LAS PIÑAS City, Feb. 19, 2014—The world-famous Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas will take center stage again this year as concert aficionados from across the Philippines and from overseas gather together at the Saint Joseph Parish grounds for five nights of musical extravaganza.
Now on its 39th year, the Bamboo Organ Music Festival has been showcasing world-class performances by Filipino talents and foreign artists since 1975 after the Bamboo Organ’s triumphant homecoming from a major restoration work in Germany.
The international music festival has attracted guests from different parts of the world—from lovers of music to organists who want to play the instrument.
“Every year, we are reminding everyone that the Bamboo Organ, which is a Philippine national treasure, is in its best condition, and to show what we can get out of this wonderful instrument: a high-level of music-making,” said Bamboo Organ titular organist Dr. Armando Salarza.
“The Bamboo Organ is a testament to the country’s rich culture, one that is owned by every Filipino like the Statue of Liberty in the US or the Eiffel Tower in France,” he added.
This annual musical is organized by the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.(Bofi), a non-stock, non-profit organization which oversees the preservation and maintenance of the historic Bamboo Organ.
It is made possible through the concerted efforts of ordinary Las Piñas residents who make up the various festival committees.
Many of these residents are parishioners of the St. Joseph Church which houses the organ.
Bofi also engages in the spiritual, educational, and social enrichment of the people of Las Piñas City, and the promotion of homegrown talents like Dr. Armando Salarza, the Las Piñas Boys Choir, other local choirs, classical artists, orchestras, and other instrumentalists.
The theme of this year’s concert—“Siglo de Oro”—pays tribute to Spain’s Golden Age.
This was a period in the 16th century which saw the Philippines’ former colonizer, Spain, in a state of “cultural flowering”, especially in the fields of visual arts and literature.
This age bred Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, painters Diego Velasquez and El Greco, dramatists Calderón de la Barca and Lope de Vega, and mystics Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Ignatius of Loyola.
The festival opens on Feb. 20 (Thursday) with a gala concert featuring music from the Spanish Golden Age.
It will highlight the secular and sacred villacincos from the Late Renaissance to the Baroque period.
Every year, Bofi invites organists from different countries to showcase not only their expertise but also the magnificence of the Bamboo Organ and the SJA auditorium organ to the Filipino audience.
Most of these musicians have given workshops on pipe organs to those interested to learn how to play the instrument.
Among the performers are American Colin Andrews and Dr. Salarza on the organ, the Villancico Vocal Ensemble, the Las Piñas Boys Choir, Musika Sophia, German guitarist Carsten Linck, with Eudenice Palaruan as conductor.
Repeat concerts will be held on Feb. 21 (Friday) and 26 (Wednesday), and will be open to the public.
The “Concert under the Trees” on Feb. 22 (Saturday) will be showcasing contemporary music from the World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCPA) artists, to be led by WCPA first grand champion Jed Madela.
Andrews will perform again on Feb. 23 (Sunday) in the “Evening of Organ Music,” in which he will be playing Spanish compositions on the bamboo organ and compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach on the Saint Joseph Academy (SJA) auditorium organ.
Andrews is an adjunct professor of music (organ) from Indiana University.
Two of the country’s “surviving” boys choirs—Tiples de Sto. Domingo Boys Choir and the Las Piñas Boys Choir—will be on stage on Feb. 25 concert for the “Night of the Two Boys Choirs”.
They will be performing the world premiere of Tago-Tago by Jed Balsamo and Duo Seraphim by Joy Nilo.
The Tiples de Sto. Domingo Boys Choir conducted by Eugene de los Santos and the Las Piñas Boys Choir conducted by Carl Paolo Hernandez will be accompanied by Armando Salarza on the Bamboo Organ.
Salarza shared that maintaining a boys choir is different and apparently more difficult than that of a children’s choir because of the onset of puberty.
He explained that he wants a Filipino to be playing the Bamboo Organ, and he is on the lookout for the next generation of passionate musicians to take over from him. (Raymond A. Sebastián)
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