1st Malacañang concert blends the classic with the unfamiliar | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Anya Lagman conducts the Philippine Madrigal Singers and Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet. —PHOTOS BY SHERARD YU
Anya Lagman conducts the Philippine Madrigal Singers and Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet. —PHOTOS BY SHERARD YU
Anya Lagman conducts the Philippine Madrigal Singers and Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet. —PHOTOS BY SHERARD YU


I t was an evening of Philippine music, delectable, the familiar blending with the unfamiliar, the traditional with the modern. Along the patio, a woman violinist regaled the visitors still lingering outside. And inside, a male pianist played the classic compositions of Abelardo and Santiago, dear to the hearts of mature Filipino concertgoers, before switching to OPM.

Champagne flowed, along with red and white wine; I opted for champagne. “The Night They Invented Champagne!”—golden oldies will recognize that song from the film musical “Gigi” starring Leslie Caron and Louis Jordan.

The dinner menu was a gourmet’s delight, not that I can lay claim to being one, with my Jollibee-Chowking-McDo-R&B “New York style” pizza budget. The appetizer just melted in your mouth: pan-seared foie gras on ensaymada toast, with poached figs and marinated red grapes. This was followed by pako salad with kesong puti, tomatoes, candied pili nuts in Palawan honey, calamansi vinaigrette.

The soup was real cool (I mean hot), free-range chicken tinola with spinach, and the piece de resistance was lapu-lapu Manileña in lemon butter sauce, followed by US Angus beef, tender and succulent, and short ribs kaldereta; this was served with sweet potato mash and Baguio harvest vegetables.

And the dessert was chocnut with mangoes.

The venue was the opulent, Art Nouveau Goldenberg Mansion on Gen. Solano Street, Manila, and the event was “Pagsibol” (Growth), the first musical concert of Malacañang Heritage Tours. The star of the evening was Anya Lagman, a musical artist from Manila who is based in Los Angeles, a composer, conductor and multi- instrumentalist.

Soprano Carla Gueverra-Laforteza
Soprano Carla Gueverra-Laforteza



She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and has performed in Asia, North America and Europe. Her music strikes one as, well, New Music, modern and experimental, as against the lyrical and romantic spirit of traditional Philippine music.

The other performers were soprano Carla Guevarra-Laforteza, the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet (MPO) and the Philippine Madrigal Singers.

Lagman played the piano, and conducted.

The concert began with an overture, “The Night Garden,” composed by the artist and played by her on the piano. This was followed by “Anak,” the monster hit song by Freddie Aguilar (“translated into 27 languages,” as the announcer reminded the audience), and performed by the MPO Quartet in a soothing, classical style, without the angst which permeated the original.

Composer-conductor Anya Lagman (right), with her mother Charmaine
Composer-conductor Anya Lagman (right), with her mother Charmaine


“Unravel,” composed by Lagman, performed by the MPO and conducted by the artist, was marked by agitated passages, in keeping with the theme. “Mundo” (IV of Spades) and “Narda” (Kamikazee) were sprightly, spirited compositions, with the latter having a measured, syncopated beat.

Laforteza did full justice to “Together We Build,” a Lagman song with the composer at the piano and the MPO Quartet as collaborating artists. “Balikbayan” and “I Am Mother” were rendered by the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the latter song dedicated to OFWs, especially mothers.

“Umagang Kay Ganda” (Butch Montserrat, 1975, popularized by Ray-an Fuentes and Tillie Moreno) brought the concert to a fitting conclusion. As the announcer aptly put it, “It is a song filled with optimism, a reminder to us to cherish each day.” —CONTRIBUTED


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