Music and history had an edifying moment Friday night in Iloilo City when the Manila Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Arturo Molina performed at the historic Molo Church constructed in 1831.
After an evening of Bach and Beatles, over a thousand Ilonggos led by Senator Franklin Drilon gave the orchestra a rousing standing ovation. It marked the first time a symphony orchestra was heard in Molo Church.
“Music has charm and it contributes to the refinement of the soul,” said Drilon in his welcome remarks. He noted that he was baptized in the same church 72 years ago. “This concert will surely bring back the cultural glory of Iloilo City,” he added.
The concert was one of the cultural events lined up for the celebration of the 80th Charter Day of Iloilo City. On August 25, 1937, President Manuel L. Quezon signed Commonwealth Act No. 158 declaring Iloilo a charter city.
Lending musical nostalgia to the concert was the presence of violinist Gilopez Kabayao who conducted the MSO in its first Iloilo concert in 1985. With him was his wife, Corazon Pineda Kabayao who was MSO soloist in the performance of a Liszt concerto on the same year.
Another Ilonggo member of the orchestra, Jeremiah Sosa, was soloist in the orchestral arrangement of the Beatles favorite, “Yesterday” He was only three years old when he watched the Iloilo MSO concert in 1985.
The concert opened with Gounod’s Sanctus performed by the San Pedro Calungsod de Molo Choir under choir director Karl Oelaf. The tenor soloist was visibly nervous as he struggled to release his high notes of the solo part.
Nevertheless, the Molo Church was a perfect setting for Bach’s well-received pieces like Sleeper’s Awake (from Cantata No. 148), Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring and Sheep May Safely Graze, among others.
Thoroughly inspired was the reading of Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor with excellent soloists Noreen Ann Yambao and Danielle Caballero.
It was capped with Bach’s Orchestra Suite No. 1 in B Minor (Minuet and Badinerie) with flutist Francisco Candelaria.
The concert ended with a medley of Beatles songs with the audience virtually singing in the orchestral arrangement of Hey Jude.
Also present in the concert was Iloilo City Mayor Patrick Mabilog who was happy with the big audience turn out. He cites among his achievements in the cultural front the preservation of important heritage sites in the city known earlier as the Queen City of the South.
The concert was presented by Sen. Drilon in his private capacity with help from the city businessmen among them Alfonso Tan who donated 38 air conditioning units for Molo Church. Among the sponsors is the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc.