The last two weeks had performing artists doing their share to alleviate the plight of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivors.
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra music director Olivier Ochanine sounded off musicians on Facebook about playing for evacuees at Villamor Air Base.
The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under Rodel Colmenar performed for free on hotel lobbies and resorts to gather donations from music-lovers.
On Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m., the Manila Symphony Orchestra with Santuario de San José Parish will present “Music for Christ: A Christmas Festival,” featuring the works of Bach, Vivaldi and Handel along with the sacred music of Ryan Cayabyab and Ariel Arambulo. The featured soloists are soprano Margarita Giannelli and violinist Chino Soberano.
This concert will benefit relief efforts for Yolanda survivors and the Casa Marello Home for the Aged Priests of Oblates of St. Joseph, the holy order in charge of Santuario de San José Parish.
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, pianist Cecile Licad is the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under Gerard Salonga. Other featured artists in this special fundraising concert at the Rockwell Tent are Lea Salonga and Martin Nievera.
Tenor Arthur Espiritu and wife Christina drove all the way to Llorente, Eastern Samar, with their truck full of relief goods, surviving land and sea travel for a total of four days.
A survivor of Hurricane “Katrina” himself, Espiritu was in for a big shock on seeing the extent of the devastation on Samar island.
From Samar, Espiritu was back in Manila as soloist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at Ayala Museum.
With the air of death and devastation all over the country, this Rossini Mass was just what everybody needed to reconnect once more with their spiritual side.
With pianists Najib Ismail and Farley Asuncion on two pianos and with an extra keyboard player, the Rossini Mass gradually enchanted, with the choir provided by Viva Voce. This Mass couldn’t possibly fail with excellent soloists such as tenor Espiritu, soprano Margarita Guannelli, soprano Camille Lopez Molina (in contralto part) and baritone Noel Azcona.
The Kyrie and Gloria sections set the tone for the Mass, which is far from petite and solemn. If you set aside the religious text and just concentrate on the music, you will feel like hearing scenes from a regular Rossini opera with all its wit and delicacy.
Espiritu was astounding in the “Domine Deus” solo. Guannelli had lovely lines and dramatic impetus in “Crucifixus” and “O Salutaris.” Azcona came in strong, well-entrenched, if pompous, in the “Quoniam” solo.
Azcona, however, blended beautifully in the well-sung terzetto with Molina and Espiritu.
Molina, doing the contralto part, hid her dramatic sound to highlight her mezzo qualities which were very revealing. She took everyone’s breath away in her “Agnes Dei” finale with the Viva Voce.
The collaborating pianists did very well with Ismail rendering a well-nuanced Preludio Religioso part.
The conductor, Gids Bendicion, brought out the best in the soloists and chorus.
One must say they all deserved that spontaneous standing ovation at the Ayala Museum.
Our condolences to the family of conductor Agrifino “Nonoy” Diestro who passed away recently.
Also to the family of ballet teacher Inday Gaston Mañosa who has moved on as well.
For tickets to the MSO concert on Dec. 12, call 8919999 or the MSO office at 5235712. For tickets to the Cecile Licad-ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra fundraising concert on Dec. 11, call Wil or Charmaine at 0939-3030551.