THE UST Singers staged its 35th international concert tour in South Korea from Feb. 19 to 26, performing in two major South Korean choral festivals in Icheon and Jeju alongside other choir groups from various countries.

This is the first time the mixed choral group held an international concert since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Warming up for the first choral festival, the group performed in the “Rejoice Choir Concert” at the Jeju Arts Center on Feb. 19.

Three more choir groups staged performances in the concert, namely The Riverside City College Chamber Singers, Voices of Bali, and the Jeju Ladies’ Choir. 

The UST Singers then performed in the 7th Jeju International Choral Festival and Symposium (JICF) opening concert on Feb. 21 and again in the JICF’s special concert on Feb. 22 at the Jeju Arts Center.

UST Singers founder Fidel Calalang Jr. also gave a lecture on Feb. 22 titled “The Choral Works of Fidel Gener Calalang Jr.” 

Calalang presented some of his original work, such as the “Adoramus Te Christe” and his original arrangements of the songs “Paru-Parong Bukid,” “Ikaw,” “Kailangan Kita,” and “The Prayer.” 

On Feb. 24, the UST Singers mounted a performance in the opening concert of the 1st Icheon International World Choir Festival at the Icheon Art Hall.

The choral group also staged a concert at the Daegu Concert House on Feb. 25 and a short concert at the Daegu Jeil Church on Feb. 26.

Calalang founded the 30-year-old choral group in 1992 to fulfill his dream of establishing a choir that would represent UST on national and international stages.

A year later, the UST Singers joined its first competition in Europe, despite being a “choir of completely nobody and inexperienced singers.”

“30 years ago, we were unnoticed, we were thirsting to be heard by audiences, and we were very eager to perform, even though at times we were received lukewarmly. It took the group a long while, with many attempts to be recognized and accepted by audiences on the local concert stage,” Calalang told the Varsitarian in an earlier interview.

“[Competing for the first time] was a daunting and ambitious task, but it ultimately opened the doors for the UST Singers’ rise to fame and popularity,” Calalang said.

The choral group won two second and two third prizes in its premiere competition in Germany and the United Kingdom in 1993, where it also had the opportunity to meet the late Pope St. John Paul II and sing at St. Peter’s Basilica.

In 1995, the UST Singers was named the first Asian grand winner of “The Choir of the World” in the UK. 

It won the competition for the second time in 2010 when it toured Europe and won all the first prizes in six competitions in the UK, Spain, Ireland, and Poland. 

“To perform successfully, whether a small or big performance is always an accomplishment, but to represent always the Philippines internationally in concerts, tours, and especially in competitions, is the biggest achievement of the choir,” Calalang said.


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