Express Week

Philippine Chamber Rondalla of NJ edifies audience at Montclair State University Show

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Hillsborough, NJ - "I am so glad I came to the concert.  I came with no expectation but support for the Philippine Chamber Rondalla of New Jersey’s commitment to rondalla music as an expression of Filipino culture. 

What I got from the concert was confirmation of the gentleness and kindness of Filipinos' ways of asserting freedom, justice, love, affection and healing that are authentic to Filipino ways of being,” reflected Grace Asagra Stanley, Founder & President of Princeton-based Web of Compassion, after watching PCR-NJ’s concert last Saturday, December 7, at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University.  She added: “I appreciate the "story-telling" on global trading and its influences on Filipino music.  If music was taught this way in school when I was growing up, I would have chosen to pursue music education.”

The concert Ms. Stanley was gushing about was “Musical Journey: Struggles for Cultural Identity”, the culminating educational program accompanying the “Triumph of Philippine Art” exhibit at MSU’s Segal Gallery.  In line with the theme of the exhibit, which presented art works from the imposition of Martial Law in the Philippines in 1972 through today, PCR-NJ formulated a program that expounded on music epitomizing key events in the Filipinos’ struggle to define their identity in their own terms.  The mood of the program was set with the juxtaposition of Constancio De Guzman’s “Bayan Ko” (“My Homeland”) and Felipe Padilla De Leon’s “Bagong Lipunan” (“March of the New Society”).  Program facilitator, Michael Dadap, described the former as almost a second national anthem, written in the kundiman song form so close to every Filipino’s heart, and the latter as one imposed by the repressive Marcos regime.  The capacity crowd, both Filipinos and non-Filipinos, heartily sang the reprise of “Bayan Ko” that closed the program.

In addition to presenting information about Philippine music and compelling facts about each of the selections, Michael Dadap played classical guitar to accompany mezzo-soprano, Aida Gamboa, on a couple of numbers, and played a few duets with solo bandurrist, Leonor Llorin Paliguin.  Of Ms. Paliguin’s performance, another audience member, Roberto Ticzon, commented: "Up until I heard the virtuoso soloist play the bandurria, I had always considered it a folk instrument. Now, I know that in the hands of a master, it is a classical instrument on par with the others. Just as Andres Segovia elevated the status of the guitar, hopefully Ms. Paliguin will do likewise to the bandurria.”

PCR-NJ will next be sharing its gift of music with the congregation of the Assembly of God in Elizabeth, NJ, on Sunday, December 22.

The Filipino Express

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