A new symphony orchestra for Cebu

Jenara Regis Newman

THE Cebu Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (CMSO) had its inaugural launching last Jan. 11 at the Siddhartha Theater of the Guang Ming Institute of Performing Arts. Pianist Dr. Ingrid Sala Santamaria was the guest artist.

The orchestra came about when Reynaldo Abellana felt the need for an avenue for the many talented classical musicians of Cebu to showcase their artistry to the Cebuano public via a complete orchestra. He asked the help of the Magdadaro sisters—Hazel M. Sanchez and Hannah M. Go—who he knew would readily give assistance as they themselves are talented musicians. With the sisters’ business acumen, Abellana was sure the orchestra he and the sisters envisioned would be a success.

Abellana said CMSO aims to unite Cebu’s musical talents under one umbrella without abandoning their own musical groups. At the launching, there were talents from the Classic Youth Orchestra, Adventist Academy Cebu Orchestra, JRG Visayanian Halad Orchestra, GBC Mandaue Chamber Orchestra, University of Southern Philippines Foundation’s Magno Aquino, NPO 7 Spirit Orchestra, Francis Balo Music Studio, Virtuoso School of Music and Ateneo Blue Orchestra headed Juliet Kim.

The 16 members of the group, including Abellana and the Magdadaros, are products of the 10-year Music Development Program of the Salvador and Pilar Sala Foundation Inc. (SPSFI). Two Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) representatives, who taught at the SPSFI program, were so excited about the new orchestra, that they flew to Cebu at their own expense to play at the orchestra’s inaugural concert: Chiharu Nagakita (trombone) and Masatomo Toyoda (cello).

At the inaugural concert, Dr. Santamaria played “Piano Concerto in A. Minor, Op. 54” by R. Schumann with Abellana conducting the orchestra. Guest conductor professor Felicito Sacdalan from Bulacan conducted the other numbers of the program: Beethoven’s “Symphony No. I in C major, 1st movement,” G. Rossini’s “Barber of Seville Overture,” B. Green’s “Overture of Philippine Folk Songs,” C. Schonberg’s “Selections from Les Miserables,” K. Badelt’s “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Anderson’s “Fiddle Faddle” and “This Is the Moment” with Ritchie Asibal as soloist.

Pastor Seth Esmeralda led the opening prayer at the concert while Hannah Go welcomed the guests with Hazel Sanchez hosting the event. Dr. Santamaria made the closing remarks. Music arranger was Niño James Banares and music director was Abellana.

Abellana said CMSO is open to all musicians who wish to join it provided they pass certain requirements. The group is already planning for its annual two concerts in 2020, the dates for which will depend on the schedules of two foreign conductors willing and eager to come to Cebu at their own expense to conduct the fledgling orchestra.