Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Dreams for My Children

Despite a having a busy day hopping from one place to another within the metro, made worse by the uncooperative weather, I still managed to arrive on time despite being wet at the FEU Auditorium in Manila to catch a concert entitled My Dreams for My Children.

This concert featured two very promising violinists: Diomedes Saraza Jr. and Regina Buenaventura. Accompanying them was the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Arturo Molina. Either of these violinists could've carried the whole show by themselves so when a concert featured these two, it should be no surprise that people would flock to the concert hall. And people did arrive at the FEU Auditorium despite the lousy weather and it was a full house with some people standing at the back of the hall.

For this concert, Saraza Jr. played the 1st movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 and Camille Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. But before that the Manila Symphony Orchestra started the concert with their rendition of Antonino Buenaventura's By the Hillside.

For the second half of the concert, it was Buenaventura's turn with another Tchaikovsky piece: Souvenir d'un lieu cher (Memory of a Beloved Place). And then she played the 1st movement of another concerto, Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77. And just like the preceding part, the orchestra performed first a handful of Happy Birthday Variations by Mildred Hill/arr. Peter Heidrich. And the two soloists performed Navarra by Pablo de Sarasate which capped the concert.

The Manila Symphony Orchestra is a competent orchestra and I've heard them play well numerous times. But their sound somewhat felt a bit dry during this night. I guess it had something to do with the less than stellar acoustics of the FEU Auditorium. This place is aesthetically beautiful and full of history but I do hope that they improve the acoustics soon. I wasn't able to fully appreciate the Buenaventura piece because of this. And their Happy Birthday variations was very entertaining especially when I considered the amusing reaction of the audience for the more popular variations presented.

The soloists were impressive and Saraza Jr. earned points for playing two of my favorite pieces in the violin repertoire. Unfortunately, the concerto being limited only to the first movement was not enough. But he did show flair and mastery of technique with his pieces. Buenaventura, on the other hand was more expressive with her Tchaikovsky piece. Again, the Brahms concerto being just the first movement wasn't enough. I guess that this was the compromise for having two great soloists in just one concert. Playing the full concerto would've made the for a much longer show and for some people, it might be too tiresome.

After the concert, I had a blast catching up with a few friends whom I haven't seen for a while. And it helps a lot when cocktails were served. Also, I always take advantage of having the opportunity to have a brief chat with the artists. Thanks once again to Martin Lopez for the invite.

Yamato: Drums of Japan

Yamato Drums of Japan

July is a much awaited month for the numerous fans of Japanese culture in here because of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month. This is the time when the Japan Foundation organizes a handful of events like film screenings, exhibits and concerts all aimed to promote Japanese culture to Filipinos. And as expected, the one event I was able to witness was the one that is music related: a live performance of the Yamato Drums of Japan.

The press release for the group's series of performances stated that they are actually composed of 17 members. But the group that I was able to catch during their performance at the Music Hall at the SM Mall of Asia only featured seven performers: three males and four females. But despite not fielding the entire crew, the Yamato gave a very engaging performance that night. The seven played the traditional wadaiko drums of Japan. And these drums come in different sizes thus having varied pitches. And characteristic of Asian percussion music, it is very dynamic and textured and has more variety compared to the use of percussion in Western music. Despite these drums being traditional, there were moments in the group's hour long performance that was quite edgy and humorous.

One of the guys in particular provided most of the humor especially when he urged the crowd to participate. His comic reactions delighted the crowd and he was no doubt the most popular member of the group judging from the adoring crowd wanting to take photos with him after the show.

My favorite number in the program was when the four women played the shamisen like they were rockstars playing the electric guitar. And this number provided some very much welcomed melodic element amidst all the banging of the drums.

*photo courtesy of Kenzo Machinokokoro

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wifi Body 5 IndepenDance and Gala

Last year, I got my first taste of the Wifi Body Independent Contemporary Dance Festival during its 4th edition. I got dragged into it when my friends decided to watch the IndepenDance performance and they decided to surprise me with it thinking that I would like it.

I did like it since it is always interesting to watch contemporary dance performances since I usually see more variety in it. And I've learned not to set any expectations since getting surprised by the performances is one of the main draws for me.

I managed to catch two main performances held at the CCP Little Theater in this year's 5th edition. I was also able to catch the opening of the photo exhibit by Paolo Bicones and a viewing of the video by Ruelo Lozendo. These were preceded by a short performance by the UP Dance Company of the Bach piano pieces they performed at Greenbelt 5 a week before.

The first show that I was able to watch was the IndepenDance which featured previous winners of the New Choreographers Competition. There were seven dance pieces performed and they were:

Walk with Me
Choreography: Ava Maureen Villanueva
Dancers: Elena Laniog, Vinia Pamplona-Peralta and Ava Maureen Villanueva

Fickle Minded
Choreography: Rhosam Prudenciado Jr.
Dancers: Joanne Cabrega and Rhosam Prudenciado Jr.

Choreography: Zyda Marie Baaya
Dancers: Jairo Ibarrientos, Christian Love Valdez, Philip Sustrina, Gary Gomez, Maynard Baylon, Zyda Marie Abaya

Choreography: Johnny Amar
Dancers: Ava Maureen Villanueva, Alfred Jan Mercado, Rhosam Prudenciado Jr.

Choreography: Gerardo Francisco
Dancer: Kim Mendoza

Choreography: Gerardo Francisco
Dancer: Elpidio Magat

Amidst Wanderings
Choreography: Herbert Alvarez
Dancers: Rhosam Prudenciado Jr., Elena Laniog, Ava Maureen Villanueva

Sloth (seven deadly sins... a sequel)
Choreography: Christine Crame
Dancers: Seven Contemporary Dance Company, Kristoffer Legarde, Christian Love Valdez, Zyda Marie Baaya, Jairo Ibarrientos, Joel Garcia, Mark Lauron, Christine Crame.

The IndepenDance featured dances with sentimental themes which surprised me a bit. Even though I don't set many expectations, I somehow hoped that the pieces were a lot more varied. After this performance, the UP Dance Company performed some sort of dance improv based on children's games of years past at the CCP ramp.

I was then able to catch the Wifi Body Gala that was held on the last night of the festival. I liked this show a lot better since there was a greater deal of variety in music and in themes. Heck, there was even humor in a couple of dances, even in one that featured Chopin's waltzes!

The pieces performed were:

Choreography: Christine Crame
Dancers: Seven Contemporary Dance Company, Christian Love Valdez, Zyda Marie Baaya and Christine Crame

Choreography: PJ Rebullida
Dancers: Karla Javier and PJ Rebullida

Choreography: Ma. Elena Laniog
Dancers: UP Dance Company, Nicole Primero, Chantal Primero, Angela Sebastian, Dina Magat, Sarah Maria Samaniego, Criezamor Pardito, Eunice Velasco, Janessa de Guzman, Chaya Barris and Angela Betina Carlos

Choreography: Carissa Adea
Dancers: Richardson Yadao, Angel Gabriel, Emmanuel Guillermo, Marvin Arizo, Ej Arisola

Choreography: Raul Alcoseba
Dancers: UP Dance Company, Al Bernard Garcia, Erl Emmanuel Sorilla, Jm Cabling, Dina Magat, Sarah Samaniego and Angela Sebastian

Choreography and Performance: Julie Alagde

Choreography: Mia Cabalfin
Dancers: Airdance, Ava Maureen Villanueva, Rhosam Prudenciado Jr., Vinia Pamplona-Peralta, Joanne Cabrega, Carlo Valderama, Melvin Apostol, Alfred Jan Mercado and Anna Agawa

Excerpt from Sayaw Sabel
Choreography: Agnes Locsin
Dancer: Christine Crame

Choreography and Performance: Ma. Elena O. Laniog and Ava Maureen Villanueva

Mr. Morales wants to say
Choreography: Paul Alexander Morales

Choreography: Myra Beltran
Dancers: Reagan Cornelio and Myra Beltran

Also performed were the winners of this year's edition of the New Choreographers Competition which I missed. The winning pieces performed were Kulambo by Frederick Fernandez which won 2nd place and Due Date by Alfred Jan Mercado which won 1st place and also the Audience Choice Award.

The most memorable number in here was Bliss and it was absolutely jaw dropping. Such extension and control was shown in this performance which drew the loudest applause from the audience.

And after the Wifi Gala, the people flocked to the CCP Main Theater Lobby for a performance of the Polecats which was wildly cheered by the people who decided to stay on. Overall, this year's edition is a bit trimmed down compared to last year which is a shame. I hope that I'd be able to catch this festival again during it's 6th staging.