One reason the concerts of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) are much fun is that the music director, Yoshikazu Fukumura, often features as soloist an outstanding musician who specializes in a musical instrument other than the usual piano or violin. So last year we had a cellist (Ray Wong), saxophonist (Tots Tolentino) and a guitarist (Eduardo Fernandez).
In a recent concert conducted by Herminigildo Lanera, the soloist was trombonist Ricson Poonin, who interpreted “Trombone Concertino in E Flat” by 19th-century composer Ferdinand David. As an encore, Lanera led the PPO in the opening strains of the tenor warhorse “Nessum Dorma” and then, to everyone’s surprise, sang the first part in a voice which passed muster and finished the piece with his trombone, to resounding applause.
Specially interesting was the opening number, Fr. Manuel Maramba’s “La Naval” symphonic odes, a tribute to the victory of the Spanish-Filipino fleet against Dutch invaders in 1646, attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary: Supplication, The Encounter and Intervention of the Blessed Mother.
On April 13, the spotlight will fall on the handsome trumpeter Raymond de Leon, who will perform Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto.”
The Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) under Arturo Molina ended its season with a bang: Carl Orff’s rousing “Carmina Burana” at The Theatre at Solaire. Its tempo, rhythm and dynamics heightened the fine performances of the young musicians and the choirs, Coro Tomasino (under tenor Ronan Ferrer) and Viva Voce (led by soprano Camille Lopez Molina).
The soloists, however—Rachelle Gerodias, Byeong-in Park and Nomher Niva—were not given much of a chance to shine, considering their brief numbers.
Again, the opening number was attention-calling—“Decada 70” by Alejandro Consolacion II, which developed themes in the pop-folk music of the 1970s: Heber Bartolome’s nationalist “Tayo’y mga Pinoy,” Florante’s “Handog” and “Ay ay Salidumay.”
Excellent actor turned director Jonathan Tadioan (silent “O”) of Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident drama group of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, brought a tongue-in-cheek, comic, deliberate overacting and occasionally sexy approach to “Nang Dalawin si Juan Tamad,” an adaptation by Rody Vera of one of Nick Joaquin’s stories for “groovy kids.”
It was all about a merry ménage à trois among Juan Tamad (Ybes Bagadiong), a flirty Maria Makiling (Manok Nellas) and a macho Mt. Banahaw (Aldo Vencilao). The loveable Juan Tamad is a figure of fun here, and not a role model for the youth.
The buzz this month is Concertus Manila’s mighty “The Lion King” musical, from March 18-May 20 at The Theatre at Solaire (call 09178279856).
For the first time 9 Works Theatrical, known for its excellent musicals in English, mounted a musical in Filipino (in collaboration with junior partner Sandbox Collective), and what a show it was—“Himala” based on the classic Bernal-Lee film, with music by Vincent de Jesus, Jed Balsamo on the piano, and a no-frills, expressionist and in-your-face direction by Ed Lacson Jr.
There were felt performances by stars Aicelle Santos, Bituin Escalante, David Ezra and heartthrob Sandino Martin. Next year another major Filipino musical from 9 Works, perhaps?
The PPO, resident company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and again under Lanera, performed at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for cancer patients, caregivers and medical workers. It played light classics and pop tunes performed in a classical manner that delighted the audience, who need all the help we can give them. This was a regular project of Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, CCP president, even before he joined the CCP.
More on theater
Repertory Philippines’ “prestige project” this year is “Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson, with direction by Joy Virata, the true story of astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt who discovered 2,400 stars during the early 20th century. It is a story about “science that’s mixed with family, good feeling, romance and sadness.” —CONTRIBUTED