All photos courtesy of Cultural Center of the Philippines Media Office
Is the country better off singing together than participating in national elections?
This comes to mind as the country bagged two more top prizes in the recently concluded Busan Choral Festival and Competition (BCFC) in Busan, South Korea last week of October.
The Sing Philippines Youth Choir (SPYC) under the direction of Mark Anthony Carpio placed second in the Classical Mixed & Equal Category and Gold Diploma in the Ethnic Category.
The membership of the SPYC is unique because its members come from four batches and 213 singers from 56 local communities in the country and honed together through music camps and sustained regional workshops.
SPYC was launched only in 2014 with support from the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Outreach Program.
The Sing Philippines movement brought to life the vision of National Artist for Music Andrea O. Veneracion who dreamed of a nation singing in harmony and united in songs.
Composed of 34 singers from all over the country, the SPYC led the choral group to victory in the Classical Mixed and Equal Category with unique interpretations of Fest- und Gedenksprüche, Op.109 and Wenn ein starker Gewappneter by Johannes Brahms and Draw on, sweet night by John Wilbye and Jubilate Deo by Saunder Choi.
In the Ethnic/Traditional category where they won the gold diploma, the winning choir performed Tatlong Awiting Pambata, Ang Alibangbang by Saunder Choi, Dandansoy arr. by Fidel Calalang, and Three Kalinga Chants by Nilo Alcala II.
The choir also performed in a special outreach concert October 22 at the Busan Station where they sang Sing Philippines Sing composed by Ily Mathew Maniano with lyrics by Joey Vargas.
Meanwhile, Filipino composer Maniano also won the top prize in the composition category for his piece, Amihan. Maniano is former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers.
Four other Philippine choral groups also won prizes in the Busan competition namely Villanueva Chorale of Misamis Oriental, Imusikapella of Cavite, Balanga Choral Artists and Bataan Peninsula State University Chorale.
The other competing choirs came from South Korea, Indonesia, and Singapore.
The winning streak of Philippine choirs didn’t surprise choir director Mark Carpio under whose time The Madz won choral crown twice under his term since 2001.
He credits National Artist Veneracion for instilling the value of hard work among choir members. “As Prof. Veneracion has pointed out in the past, nothing is more enjoyable than to see our hard work pay off. The objective of competition is not to win. It is just a means for us to get better.”
Carpio who once sat in the jury of the Busan choral festival and competition has pointed out, there is no such thing as an ideal sound in any choral competition. “The sound that the choir always tries to maintain is a free and relaxed sound but at the same time versatile and flexible. I believe there is no ideal or perfect sound for a choir. I have made this conclusion after listening to so many choirs from different countries of different cultures and ages. Each one sounds good but different from each other. There are qualities that are common to choirs. They are homogenous and the different voice parts are well-balanced. This is what conductors find very challenging,” Carpio added.
The bigger challenge for Carpio is when he leads the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra with a 200-member choir in the special performance of Handel’s Messiah on December 16 at the CCP main theater. It is the last performance at the CCP before it closes for a three-year renovation.
Meanwhile, the SPYC members were all praises for choir conductor Carpio.
From Efraim Mallari, alto from Cavite, SPYC Batch 3: “What made this victory sweeter is coming from a place of love and for the betterment of our output. I don’t know what magic Sir Mark (Carpio) used to make us sound good as a choir considering the limited time for rehearsal. We came home as better artists, better choristers and hopefully better persons.”
From Sarah Yan Roggero, alto, Cebu City, Batch 2: “This was the choir’s first international tour and the first time to join a choral competition. To the CCP and especially to Sir Mark (Carpio), we are really grateful for your patience, friendship and love. We can’t wait to be with you again soon.”