Rhap Salazar and The Young Voices of Negros win top prizes in 2009 WCOPA


Rhap Salazar (third from left) shows off his medal and plaque as Junior Grand Champion Solo Vocalist of the World and Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World. He is joined by The Young Voices of Negros, the singing group that was named Junior Grand Champion Group Vocalists of the World in the WCOPA. National Director Carlo Orosa (rightmost) joins them in this jubilant moment.


Team Philippines has done it again at the grand finals of the 13th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles, California on July 17.

ABS-CBN's Little Big Star Brightest Star Rhap Salazar won the coveted titles of Junior Grand Champion Solo Vocalist of the World and Junior Grand Champion Performer of the World. The vocal quartet The Young Voices of Negros won the title Junior Grand Champion Group Vocalists of the World.

Twelve-year-old Rhap sang a one-minute version of Celine Dion's "All By Myself" at the final show.

JUDGES "BLOWN AWAY." WCOPA Philippine National Director Carlo Orosa narrated, "Hours before the finals, Rhap's voice was getting tired due to extensive rehearsals for two straight days. He did everything to conserve his voice. Despite the odds, he gave a stellar performance worthy of the top prizes in the junior division. The American judges were simply blown away by his soaring vocals."

The judges at the grand finals were composed of high profile agents, record and television producers, choreographers, and Disney theme park directors in California and New York.

On their part, The Young Voices of Negros (Katrina, Kristina, Aissa and Kristopherson Madrigal) performed a highly polished rendition of "And I Am Telling You" from the musical Dreamgirls, in four-part harmony.

WCOPA's newest junior champions Rhap and The Young Voices of Negros will be featured on ABC's Good Morning America through the "My Life in Three Words" segment.

Team Philippines' junior vocalist Mayumi Morales, and senior vocalists Martha Joy and CJ Concepcion also competed in the grand finals.

Kimverle Molina of Saudi Arabia won the title Senior Grand Champion Vocalist of the World, while Jo Robinson of Australia won the titles Senior Grand Champion Intrumentalist of the World and Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World.

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Other members of Team Philippines Maila Mitra, Evette Pabalan, Oreo Vamenta, Divo Bayer and Guy Lockwood made it to the semifinals.

During the weeklong competition, Filipino celebrities showed their support for the team. These included Isay Alvarez, Louie Reyes, Butch Jimenez, Tricia Jimenez, and Rhap's best friend Charice Pempengco among them.

CARLO'S YEARLY HARVEST OF CHAMPIONS. "Filipino talent is highly regarded as world class. This being my last year as WCOPA Philippine National Director, I feel so blessed and honored to have produced three Junior Grand Champion Performers of the World—Aria Clemente in 2007, Catherine Loria in 2008, and Rhap Salazar this year. My heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors, my co-workers Oliver Oliveros and Judith Bueno, STAGES, and most especially to the Office of the President, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for supporting us every year," said Carlo.

"Television producer and director Kitchie Benedicto will be taking my position as WCOPA Philippine National Director starting next year. I know that the triumph our country has earned will be cared for by Director Benedicto," added Carlo.

Since the Philippines joined the WCOPA in 2005, seven Filipino performing artists have won the global competition's top prizes: Jed Madela (2005 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World), The Cercado Sisters (2006 Grand Champion Group Vocalists of the World), Reymond Sajor (2007 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World), Aria Clemente (2007 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World), Catherine Loria (2008 Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and Grand Champion Performer of the World), and Rhap Salazar and The Young Voices of Negros this year.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through the President's Social Fund, STAGES, photographer Jason Tablante, Moomba Bar and Café, Trumpets Musicademy, Le Froge, and ABS-CBN support the 2009 WCOPA Team Philippines.


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