This morning I was invited by my friends at PETA to bring my kids over to the PETA Theater for a special FREE event for children that will feature the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) and their CONCERT FOR THE YOUTH. Unfortunately, my kids were all very exhausted from the musical theater recital we attended the night before. They were not able to wake up early enough for this 10am event. Lucky it was a Thursday so I was able to sneak this in before I went to work. The PPO is the premiere orchestra in the country and is acknowledged as one of the best in Asia. Initially established May 15, 1973 to accompany visiting artists at the CCP, the PPO will already be celebrating its 40th year next year.
When I entered the auditorium, the entire center orchestra area was occupied by empty chairs for the strings section. You can see the cellos and contra-basses there on the floor. The stage contained the woodwinds, the brass and the percussion instruments. It was good to note that there were several kids in the theater this morning, such that the most of the raised seats on the main floor and the on the balconies were occupied. Among the audience was National Artist for Visual Arts, Mr. Napoleon Abueva.
After the National Anthem, a man in a blue shirt went center stage to talk about today's show. He introduced himself as Mr. Hermie Ranera who would be conductor for the national orchestra of the Philippines, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. He then introduced each of the instrument sections one by one. He started with the First and Second Violins, then the Violas, the Cellos and finally the Contra-basses of the Strings section. He then introduced the audience to the Woodwind section, starting with the Flute, the Oboe, the Clarinet and finally the Bassoon. After that, it was the turn of the Brass section, starting with the French horns, the Trumpets, the Trombones and the Tuba. Finally, he introduced the Percussion section with the Bass Drum, the Snare Drum, the Tympani, Cymbals, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, and the Triangle. It was interesting to see the members of the orchestra all wearing casual street clothes, instead of the stuffy black formal suits they wear when we see them at the CCP.
After we learned about each instrument and heard how they sounded individually, it was now time for the concert proper where we can hear them all sound together. The first number was George Bernard Green's "Overture on Philippine Folksongs."
After this nostalgic musical piece, we came to the meat of the concert, a performance of Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 symphonic tale "Peter and the Wolf." The narrator / story teller was resident PETA actor Abner Delina, Jr. He would talk to the audience and relate the story in Pilipino. This was originally conceptualized as a folk story that was told by the musical sounds of the various instruments, each representing a different character in the story. Peter was represented by the Strings section while his grandfather was represented by the bassoon. As for the animals in the woods around Peter's house: the wolf was the horns, the bird was the flute, the duck was the oboe and the cat was the clarinet. The hunters were represented by the tympani. The interactive story of the spoken word and music was quite delightful and interesting. The following video shows a short excerpt:
It was too bad that the session just ended abruptly after the performance of the second number, without closing remarks. I did not know even it was already over. I would have liked to know how the kids in the audience appreciated the lesson or not. But as there was no concluding interactive session with the kids, I will just hope these youngsters learn to appreciate this type of classical music as much as they would the more accessible pop music. Nevertheless, kudos to the CCP, PPO and PETA for their continuing outreach programs to provide Arts Education to all. Who knows, one of the kids in the audience this morning could make a decision to play one of the instruments he saw today, and be a member of the future PPO?