MUSIC News Intimate Concert Series returned after a one-year hiatus at the Abelardo Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman last April 20, featuring UST Conservatory of Music alumni Noel Azcona and Najib Ismail.

Baritone Azcona, assistant music director of the UST Singers, opened the concert with Johann Bach’s “Bist du belmir.” He proceeded with a vigorous four-piece set, Carissimi Ibert’s “Vitoria mio core.” Ismail accompanied him on the piano. At some points, flutist John Raymond Sarreal accompanied Azcona.

Azcona emanated power with Franz Liszt’s “Benedetto sia ‘Igiorno” and gained much applause with his rendition of “Stars” from the Broadway musical, Les Misérables. He also went back to his roots with the kundiman, “Magbalik ka Hirang” by Nicanor Abelardo.

Azcona also sang Mozart’s “Hai gia vinta la causa” and Tchaikovsky’s “Ja Vas lyub lyu,” pieces which exhibited the control and range of his voice. An animated performance of “Toreador Song” from the opera Carmen ended the concert. Azcona played the role of Escamilio in the Laurice Guillen-directed production of the opera at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila last October.

Meanwhile, Ismail and Sarreal blended melodies with their performance of Cecile Chaminade’s “Concertino Op. 107” and Giussepe Verdi and Wilhelm Popp’s “Fantasy on ‘La Traviata.’”

Azcona and Ismail concluded the show with an encore performance of “All I Ask of You” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Pablo Tariman, the organizer of the concert, praised Ismail and Azcona’s musical prowess and lauded the University for producing great musicians.

“Ismail and Azcona are two very talented musicians. They are real artists in every sense of the word,” Tariman said.

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With its name inspired by small venues and intimate ambiance, the Music News Intimate Series was started in 2002 by Ismail and Azcona along with two other renowned Thomasian singers, tenor Lemuel dela Cruz and soprano Rachelle Gerodias. Joining them was celebrated pianist Cecil Licad. ELYSSA CHRISTINE A. LOPEZ

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