Music ecumenism marks 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

LAS PIÑAS bamboo organ
LAS PIÑAS bamboo organ

An ecumenism of musical genres and styles take center stage in this year’s 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival to be held in St. Joseph Parish Church at Las Piñas, Feb. 23-29.

The festival celebrates the 400th death anniversary of Italian composer Giovanni Gabrieli.

The program features Philippine as well as foreign compositions to be performed by Filipino and international artists.

The bamboo organ was built between 1816 and 1824 under the supervision of the Augustinian Recollect Fr. Diego de la Virgen del Carmen.

The 2012 program was announced in a recent press launch hosted by Gerviz Silverio at the Manila Hotel by a panel chaired by Msgr. Mario Martinez, St. Joseph Church parish priest and president of the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.

Others in the press con were Leo Renier and Eudenice Palaruan, of the program committee; Armando Salarza, artistic director; and Fr. Nicolas Matias Sengson, SVD, composer, theologian and liturgist, whose liturgical work, “Awitan Kristo,” will be performed.

Filipino pride

CONDUCTOR EUDENICE Palaruan, organist Armando Salarza, Msgr. Mario Martinez, Leo Renier and Fr. Nicolas Matias Sengson, SVD

Msgr. Martinez called the bamboo organ the “pride of every Filipino,” even as he appealed for a sustained dissemination of information on the event.

Renier said the bamboo organ was the country’s link to the world’s musical culture. Its popularity, and undoubtedly the patronage of the people, is the main reason why the festival has lasted for the last 37 years.

Salarza introduced the program with Palaruan elaborating it. He said Gabrielli’s works would be performed in a setting the composer had popularized in Venice, where ensembles were made to face each other in performing a concerto. This, he said is in pursuit of the meaning of the word concerto, which means “to face each other as in a fight and reconciliation (playing together).”

The works are “Omnes Gentes,” “Plaudite” and “In Ecclesis,” all scored for the organ requiring two to three organists.

Complementing these works are the choral works of Heinrich Shutz and Sebastian Bach, who learned from Gabrielli’s school of thought.

The weeklong festival opens with an invitational gala night on Feb. 23, which will be followed by a regular run the following day.

Performers are organists Jennifer Pascual (US), Salarza and Gerardo Fajardo; Manu Mellaerts (Belgium), trumpet; Sherla Najera, soprano; Illy Matthew Maniano, counter tenor; Malvin Beethoven Macasaet, tenor; Arjay Viray, baritone; UP Music Education Chorale, Las Piñas Boys Choir and Mens Choir; and the Manila Symphony Orchestra, with Eudenice Palaruan as conductor.

“Concert under the Tree,” a serenade done in the church courtyard, follows on Saturday, Feb. 25, featuring The CompanY, which is gracing the festival for the third time.

The CompanY perked up the conference with their live rendition of the Apo’s “Lumang Tugtugin,” and their signature song “Now that I Have You,” to everyone’s delight.

Pure organ music follows the following day, Sunday, the 26th, where both the bamboo organ and the pipe organ of St. Joseph’ Academy will be played. New York-based Filipina organist Jennifer Pascual will perform a bouquet of organ music from Baroque to contemporary period.

“Awitan Kristo,” a para-liturgy on the Advent and Epiphany of Jesus Christ, takes center stage on Monday, Feb. 27. Fr. Sengson said the work was not as grandiose a work as an opera or oratorio, but a disclosure of simple hymns in praise of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said it was the spirit of ecumenism that moved him to join the festival.


Living out the Gospel can be done through the power of music—this is the new evangelization, in the urban setting, he said. “We are as important as the bamboo organ.”


To be presided by Bishop Jesse Mercado, DD, the performers are Salarza; Fajardo; Renato Lucas, cello; Najera; Macasaet; Viray; Assembly Choir; Imuscapella Choir; Las Piñas Choir, with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, conducted by  Palaruan.

Chamber music concludes the concert on Wednesday, Feb. 29, featuring Gluck’s opera “Orfeo” and Bach’s Branderburg Concerto No. 5; and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra.

Performers are Raphael Leone (Austria), flute; Salarza; Fajardo; Orphej Simic (Austria), violin; Rui Hashiba (Austria), viola; and Minette Padilla (soprano) with the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by pianist Aries Caces.

The festival is made possible through the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc, with the cooperation of both the government and private sectors.

They are NCCA; DOT; Bishop Jesse E. Mercado, DD, and the Diocese of Parañaque; Sen. Manuel and Cynthia Villar; Rep. Mark Villar; Mayor Vergel Aguilar and the City Government of Las Piñas; PAGC; Via Mare Catering Services; San Miguel Brewery; 18 Days Coffee Roasters; Novellino Italian Wines; Diego Cera Organ Builders, Inc.; Menzi Trust Fund, Inc.; OOCL (Philippines), Inc.; Marilag Corp.; Meralco; Evergreen; Banco de Oro; Riguera Realty and Development Corp.; BPI Foundation; Casimiro Development Corp.; EDF Promotions; St. Bernardette Publication; Royal Air Charter Service, Inc.; Duty Free; Col. Pedro Rolan; Southville International School; Dr. Sonny Zulueta; and PNB-Las Piñas.

Call 8200795, 8257190, 0999-508-7838; e-mail bambooorganfoundation; visit