At an age when they are prone to be preoccupied with everything that the golden age of Internet has to offer, these young people turn to music after their regular classes in their respective schools. They are the 30-strong members of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra, the ages of whom range from 9 to 18.
Conductor Jeffrey Solares earlier told this writer that the MSO Junior Orchestra is barely three years old and was a project borne out of a desire to invest on the young. “When you invest in children, you shouldn’t expect to see immediate returns. But with their involvement in the MSO Junior Orchestra, the rewards come many times over. First, they get trained as musicians, second they get performance opportunities for assorted audiences and they have good chances of joining a professional orchestra depending on their progress as individual musicians.”
But, for the orchestra’s CCP debut on Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m., the young musicians are playing for a good cause, and that is to raise P1 million for their future home, the MSO Recital Hall at Circuit Lane in Circuit Makati (formerly the Sta. Ana racetrack).
The young musicians performed in one concert in Baguio City in summer this year and the highland audiences were amply rewarded.
By and large, it was a first-rate music treat experienced at some 5,000 ft. above sea level with the good acoustics of the Hill Station hall giving listeners a sensurround experience.
The event had everyone raving about the junior orchestra and its equally exciting young soloists.
The Mozart violin soloists (at one movement each) drew euphoric applause and several rounds of bravos. Emmanuel John Villarin was highly promising and his musicality was way above musicians his age.
With unusual sonority required of its interpreters, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 is not for kids. It requires more than a solid tone and a kind of musicianship that will allow him to feel the orchestra parts with ease. Musicians agree this concerto is the most immediately scintillating of the five.
Villarin showed palpable confidence even in his cadenza and with the orchestra ending the first movement, showing a great promise for this 12-year-old violinist.
From the quality of their playing in Baguio City, you begin to have more hope for this country even as the political landscape is getting surreal every day of the week.
The profiles of the members of the junior orchestra reflect various interests with love for music as the common denominator.
Probably the youngest in the orchestra is nine-year-old Damodar das Castillo who started playing at age five and whose music favorites range from Shostakovich and Dvorak cello concertos to rock and heavy metal.
Concertmaster Jodeline Michaela P. Pecson, 17, started playing the violin at age four and is visibly excited by the orchestra’s CCP debut.
Her music favorites range from the Mendelssohn concerto to Gerard Way, rock and punk roc. She wants to graduate from a good conservatory with the highest honors.
She said, “It is nice to see that all our efforts are finally paying off. The grueling rehearsals in the last two months were indeed challenging and now we are finally playing for CCP audiences. I see the orchestra as one big happy family.”
Playing in the viola section is 17-year-old Angel Joyce Oñedo Esteban who started playing at age 13. She says playing for this event means a lot to her because the young musicians will have their own recital hall. “It is a feel-good experience and I am not likely to forget this. I believe music guides me to become a better person and to be of service to my fellow men. I also believe that music is one of the best tools in which we can inspire humanity to do good things. On the other hand, to learn music is for me a process in which you can discover your young life.”
For tickets to the Nov. 5 CCP concert of the MSO Junior Orchestra called “Strings Like Teen Spirit!” call TicketWorld at (02) 891-9999. Other engagements of the junior orchestra will be at Raffles-Fairmont Hotel (Nov. 10), UP Town Center (Dec. 17) and Alabang Town Center (Dec. 18).