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Bamboo Organ Concerts

24th February 2012

CONCERT 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival Feb. 24 to 29 St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas City

THE 37th International Bamboo Organ Festival (IBOF) returns this year to celebrate the 400th death anniversary of Giovanni Gabrieli. The Italian composer credited with popularizing the “concertate” style. “It’s a communal experience,” said conductor Eudenice Palaruan, “you are not watching. You are part of the performance.”

The etymology of the word “concertate,” Mr. Palaruan explained, reveals that it originally meant to “fight against,” which is why this format has two choirs facing each other, instruments doubling with voices, and a soloist competing against a multitude. Music comes at listeners from different directions and bathes them in sound.

By replicating the setup during Gabrieli’s time, St. Joseph Church in Las Piñas City will take on a semblance of Europe on the Festival’s opening night. Gabrieli’s “Omnes Gentes,” “Plaudite,” and “In Ecclesiis” demonstrate the musical innovations that eventually led to works for double choir by the likes of Heinrich Schutz and Johann Sebastian Bach. Without Gabrieli, said Mr. Palaruan, we might not have Bach’s counterpoint.

Tonight’s performance is only the beginning of a celebration that lasts until the end of February. Musicians and performers from Belgium, Austria, and the United States will be joining Filipino talents.

“It’s very easy to get international performers for the festival because they know that the bamboo organ can produce sounds you cannot hear from any other instrument. It has all the colors,” said Leo Renier, a Belgian organist who founded the IBOF and helped restore the organ.

“The Church is packed every time.”

After tonight’s concertate, dubbed Music for Double Choir, the event continues with Concert Under the Trees on Feb. 25, featuring the Filipino pop group The CompanY; and an Evening of Organ Music on Feb. 26. Awitan-Kristo: A Festival Para-Liturgy on the Advent, to be held Feb. 27, helps define the thrust of the 37th IBOF. “Worship is not just Catholic, it can be ecumenical,” said Fr. Nicolas Matias Sensgon, composer of well-known liturgical pieces that can run from simple, melodic lines to grandiose affairs with trumpets and trombones.

“Behind every song is a story,” Mr. Sengson added, and this makes the performance universal regardless of religion because “we all have histories, we all have our lives.” He promised to highlight the bamboo organ in his arrangements, which would include all the registers and sound effects the instrument was capable of.

The Festival closes on Feb. 29 with an Evening of Chamber Music, featuring excerpts from Gluck’s opera Orfeo, together with Bach’s Brandenburg Concert No. 5 and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra.
Msgr. Mario Martinez, St. Joseph Church parish priest and president of the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc., requested that people attend the Festival on any of the dates for the pure enjoyment of music.

“Sit down. Close your eyes. Just listen,” he said. “Words appeal to the intellect; music appeals to the heart. Our ears are underdeveloped. We must try to develop our hearing and listen to what is beautiful.”

For more details visit www.bambooorgan.org.

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