The “golden harvest” is now 30 years old!
The Madz et al, the first and largest network of Filipino choral groups, celebrated 30 years of singing together through a weeklong festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last April 1-6.
Composed of over 50 choirs, the Madz et al network gathers in an annual choral festival which gained a regular following with its varied themes per year. As part of the Philippine Madrigal Singers family, the choirs are also invited to guest in different projects and concerts of their mother choir.
The choirs, by themselves, are equally exceptional. Trained, mentored, and handled by members and alumni of the Madz, the Madz et al choirs have toured and won competitions both here and abroad.
Madz founder, Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion, considers this her “golden harvest.” With her ultimate goal of having a Singing Philippines, the Madz et al is a testimony that our country is indeed blessed with such riches in choral music.
Being a Madz alumna, I am blessed to handle my own choral group, the Shrine of Jesus Children’s Choir. As I trace back my choral conducting journey, I consider myself an accidental conductor.
Almost eight years back, I just want to serve again in the church, after being inactive because of school and Madz duties. Ton (my husband, who was then my boyfriend), had started serving for the church in the Reclamation area, the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus. When I found out that there is no children’s choir at the church, I opened up the idea of forming one, so we both set an appointment with the Rector, Monsignor Bobby Canlas, and he welcomed the idea very much.
Mons Bobby assisted us in setting up the group, through announcements during the Mass, and he even assigned one of his staff to assist us during auditions. After which, we had literally a handful of members–ten of them, whom we started training to serve for the monthly children’s mass every Third Sunday of the month. Unfortunately, I was about to leave for the Madz tour then, so Ton took over the kids. And on June 2006, during Father’s Day, those ten kids had sung their first mass as a group.
Since then, the kids grew in numbers, and literally grew bigger than us! Currently, we maintain a regular membership of 30, composed of students aged 10-18, from nearby cities and municipalities. The members are still singing treble voices, but we are slowly on the works of transitioning to a youth choir with mixed voices, God-willing.
For this Madz et al performance, we were asked to commission a new piece for our choir. Then we chose two other pieces. Click on the titles for our video links below:
1. Ave Maria (Alejandro Consolacion II). This was AJ’s old work, from 1996, which he wrote for our school choir.
2. Alamat (Augusto Espino). We premiered this commissioned piece with poetry written by Ramon Devora and the magnificent music of Augusto Espino.
3. Ano Kaya ang Kapalaran (Francisco Santiago). With a couple of weeks left before the performance, I hurriedly wrote arrangement and did a little choreography for this Filipino favorite. I had a very willing volunteer who sang the solo.
Here are some snapshots during the concert night:
We’re glad to be part of the 30th anniversary. We have consistently taken part in the et al festivals and other Madz et al projects since 2008. We are blessed with the many opportunities the Madz et al had brought about to our kids, like performances at the CCP Main Theater, and even TV guestings.
To our dear composers, AJ and Sir Agot, thank you for sharing with us God’s gift of music. To our ever dearest pianist, my good friend, Michelle Nicolasora, thank you for always being humble and available for me and my choir. To Ton, needless to say, thank you for being with me through all of this, and for assisting again in guitar.
I’d like to thank the Madz for this opportunity. Indeed the mission of Ma’am OA, through the Madz et al, is alive through all the choirs and future choirs that will be born out of love for singing.
I thank likewise Mons Bobby, for training me to be a leader, especially in the church ministry. Thank you for the constant guidance, support, and inspiration, especially when challenges arise.
To the parents of our members, a million thanks once again. We are happy that you have chosen the Shrine for your children’s church service. Thank you for believing and supporting our endeavors.
The SOJCC is rooted in church service, but as artists, we have the responsibility to also teach them to sing well so they could serve better. I am glad to be doing both things that I truly enjoy–serving the church through music making.
To the Madz et al choirs and conductors, congratulations! Here’s to 30 more years and maybe twice more the number of choirs that will be born and be minstrels of music around the world. Until the next performance.
Congratulations as well to the organizers, the Madz members themselves, for being at the forefront of this project. To Ate Pearl Reyes, coordinating all those choirs and conductors is one tough job, and you have done it well every year! To the members who served as stage managers, backstage persons, reception persons, and whathaveyou, kudos to all! To Sir Mark, for giving us challenging themes every year. This year, we really were made to THINK!