Message by Festival Director

Dr. Ramon P. Santos
National Artist for Music
Festival Director
5th International Rondalla/Plucked String Music Festival

The Strings of Unity International Festival was initially conceived by the Music Committee of the NCCA as a flagship project and a model activity of the UNESCO’s International Music Council’s Many Musics Action Programme on Sustaining and Enhancing Musical Diversity. The four previous Festivals have engaged the participation of plucked string ensembles from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, USA, Vietnam and the Philippines. The Strings of Unity International Festival shall feature concerts, outreach performances, international conference, and an exhibition on rondalla and plucked string tradition, and other special activities that promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the shared heritage of plucked string music.

It is in the spirit of celebrating the shared heritage of the plucked string music around the world that the Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through the Musicological Society of the Philippines (MSP) initiated the Strings of Unity: International Rondalla/Plucked String Festival in 2004 and held every three years since then in major cities in the Philippines and in Taiwan. This is a continuing effort to forge unity among nations and is part of the search for peace and understanding between peoples that share a common humanity and a common global environment.

This year, we are going to hold the festival in the City of Silay, a beautiful and historic city which thrived with a tradition of elegance, religiosity and heritage amidst a quiet opulence and a highly cultural environment. As you know, this is the land that produced such internationally acclaimed musical artists like Jovita Fuentes, Conchita Gaston, and Isang Tapales.

The Fifth International Rondalla Festival is looming to be truly a huge undertaking. There will be about 20 groups of artists who will be presenting their own musics, repertoires and styles of performance. There will be outreach performances to schools, orphanages, hospitals and even in prisons, in order to share the gift of music to the marginalized sectors of society.

The festival is also aimed to provide a venue and forum for the exchange of musical knowledge, at the same time discovering hidden treasures in the folk and modern traditions of peoples from different parts of the globe. Thus, there will be lectures by the different foreign contingents and a workshop on luthiery or instrument making from a highly proficient Filipino instrument maker from Dipolog and a famous luthier from Spain, together with lecture-demonstrations from India, Iran, Vietnam, and Thailand.

We also continue to explore the possibilities of these instruments with new transcriptions and with new compositions, as we are going to encourage local and even foreign composers to contribute their works in this festival. Today, we are featuring 11 of the best rondallas in the land and I hope that you will enjoy the variety of the music as well as the rendition that they will present in the concerts.

Finally there will also be an exhibit that will highlight the musical culture of the city of Silay, as well as the rondalla tradition in this part of the Philippines.

I therefore invite each and everyone to this event not only to enjoy the varied music of the different contingents, but also to be edified by the activities of sharing musical experiences with some of the world’s celebrated artists.