InTENse: I Was There!

The Philippine Madrigal Singers has inspired me once again. I’ve seen them twice this year. First was in their UP homecoming concert in Abelardo Hall on 24 November 2011, and recently in a concert they staged at Cultural Centre of the Philippines on 18 December 2011. This one was dubbed “InTENse”, in celebration of the Mark Carpio’s 10th year of leading the Madz as its choirmaster.

Where should I start, then?

It has been my custom to bring friends with me to watch a concert. First, I want to share a wonderful experience such as a watching concert with somebody; second, I want to have an “intelligent” talk with that somebody afterward; third, I want that somebody to learn something new or appreciate music more; fourth, I don’t want to be darn alone!

This time I had three friends accompanying me to the august hall of the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. We came a little late, unfortunately.

Because of our destitute state, I bought the lowest ticket–but I managed to get a discount, thanks to the ever cheerful Madz member Ms Bianca Camille Lopez (by the way, she left me a note inserted with the tickets I had reserved; and I really appreciated it: I’ll bring it to my grave!).

The organizers didn’t produce a souvenir programme. They said that their utmost concern for the environment made them decide not to print such and instead flash using a projector the title and information about the songs being performed.

Too bad for me that I never thought of writing them down. Now I scamper for thoughts and conjure from my memory the details of the performance.

I took this during the interval. Notice the famous semicircle formation of the chairs. That is according to the madrigal tradition of singing.

I never saw the Madz move extensively, literally, onstage as what happened that night. The group also had to employ other choristers for some production songs and the effect was striking! It made voices jump out from different parts of the hall, making the sounds to waft around the hall.

They did it for several songs and one I remember was with the song “One Voice”, which perfectly matched the vocal acrobatics. Choirmaster Mark Carpio started line “Just one voice singing in the darkness. all it takes is one voice, singing so they hear what’s on your mind, and when you look around you’ll find there’s more than one voice…” Then the dimmed light began to brighten, as a multitude of voices from the stage and from the boxes (Madz Alumni and participating Madz Et Al) gradually crept in to fill the hall. It was moving!

The Madz also sang “Isang Taong Lumipas” (Jose Javier Reyes and Ryan Cayabyab) in which the words served not just a yuletide song but also suited as a commemoration of Sir Mark’s decade-long leadership. I think I heard them modify the line “Isang taong lumipas, isang taong nagdaan…” to “Sampung taong lumipas, sampung taong nagdaan” (I hope I am right). The Madz Alumni (from 2001-2011) were there to sing this piece.

Sir Mark also performed “The Warrior Is a Child” (Twila Paris), indicating where he finds the strength to move on.

For nearly five decades now, the Madz has seen wonderful talents come and go, flourish and beget other talents. The group has nourished many generations of Filipino singers, which reciprocated to sustain the group itself. It has been a mutual relationship between the “institution” and the members it aids to burgeon.

The Madz, since its inception, has seen two choirmasters. Perhaps I can safely say the group has undergone a generation change–but the principles and spirit of the madrigal style abides.

During the show, a sound bite was played: it was a speech made by Madz founder Prof Andrea O Veneracion during the turnover ceremonies and investiture of Sir Mark as the choirmaster. I barely heard some parts even I listened keenly at it, but fortunately, I found a copy of that speech, thanks to a post in Facebook by Ms Odette Galura, to whom I credit the following link:

I made a transcription of the speech. I hope I did it accurately. Sorry for the bracketed words, I found them inaudible.

“In our 38 years of singing, we find ourselves again in circle, almost.

“Way back in 1963, we started our first concert here in Manila at the PhilAm Life Insurance Theatre, and there we started our life. Life, as we did come full circle, we are building for the love of music, and hopefully we will be all instruments of peace in this troubled world of ours. This has been one of our missions and will be so for many more years to come.

“But the work is far from over, in fact it is just bearing fruit. Now I have another task to do, I need to see this dream through, to make this mission the driving force of the future singers to come. Because our generation will have to move on, it is our obligation to make sure that this dream does not end with us, that [it] becomes a reality beyond today. Because, talagang sayang if we are not able to turn our noble vision into a reality. Sayang talaga especially now that we are assured that our dream makes sense, that it works, that we can make it work.

“All through my years with the Madrigal Singers, I have kept my eyes and ears open to this important […]:

“Who will help me carry with this dream forward? Who will dream my dream? And who will be consumed by the same passion I and many Madrigal Singers of the past have carefully nurtured.

“I have kept my heart open to find who will care for and build up the many wonderful singers who make the Madrigal Singers what it is. I have prayed for the one who will continue make the MS the instrument of peace for our good God who has sustained us through these years.

“Many great singers stemmed out from our rank. Many talented conductors-to-be have emerged from our rank who have this passion I speak of. It has been my life-long work to mold, shape, nurture, and build them.

“And today, I am greatly blessed to have found someone who can carry the dream of the Madrigal Singers forward, someone who has earned the respect and of his peers and singers because of his extraordinary musical gift and skill, someone who I am confident will work for our dream of a world united in singing and bonded by music.

“Through this past decade, I have worked with someone who believes that before anything and above everything, the Madrigal Singers eased a way to bring peace and understanding through music.

“[Let] our applause and accolades are but secondary to the noble task of touching lives of ours.

“Our work is far from over. I ask you all to join hands with me and with the Madrigal Singers for that man who will work with us to carry our dream forward and to the next generation and the future. Ladies and gentlemen, Mark Carpio.”

(Please call my attention for corrections to the text. Thanks.)

Whew! The Madz really has that noble dream and trust that music can definitely work and be used for peace. That is a ringing message, a purpose.

This is me with Mark Carpio. Please let me brag this picture! Haha.

Fast forward: we enjoyed the show immensely. And it made me love choral singing more!

There was a bit post-concert revelry at the CCP lobby. Out the balcony, we found ourselves beholding a scene. The Madz was singing “No Dejes de Cantar” (trans: don’t stop singing) to the beat of a drum. Here is a short clip of the video I took. Look at how the people celebrated music.

After that, we invoked our courage to have some photographs taken with the members themselves. Due to my timid nature, I managed to get only some. I say next time I’ll be bold to ask “Can we have a picture?”

We with Bianca Camille Lopez–very popular, I should say!

I with Perlita Reyes. She mistook me for a Japanese for I bowed a lot in gratitude.

We with Kitbielle Pasagui.

My friends with Marvin Gayatgay.

There! I can’t say anything more. Thanks for reading.

And, “Ching!” (Everyone who watched the concert knows what is this.) Haha.


10 thoughts on “Entry 020

  1. Just read your article now and I was moved by it. It was well written and showed the sincerity of the writer. I am glad you enjoyed that particular concert. Thank you also for your kind words for my daughter Bianca Lopez! Please keep on supporting the Madz. Thank you!

    Mimi Lopez

    • thanks Ms Mimi! Your daughter never fails to enthrall us, the audience. I liken her somewhat to a brighter star among the Madz luminaries. And she is unpretentious, too. : p

      • Your message about her having a brighter star is about to unfold! She is leaving the Madz next month after their European tour (they’re in Europe right now) and the culmination of their 50th Anniversary. She will be concentrating on her first solo Performance as Rusalka in the Opera with the same title which originated in the Czech Republic and which will be shown in Sept. at the CCP. I hope you can watch this as well as their homecoming concert on June 28 & 29 at the CCP. This will be her last concert with the Madz. You may visit her fb page for the Rusalka poster.

      • I have seen the poster of Rusalka and shared it on my fb. Yep, I will be watching that as well as the Madz homecoming concert. I am ambivalent knowing she’ll be retiring from Madz and knowing she’ll pursue another glorious path. Oh well, I guess I’ll be a for-life fan. Salamat po (and tell her too). : p

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