EVERYTHING happens for a reason, and for talented baritone Jesus Emmanuel “Nonon” Baang, entering in the Conservatory of Music after botching his enrollment at the College of Commerce was, in hindsight, a wonderful accident.

Having graduated from the Conservatory after 10 years as a student, Baang could not help but feel fortunate.

“When I entered the Conservatory of Music, I learned how to love music more and though it’s difficult, I found it more exciting and took it as a challenge,” Nonon said.

Baang started singing at the age of six when he formed the parish choir in Pagadian City, Zamboanga Del Sur, which should have paved the way for a career in music. But he had other things in mind.

“I wanted to follow the footsteps of my father who is a certified public accountant,” Baang told the Varsitarian. “I also wanted to take up law because we also have judges and lawyers in the family.”

But Baang’s destiny still went the musical way. Due to the late submission of his requirements, he ran out of slots in the College of Commerce. He ended up enrolling in Conservatory of Music in 1997 as a Voice major.

Baang got a scholarship when he joined the chorale group, Coro Tomasino. But he had to give it up when he left the chorus.

“Back then I wanted to be independent from the group to focus more on being a soloist,” Nonon said.
He then got an alumni scholarship but the scholarship soon run out when the alumnus stopped supporting him. Upon learning of his predicament, his voice mentor, Prof. Irma Potenciano, offered him a scholarship.

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“She taught me everything, lend me all her resources, and even gave me advice,” Baang said.

While still a student, Baang performed in concerts here and abroad. Most notable of his performances were in the operettas “Student Prince” and “Die Fledermaus,” with the Singapore Lyric Orchestra in 1999 and 2000.

In 2000, Baang also became part of the Asian Youth Choir in Japan.

Baang was also a student leader, becoming the Music student council president in 2002 and the university-wide president of Pax Romana in 2005. Baang in fact will represent the latter in an international assembly in Kuala Lumpur in June 24.

Baang is currently a board member of the Samahan ng mga Guro sa Pag-awit, a group of music instructors similar to the National Association of Teachers in United States and Europe. He has also just joined the faculty of the Conservatory of Music, handling extension classes.

Chock full on first concert

Last June 1, Baang held his first major solo concert, Nonon…Ancora, at the Anonimo Veneziano Italian Restaurant and Art Gallery in Makati City.

Included in the repertoire were classic songs “Die Viene Alla Finestra” from the opera Don Giovanni, “O Sole Mio,” “Se” from Cinema Paradiso, “Due De Gatto,” “Sun and Moon” from Miss Saigon, “All I Asked of You” from the Phantom of the Opera, “A Time For Us,” “Broken Vow” and “Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

Baang also performed “Dahil Sa’yo,” “Ang Pag-ibig Mo” and “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” The songs sung by Nonon matched the elegant mood of the restaurant, with its young and high-end patrons. Also performing that night were other Thomasian artists, such as Stephen Chua Roxas, who hosted the show, soprano Ma. Florence Aguilar, pianist Portia Catinding, and violinist JC Joya.

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Devout soloist

While a child in Pagadian City, Baang sang psalms during Sunday Masses in the parish choir. It was as a member of the Pagadian City Children’s Choir that he was chosen as representative of Region 9 in the International Music Competition for Young Artists festival. Baang said parish choir singing gave him the opportunity to serve God.

Baang still continues to do so as a member and soloist of the Our Lady of Lourdes Choir in Retiro, Quezon City, under Menchu Padilla, former executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and of the Coro Santuario de San Antonio in McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati City, under Amelita Guevarra.

During Sundays, Baang performs with the Coro Santuario de San Antonio for the Mass at 6 p.m.

Last June 13, Baang sang the solo parts during the feast day of San Antonio. He belted a baritone solo of Schubert’s “Mass in G” with the chamber orchestra under the conduction of Guevarra. Officiating the High Mass was Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

At this point, Baang could not ask for more.

“I believe that God has always been with me because my little prayers have always answered and I am very thankful for that,” Nonon Baang said. Maria Aurora F. Mon

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