CONSERVATORY of Music Dean Raul Sunico was the main feature in “Melodies and Memories,” a concert last April 17 at the Paraclete Auditorium, College of the Holy Spirit (CHS), Mendiola, Manila. The event aimed to raise money for the CHS scholarship program and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Ministry which promotes devotion to the first Filipino saint among overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“This is also in memory of [Philippine Daily] Inquirer columnist Josephine Darang who promoted devotion to San Lorenzo Ruiz in her column, ‘Purely Personal’,” Fr. Erno Diaz, a Filipino priest in the Archdiocese of New York and founder of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Ministry, said in his opening remarks.

The concert opened with the Ambassadors of Light, a chorale consisting of musically-talented, blind children and young adults, performing the songs, “San Lorenzo Hymn” by Dom Benildus Maramba and “Karamay ni Hesus” by Anderson Go.

Sunico performed three preludes by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as well as “Aragon” by Federico Longas, and“Etude in E, op. 10 no. 3,” “Etude in A-flat, op. 25 no. 1” and “Polonaise in A-flat, op. 53” by Polish great Frederic Francois Chopin.

Conservatory alumnus Rogelio Peñaverde, Jr. serenaded the audience with “Granada” by Agustin Lara, “Some Enchanted Evening” by Richard Rodgers, and “Madaling Araw” by Francisco Santiago.

For the second part, Sunico played “Sonatine; Modere; Mouvement de minuet; Anime” by French composer Maurice Ravel, and “Nocturn in C-sharp minor” by Nicanor Abelardo.

He performed more familiar fare (at least to the Filipino audience) with “Bato sa Buhangin” by Ernani Cuenco and “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan” by George Canseco.

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He then went on to perform “Liebestraum” and “Vallee d’Obermann” by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.

For the finale, Sunico, Penaverde and the Ambassadors of Light earned a thunderous standing ovation after performing “This is the Moment” from the Broadway musical, “Jekyll and Hyde.”

Sunico explained his repertoire to the Varsitarian.

“Well I played some Rachmaninoff, Longas which is Spanish, and also Chopin, then the second half was an impressionistic French composer Ravel. I also played three Filipino compositions. Usually I ask the organizers what kind of audience will be coming. If it’s a classical audience, then it’s something more substantial. If it’s a mixed audience, like tonight’s audience consisting of alumni of the College of the Holy Spirit, I play something heavy, I play something light, and I play something Filipino, which I did tonight.”

For the New York-based Penaverde, the concert revived memories of his postgraduate studies in the Big Apple when he handled the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir at the church dedicated to the Filipino saint where Father Diaz was parish priest.

A leaf-collage portrait of the saint by artist Fernando Manipon was exhibited during the concert.

The concert marked the ninth anniversary of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Ministry. Named after first Filipino canonized saint who was martyred in Japan in the 17th century, the foundation is dedicated to addressing the spiritual needs of OFW’s.

Ruiz is patron saint of OFW’s.

Proceeds of the concert would go to funding the erection of statues of San Lorenzo Ruiz in domestic airports so that OFWs leaving the country could pray and ask for the saint’s intercession in their life and work abroad. They would also fund the production of a TV Mass DVD that would be given to Filipinos abroad, specifically in the Middle East, where they have no access to Catholic Mass.

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