Early Christmas at The Pen

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BECKY GARCIA

Christmas came early this year at The Peninsula Manila as the hotel’s General Manager Mark Choon assembled a stellar cast of the best of the best in Philippine popular and classical music with 34th Season of Christmas Concert at The Pen. For two magical hours, the elegant lobby of the hotel transformed into a grand concert hall, revving the assembled guests’ festive spirits for the days of celebration ahead.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) under guest conductor Maestro Ruggero Barbieri (who flew in from Italy especially for this concert) led the way with special guest soloist Original Pilipino Music (OPM) legend Celeste Legaspi, tenor Lemuel de la Cruz, soprano Jade Riccio and the University of Santo Tomas Singers in serenading guests with classical and holiday-themed music.

The 2017 holiday musical program featured music by some of the best musical talent from the Philippines such as Ryan Ca­yabyab, and the world’s greatest composers like Bernstein, Verdi, Rossini, and Tchaikovsky.

Rossini’s “Tarantella Napolitana,” Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien,” and Bernstein’s “Mambo” from “West Side Story” were on the program. Moreover, the PPO and the 50-voice University of Santo Tomas Singers performed the ever-popular Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s classic oratorio “Messiah”. They also rendered Handel’s “Zadok The Priest Coronation Anthem,” which Handel composed for the coronation of King George 2nd in 1727. One of Handel’s best-known works, Zadok the Priest is sung prior to the anointing of the sovereign at the coronation of every British monarch.


A special guest at this year’s Christmas Concert at The Pen was OPM legend Celeste Legaspi who performed for the very first time at The Peninsula’s festive musical extravaganza.

OPM fans who had missed hearing Legaspi sing live for more than 30 years were rewarded with the award-winning singer, actress, and music icon’s timeless renditions of her greatest hits:“Tuliro” (composed for her by her husband Nonoy Gallardo), “Saranggola Ni Pepe,” “Minsan ang Minahal ay Ako,” “La Vie en Rose” which she sang in Filipino, English and in the original French and a Ryan Cayabyab Christmas medley.

Part of the proceeds raised during the concert were donated to the ‘Hope for the Philippines’ fund that continues to benefit the families affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan and now living in The Peninsula – Gawad Kalinga (GK) Village in Tanauan, Leyte.

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