Our heartfelt congratulations go to the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra for winning first place with outstanding success in the string orchestra category of the 12th Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival held at the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria.
The 47 young men and women between the ages of 10 and 23 have brought honor and recognition to the Philippines. The international competition saw the best choirs, orchestras and bands in the world vie for the top prizes in their respective categories.
Last year, as the first Filipino orchestral ensemble to set foot in the famous Golden Hall of the Musikverein, the MSJO delighted the Austrian jury and audiences with their musicianship and won the second prize at the same festival, and went on to perform in famous concert venues in Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and Munich.
More than 30 ensembles from 14 countries participated in the festival. The MSJO shared top honors with Israel’s Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna String Orchestra and bested the Montreal Suzuki String Orchestra from Canada, the Nanyang Girls’ High School String Orchestra and the UWCSEA String Orchestra, both from Singapore.
This is no mean feat for a group that was formed only in 2014 as the youth orchestra project of the Manila Symphony Orchestra Foundation, Inc.
With no official government support or subsidy, the MSJO is under the principal patronage of Standard Insurance Inc. as part of its corporate campaign “in pursuit of excellence.” The orchestra is also sustained by contributions from the families, friends and supporters of its members, who come from lower-income or middle-income families with limited financial resources to pay for a European trip.
The group’s success is a direct result of the guidance and tutelage of their founder and conductor, Jeffrey Solares, and the dedication of its individual members. These young people spend hours in painstaking rehearsals, months ahead of the competition, sacrificing play time, social lives and other aspects of being a teenager.
At a time when the country’s reputation has been buffeted by controversy, the MSJO’s accomplishments are an uplifting reminder that there is honor to be had when Filipinos can work diligently together in harmony toward a shared goal.