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.

  • EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing
    EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has given Thailand six months to drastically crack down on illegal and unregulated fishing or face an EU seafood import ban, but has lifted the threat of similar action against South Korea and the Philippines. …

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault. The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. …

  • Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines
    Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault vehicle with Philippine and U.S. troops on board storms the beach during a joint exercise at the Naval Education and Training Command center in Zambales province, northwest of Manila. The Zambales shore faces the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese vessels were reported to have driven away Filipino fishermen with a water cannon and seized some of their catch in early April. Philippine military officials say the maneuvers with …

  • Pinoy team wins global disaster preparedness competition

    The Philippines was one of the big winners at the 2015 Global Innovation Competition last week for a cloud-based information system for disaster. The project, called "Balangay," is the brainchild of cousins Frei Sangil and Paolo Sangil. …

  • How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map
    How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map

    Bitcoin is a global phenomenon, but not everyone around the world uses it in the same way. Here in Asia, the way a person from the Philippines uses bitcoin is probably very different from how it’s used in Thailand, and both are very different from the typical user in Taiwan. Despite bitcoin being hailed as …

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media
    Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media

    The Philippines is nothing more than the "cute little submissive" of the United States, a Chinese tabloid with close ties to the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, criticising Manila for military exercises with Washington. The English-language editorial came a day after the Philippines launched giant 10-day war games with the US and Australia, partly aimed as a warning shot to Beijing amid competing claims in the South China Sea, home to vital shipping routes. "Of all the countries …

  • Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China
    Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China

    The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defences, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief General Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training", when Foreign …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options