RYAN CAYABYAB: More – and more – from the ‘maestro’

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Professor Ryan Cayabyab now sets his eyes on a cappella singers

He ain’t called the “Maestro” for nothing. True to being a man of music, the composer, conductor, arranger, pianist, singer and professor—who would just rather be called “Mr. C”—is relentless in promoting the art in every way possible.

Just weeks after mounting the successful grand finals night of the 2013 PhilPop songwriting competition, he has left the newly discovered Original Pilipino Music composers to revel in their victory, and has now turned his attention to the often overlooked talent of a cappella singers.

A longtime devotee of the genre (songs without instrumental accompaniment), he humbly pulled out a CD version of 31-year-old album he released under Vicor Music Corp. at a small press gathering on Friday. Titled Ryan Cayabyab One, it is a collection of classic and contemporary Filipino songs like “Bakya Mo Neneng,” “Saan Ka Man Naroroon,” and his very own compositions “Limang Dipang Tao” and “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika,” which he alone sings in three, six, nine or sometimes 16 voices.

“Matagal ko nang gusto ang a cappella at matagal ko na ding gustong i-build ang a cappella community dito sa atin,” said the maestro. “Usually, the common concept of a cappella music is from performances of church choirs who of course sing religious hymns and Christmas carols come the holidays.

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“But what many don’t know is that you can go a cappella with contemporary music—with pop, hip hop, jazz—and ang ganda talagang pakinggan.”

Finally, Mr. C has found a way to boost a cappella singing in the country through the first ever a cappella nationwide competition, which he has decided to Filipinize with the title, Akapela Open.

“Thanks to the hit American TV series Glee, and The Sing-Off [an a cappella competition on NBC hosted by 98 Degrees’ Nick Lachey], contemporary a cappella singing has experienced a resurgence. With Akapela Open, we’re hoping to affect the young people to embrace this great musical genre, and more importantly discover the a cappella community in the Philippines, and provide them a venue for their talent.”

The project is spearheaded by Mr. C’s very own The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, and he is grateful for the help of PLDT Smart Foundation and One Meralco Foundation.

Those who are qualified to join Akapela Open are singing groups with a minimum of three and a maximum of 12 members, aged 18 years old and above upon filing of application form. Groups may be all male, all female or mixed voices.

“Most probably, maraming choir members ang sasali dito, pero ang rules, only pop, R&B, modern jazz, hip hop, rap, rock, folk and other contemporary songs can be performed. And more importantly, within their 10-minute arrangement or medley, there has to be an Original Pilipino Music in the mix,” Mr. C rounded up.

Of course, stage movement and choreography is highly encouraged, which the maestro believes will entice younger participants to join the competition.

“Siyempre sa mga choirs sa simbahan, halos hindi gumagalaw yang mga yan, pero yung mga kumakanta ng a cappella na modern ang music, talagang may sayaw dahil nagiging mas catchy talaga ang areglo ng mga kanta. I’m sure that will be a plus for the young people,” he pointed out.

The auditions for Akapela Open is as follows: Interested participants should send video performance auditions through the akapelaopen.com website; and if they are short listed, they will be called to do live performance auditions.

“From the live auditions, we will whittle down the best of the best and round up 10 groups for the grand finals,” Mr. C surmised. “Filipinos from abroad can also join the competition since the first step of application is to send a video via email, but they will have to shoulder their travel expenses to the Philippines if they end up in the short list.”

Winners will receive cash prizes and trophies, with the grand prize at P250,000; 1st Runner Up, P150,000; and 2nd Runner Up, P100,000. There will also be a special award for best a cappella arrangement of a Filipino song, which will receive P50,000.

The music man is hopeful that this age-old genre, which is full of possibilities for talented singers, will catch on through the Akapela Open.

“I’m sure pag narinig na ng mga tao, say yung ‘Call Me Maybe’ o yung ‘Sirena’ na kinakanta na puro boses lang, sasabihin nila, ‘Uy, puwede pala yon’!” he enthused.

Deadline for application and uploading of entries is on September 7. Log on to www.akapelaopen.com for more information.

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