Tag: chorister

#KoristaAko: De Pano Sisters

Korista Ako

Time flies when you’re having fun, indeed. First quarter of the year is ending, and since Holy Week came in a little early, March became a busy month for most koristas, especially those in the church ministry. We got to thank our church musicians for making our Holy Week more solemn, reflective, and meaningful with their beautiful music.

March is also Women’s Month, so here’s a feature on three women–sisters, actually–who are great choristers I admire (and I sure am you will, too, and be encouraged to sing in a choir as well, after reading this!).

Presenting our Koristas for this month, the De Pano Sisters: Nell Armin De Pano-Raralio (Armin), Nina Rose Aurora De Pano (Niner), and Nelda Aurora De Pano-Supnet (Dada).

L-R: De Pano Sisters--Dada, Niner, Armin.
L-R: De Pano Sisters–Dada, Niner, Armin.

Belonging to a family of choristers (church choristers at that), all three currently sing (and go on concert tours) together with the Ateneo Chamber Singers. And apart from being choristers, Armin has a day job as a GM of a logistics company and GM of a back-office service provider, Dada is a stay-at-home wife and mom, and Niner is a session musician and gospel songwriter. Dada sings Alto 2, Armin sings Soprano 2, while Niner started to sing Soprano 2 but is now assigned the Alto 1 line (Their voices almost complete the treble section!).


What choirs have you joined, from past to present?
Dada: As I remember it: KFUMC Cherub Choir, KFUMC Tagalog Choir, KFUMC Chancel Choir, Himig Scientia, Tanglaw Singers, ACGC, SINAG, Uno, Ateneo Chamber Singers, Philippine Chamber Choir, San Miguel Master Chorale, Philippine Vocal Ensemble.
Presently actively singing with The Ateneo Chamber Singers and the KFUMC combined Tagalog and Chancel Choirs.

Armin: 1) Church: Kamuning First United Methodist Church, all choirs as I grew up: children’s choir, tagalog choir, Chancel Choir, youth choir, etc., as member, conductor, or accompanist (Male Chorale). “The singing Methodists” is the underlying tradition in our early and unbroken involvement in church music.
2) School: Intl School Manila: Girls Chorus, A’Capella Choir, and the high school Octet. In Ateneo, Ateneo College Glee Club. For 2 years also, I was a member of the Saringhimig under George Hernandez of UP and AILM.
3) Ateneo Chamber Singers, which I joined the year after I was widowed. Singing again in a serious (serious?!!??) choir was a real comfort and companion to me in my widowhood, doing something I enjoyed, something challenging (no joke entering a choir at age 46—it was most humbling!) and something that allowed me to be in the close fellowship of people in ACS. It’s a joy to be in this family.

Niner: As my sisters related, started singing with the choir as a young child (with Ate Armin as conductor!) with the Kamuning First United Methodist Church’s CHERUB CHOIR. In my teens I sang with the youth choir otherwise called TAGALOG CHOIR under my Dad’s sister Zenaida Parungao at first, then under Kuya Arnel (De Pano, another De Pano sibling who is notable as chorister, composer, and arranger). Then on to the big leagues, the adult choir, the Chancel Choir under, originally, my Dad’s sister Zenaida, afterwards under Ate Armin and Kuya Arnel. It would be fitting to acknowledge the great Methodist tradition of singing any time, anywhere — aside from my siblings, uncles and aunts and cousins were in the choir with us one time or another.

I also sang with our high school choir HIMIG SCIENTIA under Mrs. Letty Lomibao – that was in Quezon City Science High School. During my HS days I also sang with Tanglaw Singers, a Methodist youth group made up of youth from different churches. Then Sinag, another Methodist youth group under Kuya Arnel music ministry. For some time I was an honorary singing member in SARINGHIMIG under George Hernandez. I then sang with the Ateneo College Glee Club under Joel Navarro. I also got invited to sing with the HIMIG SINGERS of Davao under Alvin Aviola aka Max aka Kuya Bong. Joined the SMMC too. And Philippine Vocal Ensemble. And of course the ATENEO CHAMBER SINGERS.


Why did you join the choir? What was that something (or someone) that influenced you?

Dada: Music has always been my family’s ministry. So I joined the Cherub Choir at around 5 years old and I never stopped singing since.

Armin: It was the most natural thing to do—we were born to singing Methodist families on both sides. All of us 9 siblings went the same route, sang in all choirs, as ALL our children also became inevitable recruits to the children’s choir of their generation. Sadly, as in my children’s case, the kids have been less passionate about choir singing.

The reason we sing is because it really is a gift the Lord has given every singer to be used and made fruitful—music is the language of the soul, singing is twice praying, etc. What is worship without song? A wedding without music? A celebration, a thanksgiving, or a sadness, a yearning, without expression in music? Mahirap, no? For me the power of music is akin to the beauty of nature. You capture a little, and, really, it’s a lot: for the singer, for the listener. And so we sing. Praise God!

Niner: Joining the choir is a natural progression in my family — what with numerous aunts, uncles, parents, siblings to emulate. I stayed with the choir because of the joy it brings. It has since become my ministry.


What is your most unforgettable choral moment?

Armin: As you see in Slum Books, “too many to mention.” Every time we get a song right is a choral moment for me. Every time we hear/encounter beautiful choral music (other choirs) is a choral moment for me. And to have known, remain friends with, to work and sing with, the generation of the great movers of Philippine choral music: what a kick it is. It makes me proud, thankful, and humble.

Niner: Gaya ni Ate (Armin), every singing event is a choral moment to me — some grander than normal but every time I sing brings out the best in me.

Dada: Probably when I was part of the all children’s choir that lined up the Malacañang Palace driveway and main lobby singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and ‘Christus vincit, Christus regnat; Christus, Christus imperat!’ during Pope John Paul’s very first visit to Manila. I was still in Elementary School then. A close second would be singing for the Papal Mass with Pope Francis in January 2015.


As sisters, have you toured with the choir together?

Dada and Niner touring together during college at the Ateneo in California.
Dada and Niner touring together during college.

Dada: I have toured with Cha Nanu (their nickname for Niner) more times than with Ate Armin. To wit, with ACGC in 1986 for the United Airlines’ Sister-city Exchange Program (to Sacramento, CA); with ACGC again in 2000; with SMMC to Taiwan and Korea in 2002-2003; with the Ateneo Chamber Singers in 2003 (US), 2006 (Europe and Singapore, with Ate Armin also), 2008 (US, Nanu only), 2009 Tokyo, Japan and Taipei (with both Ates), 2012 to Sapporro, Japan (with Nanu only), 2014 to Singapore (with both).

Armin: They (Niner and Dada) have also been session musicians together; just over a year apart, age-wise, they’ve been together a lot more.



More recently, the three sisters went together with the ACS in Singapore for the Three Festival.
More recently, the three sisters sang with the ACS in Singapore for the Three Festival in 2014.

How was the experience being with family members in a choir?

Armin: We love it. My siblings and I sing together every Sunday in church, year in, year out. Of 9 children in the family, 7 of us were members of the Ateneo College Glee Club,& 2 of my sisters in law were ACGC members, too, making us quite possibly candidates for the biggest Glee Club family. My Kuya Albert and I were in Saringhimig together. And, as you know, the DePano siblings were in SMMC* together, too. We like each other, we like singing together. We are also big supporters of Arnel’s entire music ministry. Buy One Take All applies to us.

*SMMC is San Miguel Master Chorale–Dada and Niner, with Arnel

Dada: As the youngest of us 3 there is more financial security when touring with the Ates. Hehehe.

Niner: Masaya! We push each other to sing our best — pulisan sa nota, okrayan at tawanan sa mistakes. But I think having siblings in the choir contribute much to the homogeneous sound of a choir — our voices share a timbre that naturally blend.


#KoristaAko dahil:

Karapatdapat na ibalik ang lahat ng papuri sa Panginoon na Syang Bukal ng lahat ng grasya at pagpapala, sa pamamagitan ng aking pagawit. – Dada De Pano Supnet

In my case, the question would probably rather be: How can I not be a korista? – Armin De Pano Raralio

Ang pag-awit ang talentong iginawad ng Diyos sa akin, natural kailangan Kong umawit para sa Kanya! Lahat ng iba pang karanasang dala ng pag awit ay karagdagan pang biyaya mula sa Kanya. – Niner De Pano

With the Ateneo Chamber Singers in a concert at the Philamlife Auditorium.
With the Ateneo Chamber Singers in a concert at the Philamlife Auditorium.

Big thanks go to the De Pano Sisters for sharing their simple lives intertwined by music.

#KoristaAko is powered by Touringkitty. Tune in for the latest post every last week of the month. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

#KoristaAko: Jon Philippe Go

Another project came into mind last month: To feature chorister profiles on the blog, with the goal of inspiring and encouraging aspiring singers and choristers.

And so, #KoristaAko is born!

Are you one? Shoot me an email if you want to be featured!
Are you one? Shoot me an email if you want to be featured!

In photo is my now Youth Choir, the Shrine of Jesus Children and Youth Choir, during the Madz et al performance last year.

There’s just too many already, you might think. But why not make the whole country sing? Philippine Madrigal Singers founder, Professor Andrea O. Veneracion had dreamed of a Singing Philippines, and now we see choirs blossoming everywhere–in the barangays, places of worship, schools, companies, even among friends. Isn’t it great to see everyone really singing? And it’s much more fun singing in a group!

For our first Korista (and since it’s the Finale Weekend already of The Voice of the Philippines, I’d like to introduce you to the Singing Chemist, Jon Philippe Go! (YES, he is a certified Korista!)

Credit: The Voice of the Philippines Facebook Page.
Credit: The Voice of the Philippines Facebook Page.

Name: Jon Philippe Go

Current profession: Chemist

Choir/s joined:
Philippine Vocal Ensemble (October 2012 – present)
UST College of Science Glee Club (June 2006 – March 2009)

Current projects:
This year will be an exciting year for PVE because we are gearing up for an upcoming tour. I can’t spill all details yet, but we will be part of various choral festivals and competitions to work our way towards it. In a nutshell, PVE will be ubiquitous for 2015!

Why did you join the choir? What was that something or someone that influenced you?

I started out as a member of our college choir in UST back in 2006, the College of Science Glee Club (CSGC). I always had a love for singing but what pushed me to join was when I heard them perform a playful rendition Maestro Ryan Cayabyab’s novelty hit, Da Coconut Nut, during our college orientation as freshmen. At that moment, I already knew I wanted to join CSGC.

After graduating from college, I left the choral scene for a while to pursue my career as a chemist but later on auditioned for the Philippine Vocal Ensemble (PVE) where I was introduced to many more facets of choral music. I wanted to learn more—that was my motivation—and words aren’t really enough to express how thankful I am for the amount of training both these groups have provided me. Proud korista here, 6 years and counting!

What is your favourite song arranged or composed for choir and why?
This is always a hard question to answer because it changes seasonally. Right now, it has to be Fr. Arnold Zamora’s arrangement of Anima Christi. The melody is very straightforward and the harmonies exude so much tranquility whenever I listen to it.

What was the hardest piece you’ve studied?
I’d say these two are equally difficult: Der Herr ist König by Johann Heinrich Rolle and Sinulog by Dyzon Pesquera. Both are so hard that it’s even harder to choose between them!

Any choir/s or vocal ensembles you look up to and why?
It has to be the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Swingle Singers. The Madz because of their immense understanding of all the pieces they sing, and they always – ALWAYS – give everyone a great show once they step on the stage. I only wish to be even half as good as them!

The Swingles, on the other hand, simply oozes with so much creativity, musicality, and artistry! I first heard them perform with the Madz in CCP and I just had my jaw left in awe. Here, here! Let me pick it up first.

What is your most unforgettable moment—either a concert booboo or triumph—in the choir?
It was one of those days when we had to perform in a train station to promote the Busan Choral Competition in South Korea last 2013. I was to do the solo line for Man in the Mirror (arr. Annie Nepomuceno), which I’ve sung countless times, and we were all getting ready.

Everyone had their eyes locked in on our conductor, mine included. The first note, which was the soloist’s line, was given twice and I gave back a wee smirk that signaled I already got it. But I guess it was bound to happen sooner in my career—I started a half-step lower that would’ve thrown off the entire performance!

No sooner than I started singing the first syllable of the word “Gonna” had wild stares come piercing through me like a laser beam from our conductor. I understood then what had happened and by God’s angels I was able to salvage it by scooping up the note towards the second syllable, in a croon, leading to the right key! THAT will never be forgotten and was definitely a highlight of my tour with the PVE. Hahaha!!!

This is the competition he was talking about--the Busan Choral Festival and Competition. Photo credit: Raul Supnet.
This is the competition he was talking about–the Busan Choral Festival and Competition. Photo credit: Raul Supnet.

#KoristaAko dahil:
Korista ako dahil naa-appreciate ko ang mga nagka-clash na harmonies!



And if you’re asking, YES, the PVE is having auditions, the last day is TOMORROW NIGHT. See post below:

From their Facebook Page: The Philippine Vocal Ensemble will be opening AUDITIONS this February 20 and 27, 8pm at the Pasig Capitol Community Church, 19 San Rafael St., Kapitolyo, Pasig city. Kindly prepare 2 songs of contrasting character sung a cappella. You may contact Joel Aquino – +63920-9229628 or Alexis Joven – +63906-3573202, or send an email at philippinevocalensemble(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)ph or a private message at Facebook for any questions.



And yes, if you’re asking again, he’s generously shared his social media sites so we could continue following the Singing Chemist’s journey beyond The Voice of the Philippines:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JPhilippeGo
Instagram: @JPhilippeGo
Twitter: @JPhilippeGo


Thank you so much for your generous answers, Philippe! Wishing you well in your musical journey, and hope to see you in your next performance.


#KoristaAko is powered by Touringkitty. Tune in for the next post on the last Wednesday of March 2015. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.