The multi-awarded Coro Tomasino of the UST Conservatory gave a requiem concert under its new conductor, tenor Ronan Ferrer, in honor of Coro’s late founder-conductor Ricardo Mazo, Jr. and its stalwart bass-baritone Jun Francis Jaranilla.
The concert’s first half consisted of songs by foreign composers, except two numbers by John Pamintuan.
In “Libiamo” (Drinking Song) and “Noi Siamo Zingarelli,” both from Verdi’s Traviata, ballroom scenes were spiritedly reenacted, with the women in colorful, elegant Victorian gowns, men in tuxedos. A soprano and a bass-baritone were soloists in the selection from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino.
The “Humming Song” from Puccini’s Madamme Butterfly was exquisitely rendered by the women members; the first section ended with “Il Signor non e morto” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, with a soprano soloist.
Singing massively, robustly, Coro Tomasino produced tremendous volume. However, it sounded more mellifluous, more pleasantly sonorous and cohesive in the pianissimos than in the precise, fortissimos. Highly enhancing the performance was the precise, cohesive, disciplined movement: the singers hand-clapping, foot-stamping, walking, kneeling and gyrating.
This physical aspect was even more pronounced, more remarkable in the latter part, which featured songs in Filipino written or arranged by their own Tomasino writers. The opening number by Fidel Calalang Jr. had bird-like sounds; the rest of the numbers were declaimed rather than sung in atonal and aleatory manner, the words delivered in incredibly rapid pace were accompanied by unified, vigorous, electrifying movement in consistent togetherness. Numbers interpreted by an all-female or all-male choir were lustily applauded, enlivened as usual with frisky, abrupt, vigorous steps and gyrations.
Coro Tomasino achieved a feat by rendering the entire concert from memory, including contemporary, non-lyrical songs. The only time scores were in view was when Coro alumni joined the Coro proper for the finale during which some composers conducted upon Ferrer’s request, in which case, he joined the choir.
The soloists—sopranos, tenors, basses and baritones—manifested varying degrees of competence, vocal skill and expressivity. Ferrer was always in masterful command.
A bouquet was handed the excellent assisting artist, pianist Mary Anne Espina and the widow and young sons of Jun Jaranilla. Ferrer graciously passed on his lei to CCP President Raul Sunico, dean of the UST Conservatory of Music.