Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Live Concert at The CCP Grounds


Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra live at the CCP Grounds

Measures taken worldwide to curb the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19 have seen numerous classical concerts and events postponed and cancelled, and concert halls around the world closed for indefinite periods since March 2020.

Countries banned gatherings, tightened their borders, and many have now seen various lockdowns for month. Some things are slowly starting to open up, but seeing live music still remains a rare treat.

As some of us are continuing to stay at home to work, self-isolate and look after the family, things may be slowly opening up and going live around the world, but we’re lucky that some classical concerts and events are being held in outdoors and streamed online for everyone to see—for free in many cases. It’s something that continues to bring comfort, solidarity and some beautiful relief in trying times…

PPO Concert Program

And when I was given the opportunity to see the highly distinguished Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra [PPO] at the Cultural Center of the Philippines [CCP] concert right at the front lawn of the CCP grounds, I immediately said yes. After all, it was the first outdoor concert at the CCP Grounds and I wanted to be part of it. 

Seats were on a first come, first served basis. And strict health and safety protocols were in place during the duration of the event. It was even livestreamed via the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ official Facebook page so that even those fans in the comfort of their homes can watch and enjoy the show and the group’s performances.

The PPO gearing up for their first ever concert at the CCP grounds

The world-renowned Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra [PPO] returns to the concert stage after almost two years of hiatus due to the pandemic with a free live concert for the public dubbed as “PPO CONCERT AT THE CCP GROUNDS” held last March 11, 2022, Friday, under the baton of conductor Herminigildo Ranera. It was the moment we have all been waiting for. The opportunity to be watching live shows again, sharing the joy and the power of great singing with a live audience and enjoying the gift of music as a whole. 

The PPO has returned the stage with renewed variety and vitality and continued their commitment to present a diverse musical experience for its audiences. The concert started with classics from Franz von Suppe’s Light Calvary Overture followed by Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. The PPO also gave a spotlight on the innovative work of Filipino composer Francisco Buencamino Sr.’ Pizzacato Caprice. Then they had also performed another classic in George Bizet’s Carmen Suite [Prelude, Aragonaise, Habanera and Les Toreadors.] It was then followed by the more popular “I Will Follow Him” first recorded in 1961 by Franck Pourcel as an instrumental titled “Chariot” but rose to popularity after it was used in the Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act in 1992. 

The violinists play with such intensity

Some of the wind instruments from the PPO

The powerful voices of the duo The Nightingales’ Bianca Lopez-Aguila and Rhina Palma-Cruz delighted the crowd during the intermission where they sang a medley of songs from different genre.

The powerful divas of The Nightingales

Part 2 of the concert were the music from the Broadway musical starting with Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille from Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’ Hoffmann. It is a magnificent soprano aria that not too many sopranos can successfully sing and perform. It is a difficult aria in the opera’s first act after Spalanzi, an inventor, creates his greatest invention yet: a mechanical doll named Olympia. The said French song was performed by soprano Lara Maigue during the show.

Singer songwriter and soprano Lara Maigue sang Offenbach's Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille 

Such powerful performance by Maigue were followed by another superb performance from another guest, Mr. Bimbo Cerrudo who sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Music of the Night and Till I Hear You Sing medley.

Isay Alvarez and husband Robert Sena

Miss Saigon veteran and stage performer Isay Alvarez. Alvarez was part of the original Miss Saigon cast where she did the role of the bar girl named Gigi. Her husband, Robert Sena was also part of the original Miss Saigon cast where he played the role of Thuy and The Engineer. The veteran stage actors sang two songs from Miss Saigon that night with Sun and Moon and The Last Night of The World.  

Another superb performance from husband and wife, Robert Sena and Isay Alvarez

Miss Saigon veterans Isay Alvarez and Robert Sena sang songs from the said musical

To further showcase the Filipino music culture, the PPO also performed greatest Filipino composers’ songs such as Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig performed by Isay Alvarez while husband Robert Sena did a powerful rendition of Nicanor Abelardo’s Bituing Marikit.

Soprano and singer-songwriter Lara Maigue together with Bo Cerrudo sang Aaron Paul Del Rosario’s Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin.

The audience went wild during the PPO’s performance of D’ Manila Sounds where they’ve played some of the most favorite songs such as Hotdog's "Manila,"  and "Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko," Cinderella's "TL Ako Sayo,VST & Company’s “Ipagpatawad Mo,” “Awitin Mo Isasayaw Ko,”  "Rock Baby Rock," and APO Hiking Society's 'Pumapatak Ang Ulan," among many other hits during the disco era.  

It was indeed a magical evening with the country’s orchestra with esteemed Filipino artists Lara Maigue, Bo Cerrudo, Robert Sena, Isay Alvarez and the Nightingales.  The rest of the guests had performed a medley of Canseco, Cruz and Cayabyab’s OPM medley that had wowed the audience.

For the PPO's encore, the audience went crazy over PPO's medley of the most popular K-pop music with songs from Psy's Gangnam Style, Wonder Girl's Nobody, Super Junior's Sorry Sorry Sorry, Bigbang's Fantastic Baby, Kim Kyung Seung and Park Sang Hee's Sigriswil (from the series 'Crash Landing On You'), Momoland's Boom Boom, Blackpink's Kill This Love and of course, everyone's favorite, BTS' Butter

Once more, PPO had shown that an orchestra is not just mere for classical  and opera music but it can also play all kinds of music even the fast songs that we can all dance to. 


Moi, my nephew Kyle and hubby Jason all enjoyed the show. 

Moi and Kyle

Critic Sergei Bulanov wrote in Music Life: “A burning desire to make music, a sincere love for it, are the key qualities of any musician, without which genuine art is impossible. And the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra does it again and again proves a shining example of this commonplace truth.” Their love and passion for making music together and to be able to share it to their audiences makes such evening a magical one. 

The night ended with a strong applause of appreciation from the audience which continued even after some standing ovations. We'd like to thank the Cultural Center of the Philippines [CCP] for giving us this opportunity to watch the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra to perform live for free--giving every Filipino a chance to see them and hear them (both online and in person), staying true to their goal of bringing music closer to every Filipino across the world. 

Special thanks to Ms. Annie Alejo for helping us secure front row seats. My nephew Kyle, who's a music fan says it is indeed a memorable night for a youngster like him to see the PPO who performed live before his very eyes. Hoping for more PPO concert soon now that we have loosen our restrictions. 

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

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