Saraza awes listeners; FilFest presents Ateneo choir

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Rosalinda L. Orosa

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Music patron Marybeth Lopez de Leon presented virtuoso violinist Diomedes Saraza Jr. in a recital at her elegant residence. The opening “Salud de Amor” and “Tango” were brisk interpretations that instantly manifested Saraza’s assurance, confidence, authority and superb fluency. With his distinct grasp of form and content, he infused all the pieces, among them “Salud de Amor,” “Tango” and “Hear Me Lord,” with dramatic expressiveness. Further, his tones—luminous, rich in color, sonorous, shimmering—fascinated throughout.

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“Meditation” from Massenet’s opera “Thai”, slow and languid, had its exquisitely flowing lyricism exuding a somber, melancholy air.

Virtuosity was demonstrated in R. Strauss’ “Sonata,” its far from lyrical first movement, its daunting discords and dissonances brilliantly rendered, and in Bizet’s “Carmen Fantasy.” Here, Saraza stressed fiery, sparkling Gypsy spirit in the Habanera aria and choral numbers with such intensity, brio and aplomb, he sent listeners lustily applauding, their pulses throbbing.

The recital was an awesome display of technical skill and emotional depth. Pianist Greg Zuniega, himself a luminous star in our firmament, gave impeccable, seamless assistance.

Meanwhile, FilFest, headed by Vicky Zubiri, presented the Ateneo Chamber Singers (ACS), a mixed choir of about 30 alumni members, at Insular Life Auditorium in Alabang.

Under Assistant Conductor Mary Katherine Trangco, the choir sang popular, easy-to-appreciate selections for the first part of the program, opening with the popular Spanish Habanera Rosta de un Verde Palma and Amor Esto es Amor by F. V. Albentosa.

This was followed by two numbers, both by Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and the hearty applause, which had been garnered by the Spanish numbers, grew even louder for the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” and “All You Need is Love.”

The renditions manifested the singers’ remarkable precision and discipline, and their cohesion as well, under the meticulously attentive direction of Trangco.

The number “Shine” by Trina Belamide made a tremendous impact for the choir’s clear, eloquent, riveting articulation of the words and dramatic pauses. All the songs were interpreted a cappella except those by the Beatles which had piano accompaniment.

After intermission, the ACS interpreted Filipino songs, most of them well-known and deeply loved. Some arrangements made the songs sound new, fresh and almost unrecognizable. Performing without scores, except oddly enough, in F. Santiago’s “Pakiusap,” the choir performed other favorites like “Paruparong Bukid” arranged by Ruben Estrada, and “Dahil Sa’yo” by Mike Velarde, Jr. Relatively more recent songs were Bob Monserrat’s “Umagang Kay Ganda,” Ryan Cayabyab’s “Hibang sa Awit” and the vastly amusing “Da Coconut” whose soloist caused the audience to laugh uncontrollably.

In the renditions, the fortissimos thundered overwhelmingly. However, the blending of voices was more cohesive, more mellifluous in the pianissimo passages.

Applause, which grew louder after each number, must have shaken the rafters in the finale.

Warmest congratulations to the Ateneo Chamber Singers and conductor Trangco for reviving the traditional folksongs “Cebuano Medley” and “Koyu No Tebulul,” both arranged by E. Palaruan, and kundimans—all these being obliterated by Broadway and foreign pop tunes.

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