by Romi Beza
August 11, 2017 — The world-renown Philippine Madrigal Singers, fondly known as the Madz, opened their two-month 2017 USA concert series with a tour de force concert co-sponsored by the UPAANC Berkeley chapter and Music Repertoire at the Dean Lesher Center ForThe Arts in Walnut Creek. Showing no sign of fatigue from their long jet trip from the motherland just the prior day, the Madz came out strong by opening with two original songs that they sang in winning the Grand Prix award at the 64th International Choral Competition Polifonico Guido d’Arezzo held last August 2016 at Arezzo, Italy. That victory has qualified the Madz again for the prestigious 2017 European Grand Prix for Chorale Singing to be held later this year in Tolosa, Spain. The Madz is the first choir in the world to win the distinguished award twice. The first one was in 1997 under the helm of the esteemed and beloved Madz founder and Philippine National Artist Prof. Andrea Ofilada Veneracion. The second grand prix was in 2007 under Mrs. Veneracion’s protégé and current choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio. Will the 10 year magic repeat this year? Let us wish our music ambassadors good luck!
The Madz started the concert with the solemn but soaring Lux Aeterna before segueing into the uplifting Magnificat. Both liturgical songs were composed by the Madz’ resident arranger Ily Matthew Maniano, who was also a featured alto soloist later in the evening. The fourth song, La Guerre, was another song the Madz sang at last year’s victorious Arezzo competition. Perhaps the most familiar melody in the first half of the night’s program was the guitar-accompanied Comme d’Habitude, a melancholic French song about a stale relationship that was later adapted and popularized as the assertive Frank Sinatra valedictory anthem, My Way. An increasingly internationally-known Visayan song, the majestic Kruhay, by native son Benny Castillon capped the concert’s first hour with ethnic musical instruments accompanying the Madz’ powerful but harmonious vocals.
The second half of the concert featured more accessible popular music sang in the inimitable Madz style. Two classic Filipino songs, Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal and Sampaguita, opened the night’s second hour to the delight of the predominantly Filipino audience. The Madz then sang two contemporary American songs, Bruno Mars’ Marry You and John Legend’s All of Me, before featuring two O(riginal)P(ilipino)M(usic)s, Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak and the comic relief Nang Minahal Mo Ang Mahal Ko. Another popular international OPM choir piece, Ryan Cayabyab’s Da Coconut Nut, entertained the audience next. The Madz reprised another song, Whitney Houston’s Queen of the Night (featuring three operatic soprano solos), from their victorious 2016 Arezzo performance as their finale. Of course, as concerts go, the audience clamored for encores and the Madz obliged with two songs, notable of which was their ever-outstanding rendition of Elton John’s Circle of Life.
As in the previous two concerts sponsored (and co-sponsored with UPAANC Music Chair — and former Madz singer — Henry Torres’ music company, Music Repertoire), a pot luck dinner by an appreciative UPAANC Berkeley alumni board was held at the residence of interim chapter president Romi and Beng Beza in nearby Concord. Interestingly, there were quite a few Madz singers who remember being warmly hosted there when our chapter sponsored their concerts back in 2007 and 2011. Familiar alumni association officers as well in Raffi and Diosy Rey, Jay Castro, Daisy Rodriguez, Cherry and Lito Utleg, Ceny Duldulao, Evelyn Balancio, Henry Fajardo, Alexis Zulueta, Edna Victorino and Vangie Quesada, among others, contributed to make the undertaking a success. Such dedication to both art and the alumni association over the years!
Again, best wishes to Mark and the Madz on the upcoming European Grand Prix Chorale Competition at Tolosa, Spain! Thank you again for another enchanted evening! Kruhay (Long Live!), Philippine Madrigal Singers!
Click (then Save and Open) on the hyperlinks below to view some songs at the concert!