A MUSICAL variety of culture of West and East accentuated the visit of the Akedemski Pevski Zabor (APZ Tone Tomši?) choir, the “world’s most awarded choir” to the University of Santo Tomas home of the “choir of the world”, especially with the grand concert of the two leading choirs entitled “Dos Bravissimos” last July 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The APZ choir, which is composed of students from the University of Ljubljana, arrived last July 18, and spent a nine-day sojourn in the Philippines as a part of their 2011 Asian tour.

The Dos Bravissimos concert is the highlight of the Ljubljana-based choir visit to the Philippines, collaborating with the two-time Choir of the World University of Santo Tomas Singers.

Opened by Conservatory of Music Dean and President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dr. Raul Sunico and Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of UST, the “Dos Bravissimos” showcase filled the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo with spectators, mostly music fanatics.

The concert was opened by five superb pieces sung by the Filipino choir. Clad in their black and yellow flowing gowns and modernized Barong Tagalog, the Singers wowed the audience with their opening sonata “Zefiro E’l Bel Tempo Rimena,” a virtuoso written by Claudio Monteverdi.

Showing off their Catholic faith, the Singers gave a splendid rendition of the religious song “Alleluia,” a piece by Ralph Manuel on 1951.

The claps of the audience have grown wild with the Singers’ outstanding performance of Jubilate Deo, with sopranos filling the air. The piece is an original composition by UST Singers conductor Fidel Calalang, and one of the winning pieces during the Eisteddfodd Choir of the World Competition in Wales.

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Calalang, who also heads the Conducting department of the Conservatory of Music, dazzled the audience with his unprecedented craft in conducting, as a complement of basses and sopranos revived Federizon’s “Gabaq-an.”

APZ’s turn

The Slovenians, complete with their conductor Sebastjan Vrhovnik, gave an all-out performance with the highs and lows of altos and tenors, with their song entitled “Die mit trañen saen,” a religious text lifted from the book of Psalms.

A polystylistic rendition of Russian composer Schnittnike’s “Bogordice Devo Gospondi Isuse Otce nas” paved the way for the Norwegian song “Ave Maria Stella” composed by Grieg.

Another exchange of tenors, altos, basses, and sopranos filled the hall with another religious moldy called “Ave Maria,” now on the Slovenian tongue.

With the playing of the grand piano, the English-translated Swedish song “To See a World”, spirited chorale voices dazzled the audience.

APZ’s conductor Sebastjan Vrohvnik showed his unique and stunning hands with the beat of his conducting in the piece “The Earth is Tired” and Danish song “Mate saule.”

The second part was a showcase of the UST Singers and the APZ Choir’s friendship.

After performing folk music which showcases their Filipino voice, the UST Singers provided the spotlight to the country’s premier soprano, Rachelle Gerodias.

Gerodias, with her unbeatable melodic vocal tinges, performed the Filipino folk song, “Ang Maya,” which reveals her Filipino identity.

For the Slovenians, a trio of a Soprano (Ursa Setina) and a mezzosoprano (Petra Frece) and an alto (Alma Kajdiz), answered the Filipino folksong with their own folksong entitled “Ne ouri, ne sejaj” (Do Not Plough, Do Not Sow), which surfaced their jubilation.

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A special number concluded the night, with the duet of the heavyweight choirs, with Sebastjan Vrhovnik conducting and Fidel Calalang on the piano.

The mixture of the varying voices was concluded with the light and fast-melody songs “Ragtime” and “Vamos ala Playa”.

‘Barrio Fiesta’

Meanwhile, the Slovenian choir was welcomed by the UST Singers last July 20 with the welcome party called “Barrio Fiesta.”

The party, held at the UST Central Seminary Gymnasium, had let the Slovenians feel the world-renowned Filipino hospitality.

With folk dance performances from the Salinggawi Dance Troupe, the APZ choir had tried to dance the famous “tinikling”.

They had also been serenaded by unique Filipino music through Uste Mundo, the only ethnic ensemble in UST.

Gerodias also performed and received encores.

Calalang said they invited the Slovenian choir to showcase a “perfect blend of culture.”

“This would make us appreciate their music, and they would appreciate our music and culture too,” Calalang said.

Vrohvnik said to the Varsitarian that the whole choir is flattered to work with the UST Singers.

“I am very thankful to work with them, knowing that UST Singers is a very good choir,” he said.

Vrohvnik said that he did not expect anything in the Philippines, but was very much amazed with how the Slovenian singers are welcomed.

“The hospitality shown is very warming. We are having so much fun here in UST,” he said.

De La Rosa said in an interview that the collaboration of the two choirs will make UST more famous in other European countries.

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“The event is a very good cultural showcase, the east and west enjoys the culture of each other,” he said. REDEN D. MADRID and MARIANNE S. LASTRA

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