He makes classical music come alive | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Impresario Eddie Yap addressing the audience in his latest sold-out concert “Symphony at the Terrace” at the Manila Polo Club last March 30.
Impresario Eddie Yap addressing the audience in his latest sold-out concert “Symphony at the Terrace” at the Manila Polo Club last March 30.

One can say that Eduardo “Eddie” Yap has done it all, at the very least much more than a man usually accomplishes in a lifetime. In business, that he is a highly successful real estate developer is a given. It is his immersion in consequential civic and cultural advocacies—marked by broad vision, thoroughness and a flair for innovation—that has distinguished his wide-ranging avocational pursuits. He has been productive in influencing public policy on tax, fiscal, social services and public transport reform through his key positions in major professional organizations.

An outstanding example was his role, as chair of the urban development committee of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), in convincing the government to take the first major step in solving the perennial traffic problem in Metro Manila—most evident in the seemingly hopeless daily congestion on Edsa.

Three sopranos (Karla Gutierrez, Camille Lopez, Rachelle Gerodias) at the first grand-scale Christmas concert, “Adeste Fideles,” at the Santuario de San Antonio church, 2007

Identifying one major cause of the problem, Yap presented his out-of-the-box plan for a dedicated busway on the innermost lane of Edsa, in place of the age-old, congestion-causing practice of using the outermost lane for loading and unloading passengers.

His novel proposal was implemented by the Department of Transportation during the window provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this relatively simple initial solution has significantly and noticeably eased traffic on Edsa to this day—to the great relief of the long-suffering commuters on this major artery.

Social advocacy

But in his typical long-range and thorough perspective, Yap insists this is only the initial step, and more measures are needed to get to the level of a true bus rapid transit system used successfully in other countries. Since the government lacks the necessary resources, and probably the sense of urgency to complete the job, Yap continues to push for the privatization of the Edsa busway as the effective long-term solution.

“A Concert with a Flavor of Vienna” at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel’s Rizal ballroom.

Another recent example of Yap’s fruitful social advocacy was in authoring and enabling the unique proposal of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines to be adopted in the subsequent Bayanihan Law, which provided for the desperately needed economic relief (ayuda) for our countrymen greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Focusing his energies on another advocacy close to his heart, he forayed into the live production and presentation of classical music more than a decade ago. In short, he became an impresario—with a difference.

His musical productions are not your run-of-the-mill, traditional concerts consisting of an orchestra, a vocalist or an instrumental soloist performing on a bare stage, designed to cater mainly to music connoisseurs and purists. He has made it a point to appeal to a wider audience by offering live productions with some unique feature—not just “concerts” but theatrical events to remember.

They may have an overriding theme, a strong combination of talented artists, or an interesting mix of dramatized excerpts from opera, traditional and contemporary orchestral pieces, vocal and instrumental solos, multiple chorales, impressive period costumes and sets, choreographed ballroom dances—everything with a flair for the spectacular.

Yap’s first grand-scale production was a Christmas concert titled “Adeste Fideles” at the Santuario de San Antonio church in 2007. With a cast of four choirs, three sopranos, three tenors and a full symphony orchestra, noted concert reviewer Rosalinda Orosa hailed the event as “rousing magnificence,” a trendsetter subsequently followed by other churches.

The unique “Music From the Movies” concert at the Samsung Theater of SM Aura in 2019 was specially memorable. For this, Yap’s winning formula was to highlight the playing of the popular soundtrack themes from Oscar-winning and iconic movies of the past with the simultaneous showing of the most memorable scenes from the films themselves. This concert actually came in two separate events—with each being sold out in record time.

“Music from the Movies” concert at the Samsung Theater of SM Aura.

Dream project

Another notable event in Yap’s musical journey was “A Concert with a Flavor of Vienna” (which he produced as a grand tribute to MAP Management Man of the Year awardees through the decades) held at the Makati Shangri-La’s Rizal Ballroom in 2018. Columnist Alfred Yuson observed: “Trust Eddie Yap to arrange for grand drama…at the heart of the event was the conduct of Viennese waltzes—such as ‘Emperor Waltz,’ ‘Beautiful Blue Danube’ and ‘Viennese Spirit.’”

But this was only a sampling of that evening’s rich program, which included excerpts from the classics such as Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Puccini’s “La Boheme,” and popular contemporary pieces like “The Sound of Music Suite” by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

In an interview in 2021 by Polo Post, the official magazine of Manila Polo Club, of which Yap was a past president, he was asked what his dream project at the club was. His answer: “A musical concert with symphony orchestra, vocalists and choir at the East Terrace.”

This became a reality—so far the most spectacular in Yap’s musical journey—last March 30. Its billing spoke for itself: “Symphony at the Terrace—In the Tradition of Grand Arena-style Concerts in Europe.” The concert was sold out long before the actual event, and it didn’t disappoint.

“Nessun Dorma,” grand finale of “Symphony at the Terrace,” featuring tenor Nomher Nival and ensemble

From the enormous, canopied and specially built stage, the audience was treated to warmly applauded performances from a meticulously curated program—dramatized scenes from the most famous operas of Verdi, Bizet and Puccini, choreographed waltzes of Johann Strauss, renditions of large orchestral pieces of Von Suppe, Borodin, Beethoven. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra provided the instrumental accompaniment and the Quorista choir the vocal harmony for the grand choral numbers.

The soloists were a virtual who’s who of classical music artists: sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Bianca Lopez Aguila; tenors Arman Ferrer, Nomher Nival and baritone-tenor Park Beong-in; violinist Princess Christine Ybañez; and ballerina Abigail Lynn Oliveiro.

The climax of the evening was the ensemble’s stirring rendition of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s immortal opera “Turandot.”

After almost two decades and some 20 concerts under his belt in creatively promoting classical music to Filipino audiences, in musical terms, we have so far only been treated to the overture of Yap’s continuing advocacy. We can confidently expect him to take his cultural magnum opus to the next level without missing a beat.

—Contributed INQ
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