PROCLAIMED National Artist for Music by President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd in 2014, Francisco Feliciano was credited for propagating “Asianness” in his works. He was known for his musical combination of Filipino culture, as well as his Western and Asian musical idiom in operas, ballets, orchestral works and hymns he has composed.
Family, friends and colleagues paid tribute to the late National Artist in a necrological ceremony held on September 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater), followed by an interment held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Feliciano died on September 19 at the age of 73 after his long battle with cancer.
Among those who attended the ceremony were National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera, Abdulmari Asia Imao. Benedicto Cabrera, National Commission for Culture and the Arts officer in charge-executive director Adelina Suemith, as well as CCP president Raul Sunico.
Feliciano’s daughter Dr. Julette-Marie Feliciano-Batara gave a heart-warming message, speaking in behalf of the Feliciano family. Featured in The Sunday Times Magazine on July 27, Feliciano’s daughter shared fond moments with her father.
“You would see him composing even in his bed. He would close his eyes and his hands would move as if he were conducting an orchestra,” she said.
The venerated musician had many of his choral compositions performed by the best choirs in the country, such as the world renowned Philippines Madrigal Singers, University of Sto. Tomas Singers and the Novo Concertante Manila, which had won numerous awards in international choral competitions.
As a performer, Feliciano brought the Philippines at par with the rest of the European and American worlds. He was invited to conduct the major orchestras of Europe and America, most especially in Asia. This was a strong indication of his conducting abilities that were highly respected by his western counterparts.
Feliciano’s philosophy in music was multiplied through his lifelong mission of propagating a new language for religious music, more realistically fulfilled by his numerous students at the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, which he founded in 1981.