“Band culture is prevalent in the provinces and people in the provinces know a lot about classical music,” said Gerard Salonga, conductor of the ABS-CBN Symphony Orchestra, during a recent press conference to announce the Orchestra & Band Festival to be held July 1-6 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Leading the orchestra groups are the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra; Manila Symphony Orchestra; ABS-CBN Orchestra; and University of the Philippines Symphony Orchestra. They will be joined by selected bands from around the country.
During the press launch, the University of Santo Tomas Wind Orchestra led by a youthful Michael Jacinto played Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Procession of Nobles” and “Disney’s Fantillusion” as arranged by Takashi Hoshide.
Herminigildo Ranera, assistant festival director, gave an overview of the event.
The opening and closing concerts will be held at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater), while the performances on other days will take place at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino (Little Theater).
Chris B. Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director, provided a historical perspective to the occasion. He noted that the first Philippine Constabulary Band performed 120 years ago at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
There were 80 members escorted by 300 Philippine Scouts.
“Nobody knew where the Philippines was, but they received rave reviews,” Millado said.
During the open forum, the conductors and musical directors were asked how they motivated the youth to join school bands. “There are lots of different ways,” said Jacinto, speaking from his experience in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. “We expose the students to music, give music lessons and free concerts, and, before you know it, they are asking how they can join the band.”
Major Javier Celestial of the Presidential Security Group Band said schools gave benefits to these young musicians, who considered joining a band “a passport to college.” He added that music was in the blood, citing two children of his, a son and a daughter, whom he taught to play a musical instrument; and also in the environment of a child.
Celestial said band culture could be found almost everywhere (“pareho halos lahat”), but mentioned in particular Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal and Batangas.
Bands who will participate in the festival include the UST Wind Orchestra; Bulacan State University Band; Malindig Institute Band of Marinduque; Bukidnon State University Band; St. Louis University Band of Baguio; De La Salle Santiago Zobel Symphonic Band; Kapisanan Banda II of Pulang Buhangin (Santa Maria, Bulacan); Cardona 5; Banda Kabyaw of Nueva Ecija; Pampanga Provincial Band; and the Philippine Wind Orchestra.
They will be joined on the last day by five military bands: Philippine Army Band; Philippine Navy Band; Philippine Air Force Band; Philippine Coast Guard Symphonic Band; and the Presidential Security Guard Band.