THE UST Singers have certainly come a long way from the ignored first practice sessions in the Main Bldg. lobby 12 years ago. Today, invitations pour in from different parts of the globe for them to render their world-renowned performance.

In their recently ended eight-month world tour alone, they performed in more than 100 concerts and received major awards and recognitions in different countries, among which were the Excellence with Distinction prize, given to the best choir in a mixed choirs’ category, and the Ville de Vevey special prize for best interpretation and best programming at the Montreaux International Festival in Switzerland. Meanwhile, they were named Best Choir at the World Chorale Festival in Puebla, Mexico.

“We were able to show the uniqueness of the Filipino, which is something we are very, very proud of,” said UST Singers conductor Fidel Gener Calalang, Jr, a professor in the UST Conservatory of Music.

Indeed, so unique is the harmony of the UST Singers’ voices that Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris declared August 20 as “UST Singers Day” during their visit to the city for a concert.

The distinction also paved the way for the formation of the first-ever UST Alumni Association in Hawaii, led by doctors and professionals based on the island.

“This is another honor for the University, to start with, and for us, and of course for the Filipinos,” Calalang said. “We are witnesses on how the UST people are doing so well outside our country.”

These awards add to the many more they have received in the past. Since they started in 1992, they have reaped numerous prizes from different competitions in many countries. One recognition that arguably bestowed their world-class status was the Choir of the World Grand Prize in the 49th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, the oldest international choral competition in the whole world, in Wales, United Kingdom in 1995. It was the first and only time, to date, that an Asian choir received the title.

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Tedious training

It is hard to imagine the long hours of practice the UST Singers invest to create that perfect blend in their music. The UST Singers take singing as a very serious art. But while Calalang says the training is tedious, he beams at the result: a choir that has reaped international success.

“If you work hard, and you work for excellence, you see that the rewards are even more incredible,” Calalang said.

As an act of thanksgiving for their astounding record, the group will hold a homecoming concert, dubbed “Celebremos”, at the Philam Life Auditorium on Dec. 18. The event is produced by the Philippine History Foundation, in collaboration with the Philippine Historical Association and National Historical Institute. After spending much time abroad doing the University—and the country—proud, it is only fitting that they share their successes with the home crowd. To stretch their vocal chords, the group performed for a Thomasian crowd along with other artists last Dec. 10 at the Christmas Concert in the Santissimo Rosario Parish Church in UST. Other performers included the UST Symphony Orchestra, Chorale Tomasino, and soprano Rachelle Gerodias.

The homecoming concert should tell us that the UST Singers do not rest on their laurels even after a grueling world tour. They work on more concerts, new performances, and new pieces, because after all, it is through their music that they touch the hearts of people. Calalang, along with the rest of the group, believes in their influence on avid listeners.

“I feel the young people will be much blessed with a lot of experiences through the UST Singers,” Calalang said. A.N.C.. Alina

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For the Celebremos concert, tickets are sold at P200 (free seating) and P1,000 (reserved seating). For inquiries, contact Viola Villena, (0915) 581-2097 or at 536-6373.

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