ORIGINAL Pilipino Music (OPM) composer Ryan Cayabyab performed his original Christmas tunes with Thomasian talents in the annual UST Christmas Concert last Dec. 1, marking the beginning of the University’s Christmas traditions.

Accompanied by the UST Symphony Orchestra, Cayabyab on piano led the acclaimed UST Singers, Coro Tomasino and Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble into soulful renditions of his Filipino Christmas compositions such as “Munting Sanggol” and “Isang Taong Lumipas.”

His first time to participate in the much-awaited annual concert, Cayabyab praised UST for distinguishing itself from other universities through the way it gives importance to the celebration of the Christmas season, citing the Christmas concert and Christmas tree lighting as examples.

“This has been institutionalized everywhere: celebrating the Christmas season is more apparent in this school,” Cayabyab told the Varsitarian.

The concert began with Herminigildo Ranera’s arrangement of Flemish composer August de Boeck’s “O Beata Mater.

Ranera, conductor of the UST Symphony Orchestra, said he was impressed by the participating University choirs who only had four days to master all the songs for the concert.

Like Cayabyab, the UST High School Glee Club under the tutelage of choral conducting graduate Emerson Hernandez was also performing for the first time in the concert. It performed the “Paskong ang Saya.”

Sopranos Ruth Brillo, Rosette Valencia and Demie Fresco belted a flawless rendition of orchestral conducting student Jedrick Itugot’s arrangement of “My Grownup Christmas List” and “Sa Araw ng Pasko,” a classic OPM Christmas hit.

Tenors Ronan Ferrer, Eugene de los Santos and Randy Gilongo did a trio of “When Christmas Comes to Town,” an arrangement by Orlando dela Cruz.

Other campus-grown talents such as Austregelina Alfornon, Elisanta Cortes and Naomi Paz Sison harmonized to render the Catholic hymn to the Blessed Mother, “Quist Est Homo (Stabat Mater).”

Abdul Candao, an award-winning tenor based in Vienna, Austria also graced the concert with Ranera’s arrangement of the classic “O Holy Night.”

“The performers were very good especially the students, faculty and alumni of the Conservatory of Music,” Cayabyab said.

The concert ended with a community singing of “God Bless Everyone” and “Hark the Herald,” as arranged by UST Symphony Orchestra’s principal bassoonist Derrick Atangan.

Concert committee chair and UST Museum Director Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P. said the annual Christmas concert is a tribute to the friends and benefactors of UST.

“Each year’s performance has ascended from one level to the next. This is an opportunity to showcase the musical talent of the Thomasians, especially the students and the professors of the Conservatoryof Music,” Abano said.

The 14th edition of the Christmas concert was dedicated to the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order which administers the University.

The University also held the traditional lighting of Christmas displays, including the 70-ft. Christmas tree near the Grandstand on the concert’s gala night.  


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