August 4, 2013
Tonight, we had the opportunity to catch a rare event, the Reunion Concert of the "winningest" batch of the Philippine Madrigal Singers -- Madz '89. Madz '89 won 10 first prize awards in international choral competitions held in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Italy back then -- a truly stellar achievement.
This special concert is part of the ongoing celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the acclaimed singing group. This concert is on its second night tonight, held at the Auditorium of the Abelardo Hall, a building which is also celebrating its 50th year this year.
There were celebrities spotted in the audience. Ms. Irene Marcos Araneta was there. I also saw Mr. Ryan Cayabyab, also Moy and Sweet of The Company.
Before the start of the concert proper, noted baritone and choral conductor Jonathan Velasco took the mic and introduced all the singers on the stage, giving us information about what they are doing now, as well as some trivia about how they were back then. Many members of that batch are already acclaimed musicians from here and abroad, like Monet Silvestre, Jonathan Zaens, Sal Malaki, and of course, Jonathan Velasco.
The songs were introduced by means of a Powerpoint presentation overhead on stage. A short introduction was also given per song. Too bad the font was not too clear from the balcony area. After the introductions, the singers sat down and began the show.
As per most other Madz concerts, the first act was composed of serious art songs in different languages: German, Italian, French, Latin and English. These are some selected songs from the competition days back then. Among the more remarkable songs they sung were: "Trauergesang" by Felix Mendelssohn which was introduced as the song Germany remembers Madz '89 for up to now; and "Gloria (from Misa)" (VIDEO) by Ryan Cayabyab, which was hailed as an eclectic mix of cultures in a musical piece. This last song featured a remarkable tenor solo by the same soloist back in 1989, Edward Granadosin.
The second act is fun with more popular music. First the girls entered to sing a couple of songs by themselves, "Ang Aking Awitin" and "Waray Waray". Then the boys entered to sing by themselves as well, as the Haranistas. They sang "Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin" again with Edward Granadosin as soloist, which was amazing, to say the least. Then it was a hilarious song entitled "Sa Ilalim ng Punong Saging". Both songs garnered them standing ovations. The accompanying guitarist was Mr. Ed Nepomuceno, also a member.
They sang "Katakataka" (VIDEO) with an amusing use of deep bass voices in the arrangement. "Beeh ... Buti Nga" by the Hotdog was given an amazing acapella arrangement by Annie Nepomuceno. Florante's "Handog" (VIDEO) was dedicated to the Madz's recently departed mother, National Artist for Music, Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion, whom they lovingly call "Ma'am OA". The final song of their regular set was "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas" by Willy Cruz.
Of course the audience would not just let them go that easily, and demanded for encores. The Madz graciously and generously obliged with four. The first song was "L'important c'est la Rose" (VIDEO) featuring clear flawless flute-like whistling by Mr. Sal Malaki. Malaki also led the Madz in their next song, doing a soaring solo for Paul McCartney's "Yesterday". Another Beatles classic followed with "Let It Be," this one beautifully arranged by Ryan Cayabyab.
The final encore number was a performance of song legendary among the Madz entitled "Italian Salad", a comedy number featuring solos by Jonathan Zaens, Jonathan Velasco, Edward Granadosin and a particularly funny exasperated performance by Armando "Boyong" Robles grasping at the high notes. This hilarious number ended this memorable concert on a very high and joyful note. Looking forward to the 75th anniversary concert! Congratulations to Madz '89!