Saturday, September 25, 2010

1st National Orchestra Festival 2010 UST Symphony Orchestra & FILharmoniKA

I made an effort to see this third night of the festival despite not feeling very well for various reasons. First, some members of the UST Symphony Orchestra are my friends and I wanted to support them. And I am also friends with some of the university's music students so I knew that I would see them there as well. Second, some members of the Pinoy Violinist group would be there as well since some of them are being mentored by a violinist from FILharmoniKA who is also from UST. So despite my body's desire to rest, I disobeyed common sense and watched this performance.

The evening started with the USTSO conducted by Herminigildo Ranera performing the Overture to "Rienzi" by Richard Wagner. And just like the opening night, things got started with an overture which I am not really familiar with. It was really hard for me to get into the zone since I was not feeling well and this was an unfamiliar piece.

Next performed was Piano Concerto No. 6 in B Flat Major, K. 238 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart featuring pianist Najib Ismail. I've seen him perform a Mozart piano concerto before and as I've been saying again and again, as much as I prefer seeing piano concerto performances, Mozart pieces don't excite me that much. But there's no denying that Ismail really knows how to play Mozart and he definitely nailed this performance. Unfortunately, the orchestra still wasn't able to match his level.

The last piece that the USTSO performed was Albert Reed's Symphony for Brass and Percussion and this was an interesting piece since as stated in the title, only the brass and percussion section were present. I guess that this was when my interest was heightened and I was finally able to get settled for the night.

There was an interval after this in preparation for the next part which was performed by FILharmoniKA conducted by Gerard Salonga. I admit that I enjoyed this part of the programme more since the pieces were familiar to me and I was already looking forward to them even before this night. It's quite rare to have a Charlie Chaplin piece performed by an orchestra. But Terry's Theme from Limelight is absolutely one of my favorites and it was really nice to see it finally performed live by an orchestra. And the orchestration really satisfied my expectations since it retained and captured what I like about this piece.

And they followed it up with another favorite which was Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. A friend of mine also like this piece and we were both pleased to see this performed live a last. And aside from Russian music, I also like Spanish music so having Manuel de Falla's Three Dances from El Sombrero de Tres Picos, Suite No. 2 continued the roll of FILharminiKA for me.

After this, things slowed down with Antonino Buenaventura's Meditation featuring a sublime violin solo from the orchestra's concertmaster Rechelle Alcanses. This was a short piece but it was sweet and provided a nice change of pace before the next piece which was the highlight for me: Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. This is a very familiar piece to me and it's one of my favorites as well. The orchestra performed this piece months ago which I failed to watch so I was extremely glad that I was present when they performed it again. I couldn't tell if FILharmoniKA prepared a more accessible programme or if it just happened that I was more familiar with the pieces that they performed.

After this, there was another interval before the next part where the two orchestras were combined. Most people who weren't there during the opening of the festival marvelled at the number of musicians onstage. But I was there so it didn't surprise me at all since I think that the Festival Orchestra numbered more than the USTSO and FILharmoniKA combined.

The final two pieces that the combined orchestra performed were Jean Sibelius' Finlandia and Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Russlan and Ludmila. The first piece was conducted by Ranera while Salonga took over for the second piece. The combined orchestra radiated a different kind of energy which was really interesting to see. And the combined numbers really produced a bigger sound which was really evident during the frantic strings of the Glinka overture. It felt a bit odd that the final piece would be an overture and finally, a familiar piece for me. After this, the audience demanded an encore from the combined orchestra and Salonga conducted the music from Cinema Paradiso which was really appreciated by the audience.

USTSO surprised me once again since they have been on the upswing and I do hope that this trend continues. But it was really noticeable how different FILharmoniKA was compared to them. USTSO is an orchestra made up of students while FILharmoniKA is already establishing its identity as an orchestra with the help of its high profile conductor.

It was a long night and fortunately, my friends and I were still able to socialize a bit after the concert. This was quite an exhausting day for me and I do need to build my stamina if I were to survive busy days like this. But as always, music does have an energizing effect on me. And a night spent with friends listening to orchestral music was a great way to end the day.

1st National Orchestra Festival 2010 Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra & Festival Orchestra

Finally, the 1st National Orchestra Festival 2010 has begun and I was there to witness the opening concert of the festival held at the CCP Main Theater. But I was really surprised when this night wasn't as grand as I thought it would be. And noticably absent was the pre-concert buzz at the lobby moments before the show started due to a less than desirable turn out. I guess that having the opening on a Tuesday wasn't the most appealing to a lot of people. And probably the weather which brought in heavy rains earlier that afternoon deterred some people from attending. And there was definitely something in the air since a lot of people have been getting sick lately.

But those factors didn't hinder me from being present that night and I was able to snag a couple of tickets thanks to Arvin Ello's contest. And I managed to bring with me a friend and member of the Pinoy Violinist forum who was available during that night. Unfortunately, Arvin was ill and wasn't able to make it.

The opening night featured two orchestras: the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Olivier Ochanine. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performed during the first half of the night. And they started with the Overture to Colas Beugnon by Dmitri Kabalevsky. I like a lot of Russian composers but somehow this work wasn't too familiar with me and I found it hard to concentrate on the music. This is usually the time when I usually settle down and it doesn't help at all if the first piece performed is something that I've never heard before.

The next was The Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius. Tone poems are a hit and miss for me but this one had a nice english horn solo which kept me mesmerized. Again, unfamiliarity with this piece made it hard for me to focus. And it didn't help that I couldn't see the one playing the english horn from where I was sitting. And quite honestly during the first two pieces, I was gearing up for the next pieces to be played.

So finally, it was time for Symphony No. 40 in G Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and it brought memories of a previous performance of the same piece months ago. The last performance that I've seen of this piece performed by another orchestra wasn't that good and I was hopeful that this one would be a vast improvement. So despite my view regarding Mozart's music, I really looked forward to this performance. Thankfully, the PPO was a lot better but the horns were sloppy during one section of the second movement and even those who aren't familiar with the piece at all would've noticed that jarring moment. But despite this much improved performance of this specific piece, Mozart's work still doesn't excite me. Finally, the first part was over and it was almost time for the piece that Ochanine was really pimping prior to this night.

The second half was truly the highlight of the night since it was the debut of the Festival Orchestra composed of musicians from the different participating orchestras namely the Angono Chamber Orchestra, FILharmoniKA, Manila Symphony Orchestra, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, PREDIS Chamber Orchestra, UP Orchestra and UST Symphony Orchestra. And they played one of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous works, Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64. I wasn't able to see musicians who were exclusively from PREDIS or AnChOr but these two groups are mostly made up of young kids still studying so I guess that it wasn't possible for them to join the Festival Orchestra. But some who came from these two groups during their younger years are now currently playing for the other orchestras participating so PREDIS and AnChOr were still represented.

Anyways, the Festival Orchestra was massive with all these members and the sound they produced was massive as well which was very appropriate for this popular Tchaikovsky piece. The orchestra shook the theater and the crescendos really swelled sweeping me away. It was like playing a recording with the volume on max but a lot better since this was a live performance. I was glad to hear once again the famous theme of the second movement which sent shivers down my spine and thankfully, the horn solo played well. One thing that I regret once again was not seeing the players further back the stage. I was able to have a good view of the cello and the double bass section but I wasn't able to see the wind, brass and percussion sections at all. So I wasn't able to see if a solo part was done by which musician and from which orchestra was he or she from. And no wonder the Ochanine pimped this piece a lot since he had the whole piece memorized since he didn't use a score during this performance.

But still, it was a very good performance and only someone without a soul would not be moved by not just the popular second movement theme but also the coda that ends the entire symphony. It's just a shame that the opening night of this festival didn't have the same audience turnout compared to the opening night of the PPO season a couple of weeks before.

Their encore was Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar and once again, having more members made the piece soar a lot more. And I remembered that Ochanine with the PPO during his debut some months ago also performed this piece as an encore.

It was a nice performance especially the Tchaikovsky piece which was divine. I initially wanted to watch every night of this festival but prior commitments and the need to pace myself to avoid fatigue and exhaustion prevent me from doing so. So just wait and see if ever I would be able to make it to the other nights.

Monday, September 20, 2010

USTSO in Concert

Some months ago, I missed a performance of pianist Heliodoro "Dingdong" Fiell II with the UST Symphony Orchestra. I heard some nice words about Fiel's performance that I told myself that I'd make sure to see him if ever he performs again. And so he did have a performance with the UST Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jeffrey Solares at the CCP Main Theater which capped off a week of so many concerts/events for me.

It felt odd arriving at the CCP on a Sunday night and since this was a UST event, most of the people there were either students from the University or somewhat related to the institution. It was a totally different atmosphere compared to the September Gala of the Ballet Philippines or the PPO Opening Concert that I was also able to attend to the same week. But it was nice seeing some of the same people whom I saw a couple of times that week and also some people whom I was only able to see that time only.

The programme was a delight since it featured two Russian composers whose work I really like. But unfortunately, the orchestra had to start with Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I usually tolerate works by Mozart but this one intrigued me since I was warned by some friends from the orchestra that this piece was the one that gave them the most trouble during rehearsals. I didn't set my expectations too high on this performance but I was pleasantly surprised that their performance wasn't that bad at all compared to the previous times when they completely disappointed me.

I was prepared for a disaster but although there were messy parts by the horns and some of the strings during the Andante movement. They were able to make it through and the Presto of the fourth movement which was what they told me was the hard part was done okay. So although I am not too thrilled with Mozart's works, I guess that the USTSO redeemed themselves with this performance.

Then came the part that really interested me. Fiel's performance of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb Minor, Op. 23. The last time I saw this performed, the orchestra once again left me stunned because they weren't able to match the level of the pianist. This was another chance for me to see a performance of this concerto and I was hopeful that it would be decent this time.

Fortunately, there were only minor trips in this piece and the horns weren't as bad as I expected them to be. It just felt that the pianist and the orchestra found it hard to be in sync during the final moments of the third movement. And I admit that despite this being a piano concerto wherein I normally focus on the piano, I took more notice on the brass section since I had this dreadful feeling that they would play badly.

Fortunately, there weren't as many glaring mistakes and again, it took me by surprise. Overall, I was satisfied with Fiel's performance although his encore which was a modern piece left me a bit baffled. And I was glad that a friend finally introduced me to him. I'll watch out for his future performances for sure.

The last piece they performed was Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. A friend from the orchestra was quite proud of this one and she should be since they played it quite well. I really like the Promenade theme of this piece and I am glad that I was able to listen to it performed live.

It was just odd that this night, I concentrated more on the orchestra because of the ominous warnings of impending disaster that I received from some of the members. But honestly, they redeemed themselves with their performance and I do hope that this bodes well for their upcoming performances.

PPO I - La Musique Francaise

The opening concert of the 28th Season of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the CCP Main Theater was very memorable for me. I bet that this was also equally memorable for PPO Principal Conductor and Music Director Olivier Ochanine. Months ago, I told him that I would bring to the CCP a group of recreational musicians with little or no experience in watching an orchestra perform live. And on this night itself, I had with me a bunch of friends from the Pinoy Violinists forums who had little or no experience in watching an orchestra performance.

Their presence gave me an added boost of energy for that night. I was able to appreciate the entire programme of the concert because of them. I confess that I have no idea about Harold in Italy by Hector Berlioz and Pastoral d'Ete by Arthur Honegger which were two of the four pieces performed that night. But one of the people in the group also plays the viola and the Berlioz piece is one of his favorites and the another likes pastoral music. So their desire to hear these pieces somehow added to my anticipation and it dispelled any indifference that I felt regarding these pieces.

The first piece performed that night was Harold in Italy featuring Japanese violist Sayaka Kokubo who is now part of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Upon reading the programme notes and the voice over prior to the performance, I somehow got a little idea of how this piece would turn out to be especially with the reference to Paganini. Kokubo had a very interesting looking viola and the piece itself was quite interesting too. I've already said before that I'm not really familiar with the repertoire for viola but this piece was really unusual since it wasn't really a virtuosic piece. After this piece was performed, we finally realized why Paganini refused to play it. There weren't any jaw dropping passages from the violist and it was the typical program music that I am not really a fan of. We were hoping for an encore from Kokubo but unfortunately, that didn't happen.

The piece that I was looking forward to started the second half of the night. I have fond memories of Darius Milhaud especially with his works influenced by Brazilian music. And the piece performed by the orchestra, Le Boeuf sur le Toit, Op. 58 was definitely infused with Brazilian and South American music and rhythm. To pump myself for this night, I listened to a recording of this piece. The PPO played it differently from the recording but that was alright with me since another interpretation only serves to enhance my knowledge of the said piece.

After that, it was Pastoral d'Ete that was performed. As I've said before, I am not a huge fan of pastoral music. But again, one of my friends with me that night likes pastoral music. And if he was happy because of the inclusion of this music in the programme, then whom am I to complain.

The last piece performed was the one piece many of my companions were waiting for: Maurice Ravel's Bolero. Many of them are very familiar with the piece and yet this was the first time that they've seen it performed live and I was honored to have been with for this experience. They found it amusing how the snare drum played the same two bars over and over again and yet he was positioned at the center of the orchestra. And they also noticed how the trombone had difficulty in playing his part which is quite a shame since that part with its slides is one of my favorites in the entire piece. Even those with an untrained ear were able to notice that things didn't go well for him. But I heard from someone that he had a problem with his tooth/teeth on that night hence the difficulty during his solo.

The orchestra then played pieces from non-French composers for their encore. I failed to take note of the first encore that sounded like a loud polka that always pleases the crowd but the second one they played was Intermezzo by Pietro Mascagni from Cavalleria rusticana. And this second encore really got through me since it evoked some memories within me.

After the concert, my friends were thrilled when they were able to meet violist Sayaka Kokubo and conductor Olivier Ochanine at the lobby. Some had their souvenir programmes signed by these two and then we had our photos taken with them. It's been a pleasure for me to accompany them to this performance as this inspired them to practice their instruments more and appreciate music more as well. So dear reader, don't be surprised if you see us once again at another concert soon.

Piano Optophonique Music and Image

I've heard about this performance when I had been dropping by the UP College of Music's Abelardo Hall Auditorium for their Sounds of August series. This performance organized by the Manila Composers' Lab and Goethe-Institut was dubbed as Piano Optophonique Music and Image and initially I had no idea what to expect from this performance.

Then it was announced that works by Oliver Schneller would be performed. I am not really familiar with who he is and let alone his works so I'm not sure what kind of music he had in store. And the programme said that the pieces were for video projection, real time electronics and virtual instruments aside from the piano which would be played by his wife Heather O'Donnell. I had no clue how the video, electronics and virtual instrument would contribute to the pieces but it made me curious to see this performance. Also included were works by familiar composers John Adams and Charles Ives which made the night more interesting because of the selection of the works to be played.

And it was indeed very interesting to see this performance. Not only were the works not the usual classical repertoire but the setup was also unusual as well. The video wall was expected already but the speakers set up wasn't. And the speakers played a major role since the sound emanating from the speakers would shift from the left to the right and it had an effect on the overall performance.

The music in itself takes a lot of getting used to. I admit that I wasn't able to get or hear them all. I would understand if some people were put off by this kind of performance especially if they were expecting the usual piece with a melody that could be easily recalled. The minimalist piece China Gates by John Adams was the only piece played that could be easily appreciated by a casual listener but the others require more than just casual listening.

So I was surprised that the Charles Ives piece called Three Quarter Tone Pieces was able to get through me. This piece is originally for two pianos but there was only one piano and pianist, so the other piano part was pre-recorded and it was on a different pitch, specifically a quarter tone off the pitch. It sounded really dissonant at first but somehow, it added to the appeal, mystique and enchantment of the piece. It's not for everyone and I would normally be not drawn to it but hearing it gave me shivers and goosebumps.

Since I mentioned the video wall, in some pieces, some abstract images were seen that were generated by a computer and if I'm not mistaken, the images formed took their cues from the sound of the piano picked up by the microphone. The piano played unusual notes to start with that had no discernible melody and it was difficult to see if the piece had any structure or form to it. So the images that accompanied it were thematically the same which was very abstract. And I admit that I found it hard to understand if I indeed understood anything at all.

But the other piece which had a video accompanying it was a bit easier to understand. The music was the usual difficult to understand but the video was a surprising contrast since it was about some guy who had thought up of some architectural design. So it was interesting to hear something without any form being accompanied by a video that was about a field very much into geometric forms and structure.

Overall, this night was an eye and ear opener since I've never experienced something like this before. I am just glad that I've listened to and liked some pieces by George Crumb which is somewhat in the same vein of some of the pieces performed so I wasn't entirely shocked as I could be.

And when I found out that O' Donnell would be performing a few days later at the Podium, I got a bit excited and fearful. I got fearful at first since I knew that the mall crowd would not appreciate the programme that they performed at UP. And then Schneller, during our brief chat after the show, told me that O' Donnell would be performing pieces by Schumann, Ravel, Chopin Gershwin and would be repeating the Adams piece, I knew that I had to drop by at the Podium to see her perform.

And so I did manage to see her perform once again and this time, it was the usual pieces from the usual composers that I am familiar with that she played. She first played Robert Schumann's Selections from Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6 and then Maurice Ravel's Sonatine.

The next piece she played was a favorite: Frederic Chopin's Berceuse in D Flat Major, Op. 57 followed by John Adams China Gates which she also performed at UP. To end the short set, she played George Gershwin's Three Preludes.

Unfortunately, piano performances do not work well at all at a mall like the Podium. Most of the pieces O'Donnell played had many pianissimo parts and it was distracting to hear a young girl shrieking in the background while a Berceuse (basically a lullabye) was being played. And again, it was too short but quite understandly so since they were supposed to play the same programme that they did at UP but it wasn't possible due to the acoustics of the venue and it was not possible to dim the lights as well.

But O'Donnell's short set impressed me since it showcased her versatility since she was able to play not only modern pieces but pieces from the standard classical repertoire. Schneller and O'Donnell are a married couple and they made this brief detour to Manila from Shanghai for sentimental reasons. It turned out that Schneller spent some years in here while he was still studying in his younger years. And that he wanted to come back so he made things work out for him.

Victor Goldberg Piano Recital

One thing that makes me very nervous when it comes to recitals and concerts is knowing about them barely a week, or worse, just a few days prior to the actual date of the performances themselves. I don't know how I manage to keep my sanity whenever I try to find the time and money to watch such a concert. I do like to know at least two weeks in advance so that I could really iron out everything and be prepared in all aspects.

So I was at my wit's end when I read about the upcoming recital of Russian-Israeli pianist Victor Goldberg at the Philam Life Auditorium barely a week before he performed. And it wasn't easy trying to find information about this performance since promotion was a bit lacking. And the few information that I was able to read ie. his credentials and blurbs about his performances just made me want to watch him the more.

But nonetheless, my resourcefulness kicked in and I was able to make ends meet and I ended up watching him. Unfortunately, most people that I've informed about his performance weren't able to make it since it was really too short a notice. And I guess that this was also the case since the regulars who I usually see watching piano performances weren't present at the concert as well which is quite a shame.

The first time I heard about him at a newspaper column stated that he would perform pieces by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Somehow, this wasn't really the programme that he had in mind for his performance a the Philamlife Auditorium. But that didn't mean that what he played were light weight pieces.

A recital consisting of three sonatas by Mozart, Scriabin and Scarlatti and a Brahms piece is something that could intimidate the usual pianist but Goldberg was master of them all when he performed these pieces.

Again, I say that I am not really a fan of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's work. Sure I listen to them but I do not really jump for joy whenever I see his works being a part of a concert programme. But I was glad nonetheless that Goldberg started with Mozart's Sonata No. 9 in D Major, K. 311. Yes, he played it the way a Mozart piece was to be played, light, clear and playful and this somehow made me appreciate more the next piece which was very much different from Mozart.

This next piece was Alexander Scriabin's Sonata No. 5 in F Sharp Major, Op. 53. It was absolutely sublime and unmistakenly romantic which is what I really like. After this piece was played, I tried to enumerate my pianists friends who weren't present and felt pity on them for not being able to see this performance.

Unfortunately, Goldberg had to go back in time to an era of music that I am not really a huge fan of to start the second half of the program. The recital resumed with Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in E Major, K. 380 and thankfully it wasn't that long since I was already looking forward to the Brahms that would end the night's programme.

I really like Johannes Brahms works but some aren't still familiar for me. And the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 is one such unfamiliar piece. Again, Handel's era do not excite me but I was really curious to see how Brahms did his variations based on the theme. And I was really surprised by the sheer talent of Brahms on how he was able to make these variations. The original theme doesn't appeal to me at all but the variations especially the brooding ones I appreciated. And some were technically different and I wondered if I'd ever reach the skill level for me to be able to play that piece. But I guess that that would just remain a dream.

Despite the less than ideal number of people present, they applauded vigorously after the performance and hoped for multiple encores. And Goldberg did three encores with Sergei Rachmaninoff's Musical Moment in E Minor being the first and there's no denying that I absolutely adore Rachmaninoff's music so I was very pleased to have this as his first encore.

And the second encore delighted me more as well since it was Frederic Chopin's Polonaise, Op. 40 which is also known as the Military Polonaise. So I was really happy after this. And then he played a Piotr Tchaikovsky piece which was the October - Autumn Song from The Seasons piece. Thankfully, this soft piece was a change of pace from all the fast, frantic and dizzying pieces that were performed earlier.

After the recital, Goldberg was at the lobby and he gladly signed CD's which he had on sale that night. This has been one of the most impressive solo piano recitals that I've seen this year and it's just a shame that not a lot of people were able to see it. The promotion leading towards this event was limited and the little I saw was too near the performance that it wasn't able to build a certain level of anticipation and excitement.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

1st National Orchestra Festival 2010

Those who have stumbled upon this blog and have read some entries (thank you very much) would easily guess that I am into classical music big time. And one of the most exciting classical music concerts for me to watch are orchestra performances. If I had the time and money I would watch them all but although it's a lot easier for me and for most people to find the time, it's usually the money for tickets that is the problem.

So when it was announced that there would be the 1st National Orchestra Festival 2010 at the CCP which boasts of 7 orchestras (Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra [PPO], Manila Symphony Orchestra [MSO] , FILharmoniKA, Uinversity of Sto. Tomas Symphony Orchestra [USTSO], University of the Philippines Orchestra, Predis Chamber Orchestra and Angono Chamber Orchestra [AnChOr] performing from September 21-25, it was indeed a dream come true for me and probably every other lover of orchestral music out there. And an added feature for this festival is the formation of the Festival Orchestra which is made up of members from the various orchestras participating. And I've read somewhere that this Festival Orchestra will be massive with other 100 members.

So, an overdose of orchestral music is very much welcome and I would be extremely disappointed if ever I fail to catch this event tagged as "Magnitude 7 on the Orchestra Scale". I've seen all of these orchestras perform live before and I do make it a point to support their every performance as I believe that culture and the arts is very important in nourishing the soul.

A friend of mine and also an avid supporter of cultural events, Arvin Ello, is giving away free tickets for this festival. Of course I would want to win the tickets since that would mean savings on my part but I also want you, the humble reader to have a chance to experience the joy of watching an orchestra perform live.

He has simple rules and not only will I state my answers here, but I will suggest possible answers for you in case you're still on the fence about this festival.

Why should I win?

Well, I am an avid supporter of classical music performances and anything to make things easier for me to watch them is a definite plus.

Why should you win?

If you are still hesitant about watching shows like this because you think that it's elitist and quite expensive, then problem is solved if you win tickets.

Why would I like to watch?

I could go on and on about my reasons for wanting to watch. But one of the main reasons why I like to watch something like this is because not only it entertains me, but it also gives me inspiration and motivation to face the harsh reality of life. Somehow, after watching a performance, I do get additional strength to face whatever problems I may have had at the time.

Why would you like to watch?

I don't know about your reasons but even plain curiosity or if you had watching a classical concert on your to do list before you die is good enough reason to watch! Different people have different reasons for watching and that's what makes it more exciting since you will also get the chance to see the people in the audience hanging out at the lobby during intermission or after the concert. And who knows, you might even see some celebrities in attendance.

Who would I invite?

I've been very active in promoting cultural events to a group of recreational musicians. They don't embark on a career in music but they pursue it as a hobby. And it has been my pleasure bringing them to concerts and letting them experience how awesome the feeling is after seeing a great performance. I would gladly invite any of them who is available to watch.

Who would you invite?

Again, this has many answers! It could be your special someone, your spouse, your parent, your child, your friend. Or if you are new to events like these, bring someone who is also new since it's less intimidating to explore new things when you have a companion with you sharing the same experience.

Which set do I prefer?

If I have my own way, I'd watch all performances! But the opening concert which is part of Set A is a big one so I guess that would be my choice if left to only one decision.

Which set do you prefer?

Look at your schedule for that week and let that guide you on your decision. But if you can make it on a Tuesday night, then go for the opening concert as well. If you can only manage on a weekend, then go for the closing concert.

See, in my desire to promote this event to a lot of people I even helped my possible competition for this contest. Yes, I do want to snag free tickets as well.

Here is the schedule and the programme of the festival:

September 21

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra
Olivier Ochanine, conductor

Overture to "Colas Breugnon" by Dmitri Kabalevsky
The Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 40 in G minor by W.A. Mozart

Festival Orchestra
Olivier Ochanine, Conductor

Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by P. Tchaikovsky

September 22

PREDIS Chamber Orchestra
Jeffrey Solares, conductor
Micah Pecson, violin
Jeline Oliva, violin

Divertimiento in D major, K. 136 by W.A. Mozart
Concerto Grosso in A minor, RV 522 by Antonio Vivaldi
Holberg Suite, Op. 40 from "Holberg's Time" by Edvard Grieg
Romanian Dances by Bela Bartok

Manila Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Molina, conductor

Luzviminda Overture by Restie Umali
The Tempest by Peter Tchaikovsky
The Firebird Suite (Version 1919) by Igor Stravinsky

September 23

University of Santo Tomas Symphony Orchestra
Hermigildo Ranera, conductor
Najib Ismail, piano

Symphony for Brass and Percussion by Alfred Reed
Piano Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, K. 238 by W. A. Mozart
Overture to "Reinzi" by Richard Wagner

Gerard Salonga conductor

Terry's Theme from "Limelight" by Charlie Chaplin arr. by Gerard Salonga
Night on Bald Mountain (original 1867 version) by Modest Mussorgsky
Yerma by Francisco Feliciano
Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story" by Leonard Bernstein

Herminigildo Ranera, conductor
Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius

Gerard Salonga, conductor
Overture to Russian and Ludmilla by Mikhail Glinka

September 24

Angono Chamber Orchestra
Agripino Diestro, conductor
Ivan Mihkail Ramos, violin
Dr. Santiago G. Yangco, flute

Overture to Messiah by George Frideric Handel
Petersburgian Baroque by Zhanna Metallidi
Concerto in A minor for Violin and Orchestra RV 356 by Antonio Vivaldi
Air, Suite No. 3 in D Major, BVW 1068 by J.S. Bach
Mga Katutubong Awitin by Lucio San Pedro
Katakataka: Theme and Variation for Flute and Orchestra by Santiago S. Suarez
Antiche Danze Ed Arie Per Liuto (III Suite) by Ottorino Resphigi
Jubilate March Heroic by Lucio San Pedro, orchestration by Agripino Diestro

University of the Philippines Symphony Orchestra
Edna Marcil Martinez, conductor

Overture to The Impresario, K. 486 by W. A. Mozart
Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48 by Peter Tchaikovsky
Balitaw sa Bukid by Rosendo Santos
Mindanao Sketches by Antonio Buenaventura

September 25
Festival Orchestra

Gerard Salonga, conductor
Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town" by Leonard Bernstein

Hermenigildo Ranera, conductor
Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral from "Lohengrin" by Richard Wagner

Edna Marcil Martinez, conductor
Academic Festival Overture by Johannes Brahms

Olivier Ochanine, conductor
"Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Selected Movements from Gayane Ballet Suite by Aram Khachaturian

Here are the ticket prices:

Ticket Prices for Opening and Closing Concerts (Sep 21 & 25)

Orchestra Center P1,000
Orchestra Sides P800
Balcony I P600
Balcony II P200

Ticket Prices for Daily Concerts (Sep 22-24)

Orchestra Center P700
Orchestra Sides P500
Balcony I P300
Balcony II P200

Festival Passes (access to all the concerts)

Orchestra Center P3,400
Orchestra Sides P2,600
Balcony I P1,800

20% discount Senior Citizens
50% discount Students

For tickets, please call the CCP Box Office at tel. nos. 832-1125 local 1409 and direct line 832-3704.

Tugtog at Indayog

Hoping to finally flush the Baroque contamination out of my system, I came back to the Abelardo Hall Auditorium at the UP Campus in Diliman for the final show of the Sounds of August series which was entitled Tugtog at Indayog: A Night of Jazz and Afro-Latin Music.

There's a whole bunch of musicians playing at this performance which comprises the Tugtog (Play) part of the title. The Indayog (Dance) portion was delivered by the UP Dance Company whom I've had the chance of seeing performing contemporary dances a few times already. I am already grasping the concept of contemporary dance and one thing that I like about dance performances is if there's live music accompanying it.

One thing that I didn't like was the trip going to the UP Campus since the weather was horrible once again and what was supposed to be a 20 minute trip ended up in a over an hour. So this show had a major task to eliminate the bad vibes I was feeling upon my arrival at the campus. Remarkably, this was the most attended event of the Sounds of August series and if I heard it right, some students were required to watch this.

The first number of the night was called Binalig sa EDSA by Ria Villena-Osorio. I've never heard this music before but it was clear that this was the jazz portion of the show. I felt that the trumpet was not yet in his zone at this time. Maybe he had a hard time coming to the venue as well and didn't have enough time to warm up. And as expected, several members of the UP Dance Company were there to provide the dancing. The next was the Toote Suite and if memory serves me right, a different group of dancers performed here and they had a more classical line as opposed to the contemporary leanings of the previous group. To end the first jazzy half, the musicians performed Caravan by Duke Ellington. I know a jazz standard entitled Caravan but I don't think that this was the one that was played.

The second half of the programme was when the Afro-Latin music made itself heard. First performed was Astor Piazolla's Bordel: 1900 and History of Tango: Nightclub 1960. Another set of dancers were on hand for this number and they had quite a different take on the tango. I really like tango music and I found this unusual interpretation of the dance very interesting.

Then came the Latin Jazz: Philadelphia Mambo by Sara Tavares. I'm not sure if this was the one where the musicians each had their moment. If this was the case, then this was the time when I lamented my absolute lack of piano improv skills. After this, a couple of vocalists joined the performers as they did WOrld Fusion: Bom Feeling by The Buena Vista Social Club. I felt that the vocals were a bit weak and quite unsure. Well, if they were singing in Portuguese which I think was the case, then I understand since I find the language difficult as well.

The last bunch of numbers performed were Danzon-Mambo, If Dreams Could Dance by Steve Erqulaga and Comparsa: Conga Carnival by Miguel "Anga" Diaz. By this time, I felt that no one was really taking this show that seriously. Sure mistakes were made by the dancers yet it was obvious that they were having fun and it somehow added to the appeal of the whole show.

Overall, the show was really all about having fun but I felt that some had too much fun. The overwhelming majority of the audience was made up of people from the UP College of Music and they were too comfortable that it made someone like me felt a bit out of place. I guess that this means that I am really getting old.