of music from UP where he majored in Percussion.


He impressed the audience with his virtuoso rendition of Monti’s “Czardas” and Korsakov’s “Bumble Bee.” Well-projected, his tones were suave, well-caressed and legate. With a broad sweep, he intoned his pieces flawlessly to the delight of the crowd.


The concert flowed with ease. On the wings and pit were the teachers who ensured the tight flow of the production. They deserve commendation as well.


They are: Catherine Z. Zulueta, who provided collaboration on the piano, Garche Tura Crodua, Lois M. Espinosa, Cecile P. Salcedo, and Jay Ian de la Cruz, who alternated in conducting the children.


We congratulate the children and the entire artistic staff and wish them all the luck in their New York concert.

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