YOU MAY think that marching bands are merely for town fiestas, but Serenata: the UST Band Festival at the Philamlife Auditorium and Plaza Rajah Sulayman last Sept. 5-10 showed that symphonic bands could be a strong stage presence.

Fifteen local symphonic bands from different schools, municipalities, and even the army, as well as an international band from Taiwan showed off their musical prowess in the six-day festival which brought unity to a diverse, multi-faceted world of tubas and flutes.

The UST Wind Orchestra delivered classical and modern ensembles much to the delight of the cheering crowd. It started with a grand rendition of “Fanfare for a New Era” composed by James Curnow, followed by the romantic “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” and the mystical “Symphonic Movements” by Vaclav Nelhybel. The wind orchestra grandly closed with Alfred Reed’s adaptation of “Macarena,” a fast, Mexican-inspired musical arrangement that left the audience asking for more.

Meanwhile, the Chia-Yi Wind Orchestra from Taiwan entertained the audience with Chinese traditional pieces. The “Herdsman Song,” accompanied by a Chinese flute solo, reflected the nomadic life of the early Chinese, with its smooth melody, much like a flowing river hidden deep within a forest. The group also performed the music from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the biggest Chinese picture of all time.

Other bands that performed in the festival included the Adamson University Band, University of the Philippines Symphonic Band, Feati University Brass Band, International School Manila Symphonic Band, Philippine Youth Symphonic Band, Philippine Army Band, Philippine Navy Band, Philippine Air Force Band, Majestic Band from Muntinlupa City, San Juan Nepomuceno Band from Pasay City, Banda 31 from Sta. Maria, Bulacan, Sta. Cecilia Band 89, Manila City Band, and Banda 8 from Cardona, Rizal.

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As the organizer of the festival, along with students of the conservatory, Music Dean Raul Sunico is satisfied with the turnout of events.

“We are happy to have organized an event like this, an event with such magnitude,” Sunico said. “It was an opportunity for marching bands to perform in a formal setting.”

With the success of the festival, as can be proved by the numerous enthusiasts who watched the performances, the recognition of bands as true musical artists was once more renewed. One can only hope for more festival events such as the Serenata to continue enriching our band tradition. A.N.C.Alina

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