Ruben Reyes, one of the pioneers of the guitar quartet and guitar ensemble in the Philippines, passed away on Jan. 20 at the age of 62 due to complications of lung cancer.  

Rayna, Reyes’ daughter, told the Varsitarian that his father was diagnosed with cancer back in November 2021.  

Reyes took classical guitar studies at the Philippine Women’s University under the tutelage of Billy Guerrero before transferring to the University to study for the degree bachelor of music in performance, major in guitar. 

In 2014, Reyes obtained his master’s degree in music (guitar), summa cum laude, at the UST Graduate School. 

Reyes taught in the Conservatory of Music under the Guitar Department from 1994 to 2011. He later became coordinator for the same department and established the award-winning ensemble UST Guitar Octet. 

“Daddy, as a performer, was a perfectionist. As a teacher, he was a believer of hard work over talent, and had no patience for mediocrity,” Rayna said. 

“He taught me that learning wasn’t just about parroting a textbook, but it was the process of finding the truth, even if it meant questioning your own beliefs,” she added. 

Before his death, Reyes founded and became the music director of the Silangan Chamber Guitar Ensemble, a group that challenges the idea that classical guitar is only a solo instrument. 

In 2008, Reyes was the featured guitarist and musical arranger for guitar in the album “O Naraniag a Bulan” of Tawid Publications, a collection of Ilocano love songs.

FilFest Cultural Foundation invited Reyes to the 2009 “Pluck and Struck” concert where he became one of the featured soloists. He, together with the FilFest Orchestra,  performed “Concerto Elegiaco for Guitar and Orchestra” by Leo Brouwer.  

Reyes performed as well for the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Filipino Artist Series, where he premiered Bernardino Custodio’s “Prelude” and “Fugue for Guitar” in 1994. 

An online memorial service for Reyes was held from Jan. 21 to 22. 

His remains were brought to Valley of Sympathy Memorial Park in Antipolo on Jan. 23. ###


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