PH Madrigal Singers wow sold-out audience in LA County
NORTHRIDGE, California — The sound was undeniably Renaissance, like spatially separate choirs singing in alternation, a capella — just how the Philippine Madrigal Singers (also known as Madz) founder Andrea O. Veneracion meant it to be some 54 years ago.
The Madz performed at Northridge Performing Center (Plaza del Sol of Cal State University in Northridge) August 19, one year after winning the 64th International Choral competition in Arezzo, Italy, qualifying them to compete again in the European Grand Prix in Tolosa, Spain, in November.
More than half of the ticketholders coming from various cities in Southern California were from the postwar Baby Boom generation, who have either watched the group’s performances in Manila or have heard of their fame.
The UP Madrigal Singers, is the first choir to twice win the European Grand Prix for choral singing in 1997 and 2007. The European Grand Prix (in French, Grand Prix Européen de Chant Choral), commonly shortened to European Choral Grand Prix or GPE) is an annual competition between the winners of six European choral face-offs. It was inaugurated in 1989. As of 2007, one choir from Japan and three choirs from the United States have won the GPE. The Madz of the Philippines is the only choir to snag the GPE twice.
“Their sound is overwhelming, with the well-controlled quality of voices. Even with your eyes closed you’d know it’s them,” said Ed Nepomuceno, formerly with the Madz before he immigrated to the US in 1992. He is now the director of the LA-based Harana Men’s Choir.
Among the first time attendees to a Madz concert was Joshua N. of Cerritos, 31, who came to drive for his mother, a graduate of music from the University of the Philippines. He noticed that the choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio, in his forties, was seated with the choir in a semicircle. He sings with them while at the same time conducting. Carpio took the choir’s helm in 2001.
“That’s the Madrigal Singers’ style, taking after the form of Renaissance period singers who would seat in semicircle in various gatherings, courtyards and Masses, among other venues,” explained Annie Nepomuceno, also actively involved with the Madz since 1985. With her husband Ed, Annie promotes and produces shows featuring Filipino musical talents mostly based in the U.S.
“Not only were we part of the Madrigal Singers, but we are also delighted to reintroduce them to our communities in the States because of their extraordinary talent,” Annie told the INQUIRER.net. She said the group’s last performance in LA was six years ago.
The singers’ versatility gave justice to various music genres and was evident in the diversity of their repertoire, including richly textured of polyphonic melodies heard in Latin masses, from “Lux Aeterna” and “Magnifikat” by Ily Matthew Maniano (b. 1988), “Agnus Dei” by Nilo Alcala II (b. 1978) to love songs by Arnold Zamora (b. 1961), arranged by Ryan Cayabyab – “My Life in You,” “Tenderly” (arranged by Ily Matthew Maniano). Also crowd pleasers folk songs from various regions like the Ilocano “Osi-Osi” arranged by Eudenice Palaruan (b. 1968), “Ili-ili Tulog Anay,” arranged by Ily Matthew Maniano, and “Kaisa-isa Niyan,” arranged by Nilo Alcala II (b. 1978).
One of the group’s responses to the three encores demanded by an adoring audience was Cayabyab’s “Da Coconut tree,” with the funny moves from last year’s Philpop finalist, JC Jose Philpop replaced Cayabyab’s Metropop competition). Their fans also cheered Tom Umberto’s rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me.” The colorfully Filipiniana dressed singers captured the tapestry and vastness of the jungle sounds in the “Circle of Life,” also performed by Umberto.
The Madrigal Singers will take a short break and then prepare for the November Grand Prix competition in Spain, where it will try to win its third Grand Prix award.
The current members of the ensemble include Trisha Kay Piao, Ily Matthew Maniano, Nil’s Emerson Flores, Emmanuel De Leon, Maria Riva Ferrer, John Christian Jose, Katrina Marie Saga, Bernadette Mamauag, Jeanie Lynne Tolentino, Jacquelyn Sentineral, Keiko Cressida Cayanga, Ma. Pilar Charlene Ramos, April Glory de Guzman, Maria Blanca Krystl Buesa, Tomas Umberto Virtucio, Richmond Montilla, John Philip Bautista, Mark Allen Estrera, Joey Vargas, Rommel Taniegra, Paul Manet and John Ryan Aguila Martinez.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.