If paintings need a museum to be viewed, musical instruments need a festival to be heard—and a musician to play them. In the case of Las Piñas City’s International Bamboo Organ Festival, one man is owed for his immense contribution in making the music fest a success.
The 42nd year of the Organ Festival honors Professor Armando Salarza, the titular organist of the country’s only bamboo organ for 25 years. Aside from being the 200-year-old musical instrument’s organist, Salarza, who studied under Johann Trummer, is also the choirmaster of the Las Piñas Boys Choir.
“Admirable is the fact that he stayed in the Philippines, knowing that it would have been much easier for him to build a career abroad,” said the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc. in a statement.
But his love for the pipe organ has driven him to work for the future of young musicians and the musical instrument itself, teaching Organ at St. Scholastica College of Conservatory of Music and UP College of Music.
This year’s festival, happening on Feb. 16 to 22, features five foreign performers, the Spanish instrument cornett, and the new pipe organ of San Ezekiel Moreno Oratory (SEMO) designed by Filipino organ builder Cealwyn Tagle and made by Diego Cera Organ Builders, Inc.
Coming to the Philippines for the Bamboo Organ festival are organist Luc Ponet from Belgium, flutist Raphael Leone from Austria, guitarist Carsten Linck from Germany, cornett player Lambert Colson from France, and organist and Salarza’s mentor Trummer also from Austria.
To serenade the VIP guests on the Gala Night (“Ensalada de Natividad”) on Feb. 16 at Las Piñas Church are the Villancico Vocal Ensemble and the Las Piñas Boys Choir, in a program of German, Spanish and Latin American Baroque music. Up-and-coming talent Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng will conduct their performance this year. Previous conductor Eudenice Palaruan, meanwhile, arranged the Filipino villancico “Parvulus filius” for this occasion.
Musika Sophia, Ponet (playing the bamboo organ), Colson (cornett), Leone (flute), Linck (guitar), Renato Lucas (cello) and Salarza (organ and harpsichord) will provide the instrumental intermissions during the two-hour concert.
A repeat program of the opening night is scheduled on Feb. 17.
The open court of the Las Piñas Church will serve as the stage for “Concert Under The Trees” on Feb. 18. The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of conductor Herminigildo Ranera will perform alongside soprano Stephanie Quintin, singer Morissette Amon, Leone and Linck.
On Feb. 19, a Festival Mass to be presided by Bishop Jess Mercado of the Diocese of Parañaque is scheduled at the SEMO. This will mark the debut of the new pipe organ, with the Las Piñas Boys Choir (conducted by Salarza) performing the “Little Organ Mass” composed by Franz J. Hydn with Trummer on the organ.
Ponet, attending the festival for the fourth time, will hold his organ recital on Feb. 20 at the Las Piñas Church SJA Auditorium, in collaboration with Colson and Leone, presenting music from the 16th to the 20th century. A special feature of the show will be Ponet’s “Souvenir from the Philippines” which he composed for the bamboo organ, piccolo and cornett.
The spotlight will be trained on SEMO’s new pipe organ at the closing concert entitled “The Splendor of Choral Music.” Salarza will accompany the Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club under Shangkuan-Chen in program featuring the choral music of Parry, Britten, Rutter, Stanford, Dubra and Mendelssohn.
Tickets for the Feb. 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22 concerts are priced at P200, P400, P600 and a special discounted ticket for P100 for students. They are available at TicketWorld, Ticketnet and SM Tickets outlets, as well as at Bamboo Organ Foundation (825-7190 or 820-0795).