The Inbox

Another corporate orchestra is born

ABS-CBN orchestra under Gerard Salonga

By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

CONDUCTOR Gerard Salonga was in his usual high spirits when he announced the formation of the ABS CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.

"As you can see, we have a new home and a new partner which can help us spread the joy of music," said Salonga as the new orchestra regaled the audience with orchestral music from classical masters to Broadway favorites including a Ryan Cayabyab arrangement of "Maalaala Mo Kaya" which calls to mind the network's long-running and high-rating TV drama anthology.

With some 40 instrumentalists in it, the ABS CBN orchestra has Mickey Munoz for its executive director. Apart from the network, the orchestra also has the support of the First Philippine Holdings Corporation.

For now, Salonga's rehearsal and performance venue is the Dolphy Theater within the TV network compound.

The good news is that the orchestra will not be limited to corporate work with the network and its sister company, Star Cinema. "We aim to bring live orchestral performance closer to the Filipinos and give them an option of what to listen to," Salonga added.

In so short a time, Salonga has made significant forays into the country's music world enough to know its promise and potentials and its hazards as well.

After graduating at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he received Berklee's Contemporary Writing and Production Achievement Award, Gerard had stints at Sony Pictures as an orchestrator and music copyist before  exploring Manila's music world in 1999.

His niche was music arrangement but he found out he was also excited about conducting. He started by leading an orchestra tied with Broadway musicals and soon enough, he had his own Filharmonika orchestra servicing not just Broadway musicals but handling film scoring as well. In 2006, he scored the musical soundtrack for the supernatural horror-thriller film, Ang Pamana, which had its world premiere at the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival.

But midway into the first season of the Filharmonika orchestra which had Cecile Licad as one of its formidable soloists, Salonga found out a private orchestra can only last so long without regular subsidy. He joined the CCP orchestra orchestra festival last year and got lots of insights as to how musicians live in this country.

The conductor has earlier pointed out: "I know the government has a lot of other things to think about, but the common problems all boil down to funding, funding, and funding. I think we should follow the German model in that sense which initiates state funding. In Hong Kong, it's not just the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra that receives government funding. The Hong Kong Sinfonietta and City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong also receive substantial financial support through the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. I also feel the government should bring back the program that sends deserving music students to Europe to study, then come back and play in the PPO."

Now with a new home and a new orchestra, Salonga marvels at the huge influence of a TV network which can help bring music to wider audiences. It took a lot from production budget to have anything classical aired on TV and out of the blue, classical music found a new home in that same big network. "I'll take the 'philosophical' route and say, 'Why not a TV orchestra? Everyone here knows the reach of ABS-CBN.  Think about it, how many times would we have to fill up a concert hall to be seen by the same number of people who'd see us on one TV appearance? The power of this network to make this orchestra known to people is something I'm still trying to fathom."

Salonga said the network has approved his outreach programs that will give both kids and adults a chance to experience a medium not easily accessible to all.  The inaugural gala will be  held on August 18 , 7 p.m. with pianist Jovianney Emmanuel Cruz as soloist in Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Philamlife Theater on United Nations Avenue in Manila.

What is in store for the newly recruited musicians in this new orchestra?

For one, the wage for musicians at ABS CBN orchestra is decent and second, they were given very good rehearsal space.

He elaborates: "The acoustics of the Dolphy Theater were designed by Mike Pedero, and it has that scoring-stage feel to it and at the same time, it is perfect for rehearsal, not too reverberant.  So far, every rehearsal has been targeted at a performance.  One of the goals is to not have rehearsals that are not directly aimed at a specific performing event.  The result?  Concentration is higher, and we feel that anxiety that all musicians need, and can only get when preparing for a performance.  In September we'll have a new office here with rehearsal and practice rooms.  The musicians are looking forward to that."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Catholics organize to promote pope's climate change message

    NEW YORK (AP) — There will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines. …

  • Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored
    Forgotten for decades, fallen NY soldier finally honored

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Carroll Heath didn't have it easy growing up in the Great Depression. His father wasn't around, his mother was a patient in a mental hospital and he kept largely to himself. Soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army and wound up in the Philippines, where he's believed to have died sometime in 1942. …

  • APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda
    APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda

    Trade ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Boracay, Aklan agreed yesterday to endorse the proposed Boracay Action Agenda to the member countries’ leaders, presenting opportunities for global trade for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In a press conference following the conclusion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, who also served as chairman, said ministers agreed to recommend the adoption of the …

  • Talks with China over sea row urged
    Talks with China over sea row urged

    The Philippines should engage China in bilateral talks in its efforts to maintain peace and order at the disputed West Philippine Sea, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday. Escudero supports the government’s move to bring the issue before international arbitration but also stressed the need for the Philippines to pursue talks with China. Escudero made the statement after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. …

  • House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills
    House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills

    The House committee on national defense is deliberating on a measure mandating the regular conduct of disaster risk reduction drills in educational institutions nationwide. Authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the bill mandates that risk reduction drills be held annually in all educational institutions throughout the country in coordination with the schools’ respective local government units. “The Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator …

  • PCSO running out of funds
    PCSO running out of funds

    Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman Ireneo Maliksi has admitted that the revenue-generating agency is running out of funds as it continues with its mandate to provide financial assistance to indigent Filipinos. Aside from providing financial help to individual recipients, Maliksi cited at least 13 laws that mandates the PCSO to provide mandatory contribution to different government agencies. Just last week, PCSO released P100 million to the Commission on Higher Education as …

  • Cops receive mid-year bonus
    Cops receive mid-year bonus

    Active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP)have received their mid-year bonuses. The PNP has released P1.9 billion for the mid-year bonus of the 155,000 active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. The Directorate for Comptrollership released P1,933,664,893.50 through the Finance Service and subsequently credited to the individual ATM payroll accounts of active duty uniformed and non-uniformed personnel. …

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options