Four up and coming UST-bred conductors, together with their chorale groups, performed classical pieces, as well as contemporary adaptations in Conductors on the Rise last March 10 at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Conductors Paolo Roel Rodriguez, Emerson Hernandez, Lester Delgado, and Ronaldo Raz took center stage in the event organized by the UST Conservatory of Music and the USTCM Conducting Department, in cooperation with the UST Singers.

Rodriguez led the Chorus of Arts and Letters with classical pieces such as “Great Day” and “Veni Creator Spiritus.” They also conducted an unusual performance of an adaptation of the contemporary OPM piece, “Overdrive,” by the Eraserheads for the second part of the event.

Rodriguez has been part of choral groups since he was three years old, later on joining other musicians from different local churches. He has been with the Conservatory since 2001, and is currently pursuing further musical studies in the Conducting Department under Prof. Ricardo Mazo Jr.

Hernandez, on the other hand, conducted the Far Eastern University Chorale in Orlando di Lasso’s a cappella motet, “Jubilate Deo” and Carl Orff’s “Odi et Amo,” part of the stage cantata, Cantulli Carmina. Their rendition of the song “When You Believe” from the animated film Prince of Egypt garnered a loud applause from the audience, as the high-pitched tones near the end made a powerful closing for their second routine.

Hernandez started his musical career with the Sta. Teresita Himig Choir at the Sta. Teresita Parish Quezon City in 1994. He has been with various choral groups since then, including the Magnum Opus of the Artlets and the Junior Chamber of Business Administration Chorale of the College of Commerce. After deciding to follow his passion for music, he entered the Conservatory in 1999 for formal music training, majoring in Voice. He shifted to Choral Conducting a few years later under Mazo, and is now a graduating student with a Piano minor under Prof. Najib Ismail and Voice under Prof. Jun Francis Jaranilla.

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Meanwhile, Delgado directed the St. John Bosco Chorale with classical pieces “Quem Viditis Pastores Dicite” by Francis Poulenc and “O Fortuna,” a difficult piece by Orff that they were able to execute with much precision, astounding the audience. The group later on performed songs such as Nicanor Abelardo’s “Magbalik ka hirang,” which Delgado himself arranged, and “Anak,” an OPM classic by Freddie Aguilar.

Still under the Conservatory of Music Conducting Department, Delgado has already received numerous distinctions for his compositions and arrangements of choral music, even at the young age of 25. In November, 2004, his composition, “Sa Bagong Umaga” won first prize in the Conservatory’s songwriting competition, and was used in the 2004 Harmonies Choral Festival.

Raz, on the other hand, began his musical career in high school when he first became the organist of their local parish. He followed his passion for music when he entered the Conservatory in 1997, majoring in Voice, under the tutelage of Prof. Irma Potenciano. But again, the power of choral music was “hard to resist,” so he shifted to Choral Conducting under Mazo a few years later.

Raz, as musical director and conductor of the Sta. Teresita Parish Chorale, led the group to various competitions, including the First Pasig River Heritage Choral Competition in 2004, and the First METRO Chorale Competition last January, 2006. In the event, Raz, together with the group, performed the secular pieces, “Hark all ye lovely saints above” by Thomas Weelkes and “Psalm 149” by Lucio San Pedro for the first act. They later on presented the pieces “Mamayog Akun,” which is in the Visayan language, and “Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin,” an original song by Martin Nievera, arranged by Raz, that appealed greatly to the audience, particularly to OPM enthusiasts.

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Although still young and learning, these conductors are believed to have a lot of potential in the world of choral conducting. Indeed, they reaffirm the Conservatory’s persistent excellence in the art of music, which they will eventually continue in the years to come. Anne Nerissa C. Alina

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