A THOMASIAN received a major award for his Gregorian chant-inspired piece at the Hiligaynon Art Song Workshop on Nov. 21.

Mark Wilson Estrada, a composition major at the Conservatory of Music, received the Jose Contreras Award for his piece titled “Ambahanon sa Kagab-Ihon,” which means “Night Song.”

The lyrics were based on a poem of the same title written by the late Ariston Em. Echevarria, a journalist who wrote in Hiligaynon and English.

The music was built in quintal-quartal harmony, or chords stacked in intervals of perfect fourths and fifths, which make a suspended, unanchored sound that is distinct from regular major and minor chords. 

Estrada said he used a saronay scale interval as the melodic line of the piece in trying to establish his own style. 

Saronay is a small kind of kulintang, an instrument typically made of eight graduated gongs.

Except for Estrada, all workshop participants were of Hiligaynon origin. 

The Hiligaynon Art Song Workshop seeks to promote the use of Hiligaynon as text for new art songs.

The workshop was spearheaded by the Center for Heritage and Indigenous Cultures of the University of San Agustin in the province of Iloilo. 

It was held on Nov. 2 via Zoom, with Jude Balsamo, a seasoned composer-pianist and alumnus of UST Graduate School, as resource person and special guest.

Winning pieces were premiered on the Facebook page of the Center for Heritage and Indigenous Cultures. A. N. C. Cruz


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