“We all grew up with marching bands, which were a signal that festivities were about to start,” recalls Chris Millado, vice president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). “And what better way to promote the musical arts than though marching bands, which were the first to bring Philippine music to the international concert scene?”
Millado spoke during the press launch of Ihudyat! (Attention), a festival of leading Philippine marching bands to be staged on March 25, at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Amphitheater.
The festival is a production of the UP Vanguard Makati Chapter; UP Diliman office for initiatives for culture and the arts, and the CCP.
The launch was held at Barbara’s Restaurant in historic Intramuros, Manila. A guest band, the Pandacan Community Band led by Marito Panganiban, played familiar Filipino folk songs.
“The Philippine Constabulary Band performed during the St. Louis, Missouri Exposition in 1904 and received rave reviews from the Americans, who couldn’t believe that Filipinos could play Western symphonies with such dexterity and excellence,” Millado said.
Participating bands will come from the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Marines; as well as the Citizenship’ Brigade Band of Dasmariñas, Cavite; and the Imus Youth Symphonic Band.
Repertoire includes works by National Artists Antonino Buenaventura and Lucio San Pedro. To be performed are Buenaventura’s “Pandango sa Ilaw” and San Pedro’s “Lahing Kayumanggi;” the latter is the concert piece.
Many of the compositions are martial in spirit, but will cover other genres.
Organizers said one competition component will focus on field marching (showmanship), while a second component will zero in on concert musicianship. There will be specialized judging, with each judge focusing on the category of the performance that is his expertise.
“Bands have been a source of pride and have saved many young Filipinos from the drug menace,” said one organizer. “This kind of music adds spice to every Filipino’s life.”—CONTRIBUTED