FOR THE second year, the traditional UST Christmas Concert cast the spotlight on UST as a heritage showcase and sought to raise funds for the restoration of the visual arts collection of the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences.

The gala night on December 3 was graced by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Joseph Adams and Italian Ambassador Rubens Anna Fedele. Leading the Thomasian performers was tenor Abdul Candao, a faculty member of the Vienna Conservatory of Music.

Other performers were sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Thea Perez, tenor Lemuel de la Cruz, and baritone Andrew Fernando.

“The concert’s role is to gather funds for the restoration of the UST visual arts collection because I believe the University of Santo Tomas is our heritage, a treasure that we need to preserve,” said Maricris Zobel, who co-chaired the organizing committee with UST Museum Director Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P.

Sounds of a crowing rooster and ringing church bells help set the mood for the event, reminiscent of simbang gabi (midnight Mass). Four choirs collaborated for the opening act—Coro Tomasino, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, UST Singers, and Tiples de Santo Domingo—who sang “Pasko Na Naman,” “Simbang Gabi,” “Noche Buena,” and “Sa Paskong Darating.” The USTeMundo ethnic ensemble accompanied them.

Tenor De la Cruz performed alongside the Tiples, the boys’ choir of Santo Domingo Church, singing Franz Schubert’s “Mile Cherubini in Coro” (A Thousand Cherubs in a Choir). He then teamed up with a member of the choir to sing “Good King Wenceslas,” a traditional song.

The third act showcased Voice majors from the Conservatory of Music with two sets of soprano-tenor duets. Music senior Ferleoni Medina and tenor Vincent Evangelista performed “Ave Maria” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and Charles Gounod. It was followed by Marie Ann Dominese and Christian Paul Anthony Nagaño’s rendition of Don Black’s “As Long As There’s Christmas”.

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Jazz artist Mario Martin Tolentino conducted an all-instrumental fourth act with the UST Jazz Ensemble, performing a jazz medley of popular Christmas songs.

Candao made a chilling rendition of George Bizet’s “Agnus Dei.”

The UST Singers, under Fidel Calalang, took the spotlight as they performed Bach’s “Alles was Odem Nat Lobet dem Hern,” Morten Lauridsen’s “Ave Maria,” George Wyle’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and Ryan Cayabyab’s “Munting Sanggol,” all well-received by the audience.

Baritone Fernando gripped the audience next with his mighty rendition of “What Child is This?.” De la Cruz and Gerodias later joined him for the number, “Tecum Principum” of Camille Saint-Saens.

Georidas then led the Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble and the Coro Tomasino performing Mozart’s “Alleluia” and the traditional carol, “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy.”
For the finale, all the performers and choirs sang “Christmas Cherry Tree,” “Carol of the Animals,” and “Christmas Medley.” They then sang lively renditions of the last batch of Christmas classics—“Joy to the World,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Angels We Have Heard On High,” and Handel’s “Hallelujah.”

Surprisingly, another finale came after, but this time it required the audience’s participation. The UST performers urged the audience to join them in the singing of “Silent Night” and “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit.” The audience gamely obliged.

Cocktails were later served at the UST Museum. Among the guests were Jaime Zobel de Ayala, cosmetic surgeon Vicky Belo, Mikee Cojuangco, Mar Roxas, Dick Gordon, Imelda Marcos and Irene Marcos.

The Museum showcased newly restored paintings such as the Portrait of Jose Rizal, painted by Severino Fabie in 1940. Restoration efforts included the cleaning of the murals fronting the museum, depicting Our Lady of the Rosary and the Crucifixion of Christ.

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In his opening remarks, Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. said the concert “was a celebration of the conservation of the University.” He explained donations would go to scholarships for Music students.

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