Easing pandemic anxieties through music

Tenor Tomy VirtucioTenor Tomy Virtucio

Tenor Tomy Umberto Virtucio and baritone Darwin Lomentigar are collaborating in a free live-streaming concert called “Back to Love” on Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. as a way of easing those suffering from pandemic stress and anxieties. Their music hopefully will transform these feelings into something more beautiful and positive.

The concert that has Anthony Go Villanueva for its musical director is for the benefit of the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation Inc. (MMAFI) and the outreach projects of Kammerchor Manila (KM). People can access the concert through the Facebook Fanpage of Lomentigar, Virtucio, Kammerchor Manila and AA Appreciating Art.

Dr. Orestes Monzon, MMAFI board member, said, “The original plan is a staged concert with a live audience. Because of recent events, we changed our plans to a live-streaming concert to reach out to more viewers and to inspire and help people cope up with emerging issues. And to raise funds to help others.”

He continued, “In our first live-streaming concert last April, we raised funds for frontliners. In our second concert last week, we put KM talents together to raise funds for a dear member of KM who was rushed to the hospital (later, he was found out to have cancer).”

Monzon, a painter by avocation, said, “During this coming concert, we thought of raising funds to support artists like us. We chose MMAFI to support artists, poets, and musicians. Access to this is free. Donation of any amount is voluntary.”

Asked about the role of musicians during the time of the pandemic and how they can be supported despite the lack of outlets for their concerts, he answered, “Musicians perform our music virtually and we can be accessed worldwide on the Internet. This is an easy way to inspire, motivate from a distance and help others cope with a difficult situation. We reach out also to our friends in other countries, the friends we have met during our concerts abroad. In this way, we are still connected through live stream and social media platforms.”

He was asked as a physician to comment on the role of musicians in this pandemic: “Music has a great impact in our everyday life. Music never leaves us. It stays even at the time when we are down and lonely, in sad times and in bad, during failures and miserable moments. The role of the musician is to uplift, inspire, and motivate us, especially in trying moments. During the pandemic when live concerts are not allowed, there have been many live-streaming concerts, an alternative for musicians to bring joy to others through their songs. The purpose is not mainly to raise funds for people in need but to provide music and entertainment to as many people as they can reach. Music heals wounded souls.”

“Back to Love” was chosen as the title because Dr. Monzon has seen “much negativity around us, deaths and sickness from the COVID -19, a variety of problems, fake news, dirty politics and natural calamities. Despite everything, we can only achieve peace if we go back to love others. We should not be a fertile ground for negative thoughts and unkind words. We should strive for a positive-seeking culture. We need love to feel secure that we will never be abandoned by a loving God. Music provides reconciliation, inner peace and serenity.”

As for the musicians, Virtucio holds a diploma in creative and performing musical arts from the University of the Philippines College of Music where he studied under Raymond Leslie Diaz and Lionel Guico. He participated in various recitals, concerts, musicals and operas, most notably in Felipe de Leon’s Noli Me Tangere.

He is a member of the Male Ensemble Philippines and has given vocal and choral workshops and lessons under the Andrea O. Veneracion Sing Philippines Foundation, Inc. He teaches at the Madz Music Studio.

Baritone Darwin Lomentigar

Baritone Darwin Lomentigar

Lomentigar has a diploma in industrial psychology and works as an administrative officer in a government institution. He has been a baritone of KM since 2007. KM is a parish-based choral group of Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Quezon City under the direction of Anthony Villanueva, an alumnus of the UST Singers.

Virtucio said, “One important lesson I have learned from singing is patience. One cannot rush his way to have a voice with good technique. A singer should really go through the process of learning. Trust is needed to succeed in the journey as a singer. Without full trust, a beginner may not be able to move forward.

As for Lomentigar, he said, “The main attributes that music taught me are consistency and discipline. These two major assets prevailed in singing in a group like KM and whenever I perform as a solo artist. Steadfastness and self-restraint in character come out naturally outside the choir when I deal with people in my workplace.”

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