MSJO is second best in Vienna International Youth music fest

Conductor Jeffrey Solares with members of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra in Vienna. A triumphant and auspicious Vienna debut. Photo from the FB post of Jeffrey Solares.

The barely three-year old Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO) under the baton of Jeffrey Solares won second place in the string orchestra category of the 11th Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival in Vienna.

The competition was held Saturday July 6 at the famous Golden Hall of the Musikverein considered one of the best concert halls in the world.

“We all feel blessed just being here in Europe and having this opportunity to play in all these wonderful venues. Winning in the competition is just a bonus for us,” said conductor Solares who noted that the founders of the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) all came from the city of Vienna which is synonymous with the names of Mozart and Beethoven.

The MSO was founded by a Viennese musician named Alexander Lippay in 1926 and later nurtured by Viennese musician and concentration camp survivor Herbert Zipper whose life was the subject of a documentary nominated in the Oscar awards.

The MSJO rehearsed at the Brahms Hall of the Musikverein before their first appearance at the Golden Hall the excellent acoustics of which stunned the MSJO conductor.

“The entire building was a veritable temple for classical music. What a great privilege and life experience to perform and conduct an orchestra of young Filipinos in these halls where Brahms, Mahler, Furtwangler, Bernstein, Dudamel and many great artists have performed!,” Solares said.

The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna. A veritable temple of classical music. Photo by Arnold Josue.

“And the acoustics made you feel you are so brilliant and you don’t want to stop playing at all. The hall was constructed like a musical instrument that was designed to enhance the sound of your own instrument,” he added.

The MSJO played a 25-minute program that included Mozart’s Divertimento in D (the contest piece), Bartok’s Rumanian Folk Dances, Cayabyab’s “Ondoy Ondoy” which was specially composed for MSJO's European concert tour.

The competition finale was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

The Filipino youth musicians’ performance was greeted with a long applause one of the judges had to wait for the cheers to die down before he could deliver his message. Noting the orchestra’s excellent preparation, the judge gave thanks to the Philippine delegation and commended the MSJO soloists.

The result of the competition was done in private by festival artistic director Jurgen Partaj who will officially announce the winners on Tuesday July 11 in the winners’ concert at the Vienna Concert Hall.

With the Philippine delegation was Ernesto "Judz" Echauz, chairman of Standard Insurance Group of Companies which is the main sponsor along with Ayala Malls.

Earlier, the members of the MSJO attended the opening ceremonies at the St. Stephen Cathedral where Mozart got married and where he received the last rites when he died at the age of 35.They also visited the Mozart house in the historic city.

The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra at the St. Stephen Cathedral where Mozart got married and where he received the last rites when he died at age 35. Photo from the FB post of Sara Gonzales.

Now on its 11th year, the Summa Cum Laude Youth Music Festival in Viennaaims to bring into focus the next global musical generation composed of the best choirs, orchestras and symphonic bands from Australia, Canada, USA, Israel, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines, Thailand, Denmark and Spain, among others.

The main objective of the festival is to provide a truly international environment where thousands of young musicians can reconnect with the universal language of music and enjoy intercultural exchanges and build bridges that span continents.

Solares reflected on their Vienna sojourn: “In 1924, a man from Vienna, Dr. Alexander Lippay, came to Manila to establish the tradition of symphonic music in our country, founding one of the first orchestras in Asia, the Manila Symphony Orchestra. In 1939, he was succeeded by another Viennese, Dr. Herbert Zipper, who continued the leadership of this orchestra and establish its place in our country's musical history. Setting foot in Vienna for the first time with young Filipino musicians, indeed we have come full circle. We come all the way from the Philippines representing our more than 7,000 islands, our great tourist attractions, our passion for the arts, and our warm smiles. Our experience here in Europe is a learning experience we cannot just find in any book. Imagine playing in these beautiful and historic concert halls! Attending workshops by great musicians and mentors! Breathing in the air from the very place where all this music was made. This is a valuable experience we will treasure for the rest of our lives.”

The MSJO will also perform tomorrow at the Concert Hall, home of the Vienna Boys Choir with an outreach program being planned at Kolpinghaus, a home for seniors in Vienna.

Another performance is due in Prague on July 12 at the Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum, then at Munich on July 14 at the Sopiensaal on Jul 15 before they return to the Philippines on July 16.


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