Filipino youth orchestra strikes gold anew in Vienna music fest

The winning streak of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO) continued after it struck gold in the youth orchestra category B of the Vienna-based World Youth Festival which transpired June 12-26, 2021.

The festival -- which went online because of the pandemic -- had some 140 orchestras from 33 countries participating with video entries.

MSJO under Jeffrey Solares submitted a video of their 2019 performance at the Youngsan Art Hall in Seoul, Korea playing three movements from Dvorak’s Serenade in E.

The MSJO 2019 performance in South Korea. Second to none. Photo from MSJO.

Noted jury member Prof. Arthur Fegan, music director of Atlanta Opera: "The technical level of the MSJO, the spirit, the precision of the ensemble is all exemplary.I can’t imagine a better performance."

The silver prize for youth category B went to Pui Ching Middle School Macao String Orchestra while the bronze prize went to Cricket Chamber Orchestra from Canada and Joven Promusica Orchestra from Spain.

MSJO conductor Jeffrey Solares acknowledged the big help of the Standard Insurance for their continued support as principal sponsor as well as all the parents, teachers and families who supported the orchestra’s mission of discovering and nurturing the Filipino youth and providing them an opportunity to shine in the world stage.

The MSJO earlier won first prize in the 2018 Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival also in Vienna.

Conductor Solares said that by providing the best environment for young musicians to hone their talents, you also get the best from them. “We provide a good environment for serious study and at the same time encourage deep respect and friendship among the students. We don’t play favorite even if some talents stand out from the rest.”

The late president Noynoy Aquino with the MSJO in 2014. Photo from MSJO.

Another key to good performance is by providing young musicians exposures to different activities during the year. “They get busy with recitals, music camps, chamber music and masterclasses, among others.We remain positive that in spite of the pandemic, we can continue making music in different ways and continue to make people happy with our music through various online platforms.”

The conductor said the pursuit of excellence is its own main motivator among aspiring young artists. “We are thankful that there are a few festivals and activities that we can still continue to participate in and show the world the kind of talents we have. We don’t encourage musicians who are only after the trappings of fame and ego tripping.”

Since its establishment in 2014, the MSJO have had public performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Museong Pambata, the Ayala Museum, the the Corporate Center Auditorium Insular Life Tower Filinvest Alabang and the open-air Auditorium at Rizal Park, among others.

The World Orchestra Festival established in 2013 aims to provide a platform for all kinds of orchestras and ensembles to perform, learn, compete, communicate and establish deep friendship with fellow musicians regardless of age, origin, religion and cultural backgrounds.

Among those who participated from 140 countries were symphonic orchestras, chamber music orchestras, folk music orchestras, wood and brass bands, marching bands, percussion ensembles, jazz bands and ensembles of various types.

The festival organizers pointed out competition is not the ultimate goal of the World Orchestra Festival. Its main objective to encourage further development of the orchestras and their members.

MSJO conductor Jeffrey Solares. Sustained training and a good environment for young musicians yielded good results.

The festival is organized annually in Vienna each year, supported by the Austrian federal government authorities, the city government of Vienna, provincial government of Burgenland, the famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir, Haydn Foundation and the Liszt Cultural Center, among others.

Among the members of the jury are Prof. Helmut Zehetner, conductor Neil Varon and conductor Arthur Fagen, Mark Pogolski (musical director of Hochschule fur Musik and Theater in Munich).

Solares pointed out the MSJO is not the usual school-based orchestra but a product of rigid selection of the best young musicians in the country. “We put them through a serious year-long training program. The support of Standard Insurance in terms of training scholarships, quality instruments, opportunities to train and travel abroad, are all factors that help us provide the best motivation and environment for the young musicians.”

(This article is carried also by ABS-CBN News online)


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