Manila Symphony Orchestra goes from Puccini to Rico Blanco and Coldplay | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

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Italy Ambassador Marco Clemente
Italy Ambassador Marco Clemente talks on Puccini. —PHOTOS BY GEORGE BUID

The Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO), billed as one of Asia’s oldest symphony orchestras, is in a celebratory mood these days, as it is its 98th season, only two years away from its centennial.

This was announced at a press conference at the Jaime Zobel Hall of Circuit Makati, attended by Italy Ambassador Marco Clemente, MSO principal conductor Marlon Chen, associate conductor Jeffrey Solares, and MSO trustees Corazon Alvina and John Silva. It turned out to be a double celebration, for the MSO was also honoring Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s centennial death anniversary.

The MSO is presenting a double bill Puccini opera, “Gianni Schicchi” and “Suor Angelica,” starring baritone Byeong-in Park and soprano Rachelle Gerodias. This will be staged at Hyundai Hall, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. and on March 17 at 4 p.m.

Principal conductor Marlon Chen Manila Symphony Orchestra
Principal conductor Marlon Chen

“These operas may not be the most popular of Puccini operas,” said Clemente. “But they are important and significant.”

The MSO was founded in 1926 by the Associacion Musical de Filipinas, with Alexander Lippay as its first conductor. It has survived initial threats to its existence in the 1920s, World War II (1941–1945), the political upheavals of the 1970s and 1980s, the closure of the Manila Metropolitan Theater in the 1990s and the COVID-19 pandemic, which remains a dormant threat.

“The MSO has not just endured but thrived,” one partisan enthused.

Soprano Rachelle Gerodias-Park Manila Symphony Orchestra
Soprano Rachelle Gerodias-Park

Toast to music

“It’s a yearlong celebration of music and everybody is invited,” declared Chen. “Let’s make music together. The legacy of MSO belongs to the people always.”

The launch turned out to be a mini-concert, with the MSO, under Chen’s lively direction, performing classical as well as popular numbers, later joined by a one-man band which gave out a jovial, youthful tenor (pun not intended) to the musical proceedings.

Manila Symphony Orchestra
Manila Symphony Orchestra

Gerodias sang the intermezzo from Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” and “Sinza Mama” from “Suor Angelica,” while mezzo Bianca Lopez-Aguila performed the beloved aria “O Mio Babbino Caro” from “Gianni Schicchi.” Then the MSO launched into “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay (arranged for orchestra by Mark Wilson Estrada), and “The Rico Blanco Anthem Medley,” arranged for orchestra by Juarde Herradura.

After the March 16–17 performances, the MSO will continue to hold concerts until January 2025: May 2, “Makila in Manila: Sibelius 3 and Dvorak” (Samsung Theater, Circuit Makati); July 27, “Triple Concerto: Ching Completes Mozart and Beethoven 8” (Ayala Museum, Makati City); Aug. 24, “Brahms Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky 6” (RCBC Romulo Auditorium, Makati); Oct. 5, “Beethoven Piano Concerto 3” (Aliw Theater, CCP Complex); and Jan. 25, 2025, “Mahler 5 and Shostakovich” (Samsung Theater, Circuit Makati).

Not content with this, the MSO will undertake a nationwide tour in 2025, all this on “the road to 100,” the centennial year. —contributed INQ

Call tel. 0917-8229763 or Ticket World at 88919999

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