The 48-member Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO) under Jeffrey Solares made history again when they bagged the first prize last July 8 in the 12th edition of Summa Cum Laude Festival in Vienna.
MSJO tied with Jerusalem Hassadna Conservatory String Orchestra.
There was no second place, with the Montreal Suzuki String Orchestra placing third, and with the Nanyang String Orchestra from Singapore coming in fourth.
Conductor Solares attributed their second Vienna conquest to hard work and discipline. “We left no stone unturned to give our best to bring honor to our country,” he said.
The MSJO, which played the last in the competition, performed a program consisting of Mozart’s “Divertimento in D,” Dvorak’s “Scherzo” from “Serenade for Strings,” Nilo Alcala’s “Dayo Dayo Kupita,” Florante/Consolacion’s “Handog” and Castillon/Solares’ “Kruhay.”
Solares added they played more Filipino pieces this year and entirely from memory.
One jury member remarked after MSJO’s performance: “I have seen so many great orchestras perform in this hall, but your orchestra has a different warmth in your sound. Vienna is envious of the Philippines because we don’t have the sea. We can feel the waves of the sea while watching you perform.”
No woodwinds, brass
Pianist Miracle Romano, whose brother Misha was in the string section of the MSJO noted: “They were the only ensemble without woodwinds, brass and percussion. But MSJO came out strong because of how united and harmonious they were.”
Her first time to set foot and listen to a concert at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Romano said the hall was simply majestic. “The acoustics were incredible! Aesthetic-wise, extremely grand with all the golden caryatids surrounding the hall and the enormous chandeliers.”
Los Angeles-based Filipino composer Alcala, whose piece “Dayo Dayo Kupita” was played by the prize-winning ensemble, said in a statement a few hours after the MSJO triumph in Vienna: “I am overjoyed about MSJO’s victory! This is a testament to the quality of music education provided by, and strength of vision of maestro Jeffrey and the MSJO leadership team. Congratulations to these talented and hardworking young artists and cultural ambassadors!”
In the audience providing solid support was Standard Insurance chair Ernesto Echauz, who was also in Vienna last year as MSJO’s main sponsor.
The Filipino youth ensemble participated in the Gala Winners’ concert last July 10, at Vienna Konzerthaus.
MSJO, composed of students aged 10-21 years old from the MSO Music Academy and qualified young string players from all over the Philippines, was formed in 2014 as the youth orchestra project of the Manila Symphony Orchestra Foundation Inc. —CONTRIBUTED