IT WAS on a rainy evening last December 20, 2022, when the University of the Philippines’ Symphony Orchestra (UPSO), under the baton of music director Josefino Chino Toledo, made its successful first ever performance in Davao City. The UPSO concert, dubbed as “Pasko at Musika ng UP Symphony Orchestra,” was held at the University of SouthEastern Philippines’ Sports and Cultural Center, for the benefit of the UP Mindanao Foundation Scholarship Program.
The concert was an official part of the Davao City Government’s Pasko Fiesta activities; and was organized in cooperation with UP Mindanao, UP Alumni Association Davao, Inc., and UP Mindanao Foundation, Inc. Featured artists included Davao’s very own Anya Evangelista (soprano), Malvin Macasaet (tenor), Koro Kantahanay (the official university choir of UP Mindanao) plus the special participation of UPSO principal flutist, Raymond Sarreal.
Welcoming the mostly UP Alumni headed by Angie Angliongto and John Gaisano and UP Mindanao students led by UP Mindanao Chancellor Lyre Anni E. Murao, which comprised the rather very supportive audience, was UP President Danilo Concepcion. Concepcion was also in Davao to join the city officials in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Davao City Public Hospital (DCPH) located at the UP Mindanao campus in Mintal, Davao City.
The DCPH is envisioned to provide health care and medical intervention for the citizens of the Third District. The proposed hospital will definitely help the present lone public hospital operating in Davao City, the Southern Philippines Medical Center, in treating and caring for the sick.
As narrated by UP President Concepcion, the UP Symphony Orchestra, which is tagged as the “Orkestra ng Bayan,” was established by virtue of the University of the Philippines Board of Regents in August 30, 2018.
The orchestra serves as the official system-wide orchestra of UP. It is supported by the UP System Fund and hosted by the UP College of Music. The orchestra is comprised of 65 members from the UP community. It includes alumni members, students, faculty members, and staff from all UP campuses.
The UPSO serves as training ground for both composers and musicians; and it also serves as representative of the country in the international music arena. UPSO performs Filipino, Asian, contemporary, and new works in addition to the standard orchestra repertoire. UPSO is under the direction of international composer-conductor Josefino Chino Toledo who is also a professor of Composition and Theory and a University Artist III in UP.
Toledo is presently the Chairman of the Department of Composition and Theory in the UP College of Music. Toledo studied music in UP, Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Paris Conservatory. His music has been described as “pure and powerful,” “full of energy and often bears a relationship with the music of Southeast Asia.”
When UPSO started its performance with the playing of the National Anthem during the Davao concert, the audience readily became aware and convinced that it was going to be a most memorable evening of unforgettable music performance to end the year. It was truly a special musical experience that doesn’t happen that often in the city. I am just glad that I attended the concert despite the busy holiday schedule.
Well applauded as well were the exceptional performances of Davao artists Anya Evangelista and Malvin Macasaet. Anya, a theater performer and opera singer, was a former protégé of Musikademy music maestro and Himig Singer founder, Bong Aviola. She’s a graduate of the UP College of Music under the tutelage of Prof. Kitchy Valdellon-Molina.
Anya has performed in several concerts, festivals, and competitions not only in Manila but in various countries in Europe as well. On the other hand, Malvin Macasaet is a licensed PE, Health and Music High School teacher. Malvin has degrees in Bachelor in Secondary Education from USEP; and earned a degree in Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting from UP Diliman. Malvin teaches vocal performance at the UP College of Music Extension Program and in his private studio, the Malvin Beethoven Macasaet Online Music Lessons.
Here’s hoping there will be more cultural activities in Davao this New Year 2023. May music improve our well-being with the many challenges we are constantly facing in life.
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