Music for cause

published 30 October 2016
SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Jodeline Michaela Pecson started playing the violin when she was four years old. Today, she is the concertmaster of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra and she does not mind the long hours she and her co-members spend together in rehearsals and performances. 
“We’re like one big happy family now,” she says. 
One such reason to spend time as family is preparing for Strings Like Teen Spirit, the MSJO’s fundraising concert this Saturday, November 5, 7:30 in the evening at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino-CCP Little Theater. 
The 30 or so members of the youth orchestra are looking for a home. Proceeds from the concert will go to the renovation of interiors of their recital hall at the Circuit Lane in Circuit Makati—what used to be the Sta. Ana racetrack. This new venue should be an improvement over their practice venues along the halls of some Glorietta malls, where they are able to entertain and inspire shoppers despite the lack of technical (acoustic) reinforcements. 
For Saturday’s concert, the children—ages ranging from nine to 18—will play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart alongside contemporary, popular pieces of Queen, Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana.  
Tickets for the show come at P1,000 each and are available at Ticketworld, MSO Music Academy branches (Taft Avenue and Glorietta 5) and at the CCP. Donations and sponsorships come in packages of P10,000, P30,000 and P100,000. 
“The music guides me to be a better person for myself and my fellowmen,” says 17-year-old violist Angel Joyce Esteban, who started playing at age 13. And she does not stop there. “To learn music is to discover life. One of my goals is to collect different instruments and learn how to play them all. So far, I have seven of them.”
The children are ably guided by their conductor, Professor Jeffrey Solares. He says he does not consider what they do as entertainment, per se. “Our mission is closer to education or human development. What we try to sell are goods for the spirit—things that nurture the soul.”
Visit or call the MSO Academy at 09164087549 for details. 
Meanwhile, 36-year-old pianist and harpist Ryan Villamor believes that jazz in the Philippines needs awakening and hard work. The Ryan Villamor Trio performed last week at Jazz Sessions at the Ayala Museum, an event organized by the Ayala Foundation in partnership with Tago Jazz Cafe. The trio—Ryan on piano, Given Bacani on drums and Josh Tulagan on bass—showcased its brand of “intuitive music” to an intimate audience. 
The trio performed 15 songs, a mix of jazzy renditions of pop tunes, standards, and sounds for introspection. The central pieces during the show, however, were those that carried a deeply personal theme for Villamor—Ugoy ng Duyan, and two compositions, Laging Kasama and Bedside, both for Villamor’s mother. She is battling Stage 4 ovarian cancer which doctors say has metastasized to the stomach. 
Most of us are familiar with Ugoy ng Duyan, a lullabye about a mother’s love. “Sana’y di magmaliw ang dati kong araw/ Nang munti pang bata sa piling ni Nanay.” 
Laging Kasama evokes Villamor’s memories of the time when, as a young boy, his mother brought him everywhere she went because he did not have a nanny. 
Bedside, on the other hand, was drawn from Villamor’s sentiments and reflections while caring for his mom. 
One is awed by the skill of the performers, but even more so by the depth and intensity of Villamor’s love for his ailing mother, now undergoing a thrice-weekly hydrogen peroxide infusion treatment, and his desire to help her manage her pain. “The family is still hoping for a miracle,” he says.  
The Ryan Villamor Trio will have benefit gigs for Ryan’s mother’s treatment. The gigs will be on November 5 at Bar 1951 in Malate and November 19 at Tago Jazz Cafe on Main Avenue, near Cubao. Tickets sell for P300 each. 
Text 09177189840 or search Ryan Villamor Music on Facebook for details.