The University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music is 98 years old this year.
For anniversary celebration, it will open its faculty concert season with “Ipagdiwang! Tribute Concert to National Artists Ramon P. Santos and Francisco F. Feliciano,” on Sept. 4, 6 p.m., at the UP Abelardo Hall.
Works of the newly proclaimed National Artists will be interpreted by the UP Cherubim and Seraphim to be conducted by Elena Rivera-Mirano.
Other performers are guitarists Lester Demetillo and Nathan Manimtim; UP Rondalla Ensemble; sopranos Bianca Camille Lopez and Jade Rubis Riccio; pianist Albert Roldan; and UP Dance Company.
The UP Composers of New Music and Tugtugang Musika Asyatika will also perform.
Other National Artists with UP connections include Antonio Molina, Antonino Buenaventura, Lucio San Pedro, Felipe de Leon, Andrea Veneracion, Jovita Fuentes and José Maceda.
Both born in 1941 (Santos in Pasig and Feliciano in Morong, Rizal), the new National Artists should open the eyes of music-lovers to the challenge of listening to contemporary music.
Feliciano enrolled at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule and obtained a diploma in music composition at the Hochchule der Kunste in Berlin and received his Doctor in Musical Arts from Yale.
Santos earned his doctorate degrees from Indiana University and State University of New York.
Santos explored Philippine and Southeast Asian artistic traditions and came up with versatile uses of the country’s indigenous instruments.
While he respected the country’s Western musical heritage, Santos did field studies of Philippine traditional music of the Ibaloi, Mansaka, Bontoc, Yakan and Boholano.
Santos’ work was last heard at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as the music of the ballet theater piece “Daragang Magayon,” mounted by the provincial government of Albay under Gov. Joey Salceda.
In the early 1980s, Feliciano’s grand entrance in the Manila music world was his opera “La Loba Negra,” with libretto by soprano Fides Cuyugan Asencio.
Directed by Peque Gallaga, the Feliciano opera was one of the rare times when contemporary music ruled Manila’s opera scene dominated by the works of Verdi and Puccini.
Feliciano used to be conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
Other music treat from the UP College of Music is Dvorak’s “Rusalka,” which will run at the CCP on Sept. 11-12; and at the UP Abelardo Hall on Sept. 23-24.
Directed by Alegria Ferrer, with a chamber orchestra led by Josefino Toledo and sets and lighting design by Dan Silvestre and David Ohm, the opera features sopranos Fame Flores and Bianca Camille Lopez, who will alternate in the lead role of Rusalka.
The most interesting feature of the opera is that it was adapted to a Filipino setting during the time of Isabelo de los Reyes (1864-1938). An ilustrado of the late 19th to early 20th century, De los Reyes documented narratives of living Philippine folk beliefs and practices.
The “Rusalka” aria “Song to the Moon” was given wide exposure in Manila when filmmakers Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes used it in their acclaimed film “Sonata” starring Cherie Gil as the retired diva.
For inquiries on the shows, call tel. 9260026 or 9818500 local 2639.