The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO) under the stewardship and tutelage of the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) made its auspicious Vienna debut on July 6 in the hometown of Mozart in Salzburg.
One of the competing participants in the 11th Summa Cum Laude Music Festival in Vienna, the MSJO under the baton of Jeffrey Solares performed Mozart’s Divertimento in D, K. 136 from his set of “Salzburg” Symphonies written in Mozart’s hometown.
The MSJO — composed of 36 musicians between the ages nine and 21—was also invited to perform in Munich and Prague.
Meanwhile, the MSO is all set for another season concert on Aug. 5 and 6 with guest conductor Darrell Ang and guest soloist Iskandar Widjaja (IDN/GER) on violin Aug. 5 at Irwin Theater in Ateneo and Aug. 6 at the Circuit in Makati.
Program includes Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 and a new composition by a Filipino composer.
Meanwhile, the main highlight of the opening season concert of the MSO under Arturo Molina last month was the monumental Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27 mounted at The Circuit in Makati.
The work is rarely performed in Manila and it is understandable. The orchestration requires hard work and the structure demands a lot of focus from the musicians.
Happening as it did when the country was reeling from the ongoing war in Marawi, the Rachmaninoff symphony was at once timely as it conjured images of gloom and hope, of the world’s uncertain conditions and reflects the weary, almost hopeless outpouring of humanity in the third movement. The electrifying finale at once conveyed new hope for humanity.
Like it or not, the MSO was in good shape in this piece de resistance and what an incredible show of energy and stamina!
Under Molina’s baton, the sound was rich and intoxicating and it smoldered from one musical phrase to another.
As it was, the music settled in one’s psyche like a bolt of lightning and it entered one’s pores and remained there to one’s complete delight.
But the adagio of the third movement brought out a familiar sound (it inspired many pop compositions including Eric Carmen’s “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”) and here you see Rachmaninoff as the Master of Melodic Contours.
Its opening was breathtaking and in a few moments came the sea of lyrical outpouring that could melt the heart.
Brilliant was the only world that came to mind as one heard the last movement with the familiar theme from the first movement.
The first theme assaulted the senses as it sizzled although controlled by a march with woodwind getting reactions from bass strings.
Like it or not, you could not help but recall the sea of sound associated with Tchaikovsky with such lush and rich orchestration.
The last notes of the symphony resulted in an audience too stunned to react and no doubt mesmerized as one by one, they stood to give the orchestra a rousing standing ovation.
It has been a long time since one saw a symphony being cheered as ecstatically as this one.
Moreover, the first part of the concert is abnormally short (less than 30 minutes) but they were enough to showcase Nonong Buencamino’s Tiamis, which is about the unrequited love between Leonor Rivera and Jose Rizal.
Originally scored for cello and piano, the piece became an orchestral piece with cellist Arnold Josue as soloist.
As it were, the piece brought us to another time and another place with its poignant and lyrical outpouring. It ended with the last lonesome notes of the cello and instantly, it captured the nobility and depth of the once and future love of the Filipino hero and his Leonor Rivera.
Probably built with the same emotional coloring was the rendition of the seldom heard Sibelius’ “Swan of Tuonella.” It was short but the audience enjoyed its lush and dreamy orchestration.
The latest MSO concert is but one of the many facets of the Filipino musicians who remain the enduring symbols of what is amazing about the Filipino artists.
With no visible government support, the MSO has managed to sustain its season offerings and the people behind it and yet still find time to teach young musicians in its MSO music academy and to hone a new generation of musicians in its MSO Junior Orchestra.
The musicians of the MSO carry many of the redeeming qualities of the Filipino performing artist. Without a home of its own and with no rehearsal hall of its own, these musicians survive by the skin of their teeth, so to speak.
One hopes the new administration will find time to listen to Filipino musicians who symbolize what is good and enduring about the Filipino as music interpreter.