UP is a musical hub, as it is a leader in culture and the arts with its many scholar artists, national artists, and bright young talents. But not resting on its laurels, it also invites and attracts world-class musicians, exposing the public to the best, and inspiring UP’s own.
UP recently forged partnerships with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), the resident orchestra of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which is regarded as one of the top musical ensembles in the Asia-Pacific region. With the University as host, it has brought live symphonic music to the public for free.
A collaboration early this year resulted in a public performance that exceeded expectations. The concert “Simulain at Pangarap” rivaled the UP Diliman Lantern Parade and general commencement exercises in audience size. The live concert on March 23, 2018 was one of the few instances in which the UP Quezon Hall Amphitheater was filled with people for an evening of symphonic orchestral music under the moon and stars.
“Seeing people here is heartening,” UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said in his welcome remarks. “The turnout tells us people will come,” he added.
“Your presence is most important,” Tan then told PPO. “It is bringing music to the communities and not keeping it within the Cultural Center.”
The concert began with PPO’s version of “Lupang Hinirang” just after sunset. It ended with Professor Ramon Acoymo, the program coordinator for UP, singing “UP Naming Mahal”. The crowd applauded the classics “Overture to Gillaume Tell” and “Waves of the Danube Waltz” just as warmly as it did selections from the modern-day musicals Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. Symphonic music roused all ages familiar with the Indiana Jones and Star Wars themes, and Aegis, Itchyworms, and APO Hiking Society tunes. The familiar “Three Coins in the Fountain”, “Despacito”, and “Baby Shark” were similarly played for the crowd’s entertainment.
Many hope that UP’s partnerships with PPO will lead to UP’s establishing its own symphony orchestra. UP has a number of in-house instrumental ensembles, including the UP Symphonic Band, and a UP Orchestra which played side by side the UST Symphony Orchestra in the “No Match” concert in February 2015. The concert featured Herminigildo Ranera, conductor of UST and PPO, and UP’s own Edna Marcil Martinez.
Ranera, in an interview with UP Forum during the press conference in August 2018 for the PPO’s 45th anniversary and 36th concert season, said he envisions more collaboration between UP and the PPO.
The two institutions are currently working on a free public concert set for December 8, 2018. This was announced in the same press conference by Cultural Center of the Philippines President Arsenio Lizaso and its Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado. The conference, held in the Manila Hotel, ended with UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay Jr. signing a contract with the PPO for the UP concert in December.
The PPO will thus play for the second time on the Diliman campus and for the third time in the University in a year. It has also held concerts in the UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital, giving back to the Filipino community represented by hospital patients, caregivers, health workers and visitors. It played soothing orchestral music that was much appreciated in the bustling public hospital.
“CCP is bringing art to the people. We are the players, but the art belongs to you,” Lizaso said more than once during the press conference.
The public will get a grand serving of that art in the coming December evening event. PPO will join in UP’s traditional Christmas concert which culminates in Handel’s “Messiah”. PPO and 130 UP voices, in a rare collaboration, will play and sing one of the grandest and best-known choral and orchestral works of Western music, on a green expanse under the stars. It will be a treat befitting UP’s celebration of the Christmas season.