The Philippine Rondalla and Choir in Taiwan

Performance-tour in Yilan, Taiwan (as part of launching Cuerdas Global)

15-22 December 2014/ Yilan City, Tainan, Miaoli county, Taiwan

After the launching of the Cuerdas Global project (the Strings of Unity festival mounted outside of the Philippines) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in February 2014, the initial implementation of the project was a performance-tour in Taiwan featuring a Philippine rondalla group and a choir. Mr. Vincent Li, the founder and owner of the Formosa Music Melody Center in Yilan City, hosted and managed the event.

The Dipolog Community Rondalla was the group featured in this performance-tour, joined by eight members of the Novo Concertante chamber chorale and Stefanie Quintin, a soprano vocalist. Over eight days, a total of 9 performances were held in different schools and performance halls in Yilan, Tainan and Miaoli in Taiwan: at the Fu-Shing Junior High School, the Lize Elementary School, the Wu-Sha Junior High School; at Yilan University, Fo-Guang University and the Tainan National University of the Arts (TNUA) Performance Hall; as well as public concerts at the Northern Miaoli Art Center, at Yilan Performing Arts Center, and at the National Centre for Traditional Arts (NCTA) in Yilan county.

Furthermore, to realize an educational goal of the project, a highly informative exhibition on Philippine rondalla was shown.

Program of the performance-tour

Crafting a formidable repertoire was an important element of the performance-tour: it consisted of Philippine folk, popular, classical and avant-garde music pieces. Three Taiwanese folk songs (Diu Diu Dang, Ching Ke Sau and Tau Hua Guo) were arranged for rondalla by the Dipolog Community Rondalla, as requested. Additional three pieces namely, Moon Represents My Heart (Chinese), Mi Voglio (Italian) and Sa Kabukiran (Tagalog) were arranged by Dr. Ramon Santos for vocal and rondalla.

Special repertoire was prepared for the students of Lize Elementary School, where hundreds of young children attended the concert. The performers rendered lively pieces. The children happily sang along with Stefanie Quintin when she sang Moon Represents my Heart, a very popular Chinese song. Lighter and lively pieces were played in all the performances in Elementary and Junior High Schools. However, heavier pieces were rendered in Universities and formal concert halls.

A very memorable concert was the one held at the Tainan National University of the Arts (TNUA) where the University’s plucked string ensemble had a much applauded joint performance with the Dipolog Community Rondalla: the groups played Bukang Liwayway, a piece composed by Victoriano Pacariem, arranged by Menchie Portento, and conducted by Jay Sarita.

Another similar performance was the participation of the Yilan Sonor Choir in the concert organized at the Yilan Performing Arts Center. Accompanied by the Dipolog Community Rondalla, the choir performed three songs. One piece was conducted by Mr. Sarita, and the two other pieces were conducted by Ms. Chen of the Yilan Sonor Choir.

All the performances were not only opportunities to present the outstanding talents in music of Filipinos and of Taiwan, but moreover, they were avenues of dynamic interaction between the artists and between the two musical cultures: places of collaboration, at the same time spaces where ones musical identity is performed.

Exhibit

With the view of giving a deeper understanding of Philippine rondalla, an exhibition was specially created for the tour and mounted in each nine performance sites (a mobile exhibition system was designed that can easily be set-up and packed). It presented a brief history of Philippine rondalla, and explained the instruments that form part of a rondalla ensemble. The texts of the exhibition were written in both English and Chinese. Rondalla instruments were also displayed and they could be tried by the exhibition visitors.