A first in the history of orchestra performance in the Philippines is the forthcoming 1st National Orchestra Festival 2010. It will feature seven of the country's finest orchestral groups in a series of concerts from September 21-25 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
Billed as Magnitude 7 on the Orchestra Scale, the festival will feature concerts by the Angono Chamber Orchestra, the FILharmoniKa, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the PREDIS Chamber Orchestra, the UP Orchestra, and the UST Symphony Orchestra.
Gerard Salonga, music conductor for FILharmoniKa, welcomes the big event since it is a first of its kind.
"I was so surprised when they told me about it," Gerard said when interviewed by PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at the launching of the festival last August 25 at the CCP Main Theater lobby.
In the past there were several music festivals held in the country, but as far as Gerard could remember, "Merong music festivals, pero laging centralized na festival orchestra. This is the first time, I think, that all of us who are identified in different orchestras will be having one performance after another, in the same venue."
The younger brother of internationally-renowned singer-actress, Lea Salonga, welcomes the project as an opportunity for the Filipinos to better appreciate orchestra music.
"Oo naman. Sobra!" Gerard gushed. "Siyempre, hindi naman laganap 'yung orchestra music sa atin. So it's going to be an event!
"At maganda 'yung ginagawa ng CCP ngayon," added Gerard. "May mga resident company sila, na [kung tutuusin] hindi na nila kailangang tumulong sa ibang orchestra, bukod sa PPO (Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra), 'di ba? Pero ginagawa pa rin nila."
Does Gerard think that a well-known personality should be given the task to promote or make the CCP orchestra festival publicly known?
"'Yong Cats nga [the musical, staged at the CCP in July and August 2010], na napakagandang show, kailangan pa nilang lagyan ng pangalan ng ate [Lea Salonga] ko, para magkaroon ng tao... kailangan ng personalidad. Ang mga Pilipino, gusto ng mukha.
"I don't mind. Galing ako sa pop, e," he added. "Basta puntahan ng mga tao. At saka, 'yung tickets are cheap. Pagka gano'n, pupuntahan ng tao."
Aside from his regular stint with the FILharmoniKA orchestra, as music conductor, Gerard Salonga arranges songs and scores music for films.
"I am now scoring RPG Metanoia, Star Cinema's Metro Manila Film Fest entry," he informed. "It's a 3D animation. And I'm averaging two hours of sleep a night. Alam n'yo naman ang schedule dito, mabilisan talaga."
MUSIC SCORING FOR MOVIES AND THEATER PRODUCTIONS. In 2007, Gerard Salonga also provided the musical scoring of Ang Pamana (an indie horror film, directed by a Filipino-Canadian, Romeo Candido) and last year, he did the musical direction of Sweeney Todd for Repertory Philippines. For the latter production, Gerard Salonga won as Best Musical Director at the PHILSTAGE's 2nd Gawad Buhay Awards last February, 2010.
"This coming November until December naman, I'll be musical director of Little Women, for Rep again. And we're opening Resorts World Manila. Opening Gala, on November 27, the opening week. FILharmoniKa will have concerts there," Gerard informed.
Under the leadership of Gerard Salonga as music director, FILharmoniKa was formed in 2005 as the in-house recording ensemble of Carmel House Studios, a music and audio post-production facility in Manila.
Then known as the Global Studio Orchestra, FILharmoniKa has become one of the most in-demand orchestras in the country today.
The group has recorded film scores and albums, namely, the animated feature Tugger, the Filipino thriller Ang Pamana, and the albums of Regine Velasquez, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Mon David, and most notably Lea Salonga's most recent studio album, Inspired.
The performance of FILharmoniKA, at the 1st CCP Orchestra Festival is scheduled on September 23, 2010, at 8pm, along with the UST Symphony Orchestra, to be led by orchestra music conductor, Hermenigildo Ranera.
Under the baton of Gerard Salonga, FILharmoniKa will perform Terry's Theme from Limelight by Charlie Chaplin (arranged by Gerard Salonga), Night on a Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky, Yerma by Francisco Feliciano and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein.
BEST ORCHESTRAS. The 1st National Orchestra Festival, a brainchild of Dr. Raul Sunico, of CCP, showcases the best orchestras in the country, in an exciting and varied program of immensely enjoyable and appealing pieces, written for the orchestra.
Highlight of the event is the performance of the Festival Orchestra composed of selected members of the participating orchestras who shall be performing with the country's eminent conductors, including (aside from Salonga of FILharmoniKA): Prof. Edna Marcil "Michi" Martinez and Prof. Rodney Ambat, of the UP Orchestra; Agripino "Nonoy" V. Diestro, of the Angono Chamber Orchestra; Herminigildo Ranera, of the UST Symphony Orchestra; Jeffrey Solares, of the PREDIS (Philippine Research for the Developing Instrumental Soloists); and the French-American conductor, Olivier Ochanine, of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO).
For the opening and closing concerts of the Festival, tickets are priced at Php1,000 (Orchestra Center), Php800 (Orchestra Sides), Php600 (Balcony I) and Php200 (Balcony II).
Tickets for the daily concerts are priced at Php700 (Orchestra Center), Php500 (Orchestra Sides), Php300 (Balcony I) and Php200 (Balcony II). Festival Passes, which provide access to all concerts are priced at Php3,400 (Orchestra Center), Php2,600 (Orchestra Sides) and Php1,800 (Balcony I). Discounts are available for seniors at 20% and students at 50% off.
For more information, please call the CCP Box Office at tel. no. 832-1125 local 1409 and direct line 832-3704.