EU-PH relations celebrated in choral fest | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

EU Ambassador Luc Veron -contributed photos
EU Ambassador Luc Veron -contributed photos
EU Ambassador Luc Veron -contributed photos

Sixty years of bilateral relations between the European Union (EU), a political ally and a cultural partner of the Philippines, came to the fore recently in a grand choral fest aptly named “Sounds of Celebration.” The event was held at the Robert C. Sy Grand Ballroom of the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

“We aimed to honor this milestone by having a day of musical celebration that evoked a sense of reunion and nostalgia,” said a local EU partisan. Key officials present during the gathering were Luc Véron, ambassador of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo Jose De Vega and UST secretary general Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P.

The seven participating choirs and their conductors were: Minstrels Rhythm of Hope (led by Anthony Go Villanueva), Himig Roseña (Jarzinha Ines), UST Chorus of Arts and Letters (Nathaniel Morada), Los Cantantes de Manila (Darwin Vargas), St. Scholastica’s Academy Marikina Glee Club (Danilo Monte, Jr.), Wesleyan University Philippines Chamber Singers (Nathanael Arnel A. De Pano) and Rizal Technological University (RTU) Himig Rizalia (Renier Aguilar).

A noncompeting guest choir was the celebrated UST Singers, two-time “Choir of the World,” led by Fidel G. Calalang Jr.

Folk songs, traditional melodies, time-tested love songs, indigenous chants, hymns familiar and unfamiliar and songs from EU member countries were the order of the day. Each of the seven choirs rendered two songs, a Filipino number, and then a song from EU, the title translated into English.

The Minstrels Rhythm of Hope, an all-woman choir caparisoned in red, got things going with the Ilocano folk song “Pamulinawen,” rendered in a bouncy, upbeat manner, then turned serious with Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.”

Himig Roseña, another all-woman group, cut loose with Ben & Ben’s “Sabel” and then switched to a lullaby, perhaps a Christmas song (“Who Is Sleeping in Thy Tiny Cradle”). The UST Chorus of Arts and Letters, a mixed choir this time, made thing livelier with bongo drums and choreography (stomping of feet) with the native “Salidumay” and the Bravura “The Reaper.”

Los Cantantes de Manila, the men in black and the women in white, sang the Visayan favorite “Rosas Pandan,” a comic love song, balanced by the more serious “Petrus” from Germany.

Minstrels Rhythm of Hope is given the Ambassador’s Choice Award
Minstrels Rhythm of Hope is given the Ambassador’s Choice Award


The UST Singers were the highlight of the second part of the program, and they interpreted not just two but four numbers, with bongo drums and all. These included the religious hymn “Gloria,” “One Day More” (from “Les Miserables”) and “Learning to Let Go.” Musical director Calalang was at the piano, and he allowed the choir members to let go, to let down their hair, so to speak.

The St. Scholastica’s Academy Marikina Glee Club performed with verve. The Wesleyan University Philippines Chamber Singers sang Restie Umali’s “Saan Ka Man Naroroon,” a love song which for some reason is always sang in funerals. Their second number was the Italian “Volare” (To Fly), popularized by Dean Martin way back during the 1950s.

Los Cantantes de Manila receives the EU-Philippines Award
Los Cantantes de Manila receives the EU-Philippines Award

The RTU Himig Rizalia closed the celebration with another choir favorite, the indigenous “Chua-ay” followed by “The Beautiful Star.” The choristers were attired in fetching native costumes, a clash of colors and cultures, you might say. And conductor Aguilar himself was dressed a la tribal chic.Los Cantantes de Manila received the EU-Philippines Award, while the Minstrels Rhythm of Hope was given the Ambassador’s Choice Award. It was a friendly competition, of course, and the conductors of the rest of the choirs were given citations which could serve as awards for participating. It was a fitting finale to a choral concert that, for scale, may not be replicated for some years to come.

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