Philippine Choral Music

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A "copy-write" essay about Philippine Choral Music.
Sources are found in the last page of the essay.

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Philippine Choral Music

  1. 1. Ricardo Abapo Jr September 17, 2010BM PIANO II Phil. MusicChoral MusicChoral music is a type of composition in the Western music idiom for a group of singers. Called“chorus” or “choir”, from the Greek “choros” and the French ‘choeus,” a choral group may consist ofequal voices (all male or all female) or children’s voices, or mixed voices (male and female voices),which are usually classified into pitch range categories of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. The term “acapella” indicates a chorus or choir performing without instrumental accompaniment.Choral compositions are conceived as single or composite works with a sound texture that is eithermonadic (containing a single melody without accompaniment), homophonic (the melody is in onevoice, with the other voices providing a harmonic and subordinate accompaniment), or polyphonic(having a simultaneous combination of several semi-independent or independent melodic lines). Theconcept of texture founded upon melody and harmony generally applies to tonal music which is basedon a hierarchy of tones and tonal center. In contemporary and avant-garde works using other systemsof organizations, the texture is based not so much on melody and harmony as on the composer’s useof the human voice, the text or other elements as a sound source.Strophic verse forms, like hymns, folk song arrangements, and through-composed songs in severalparts or voices, are examples of single self-contained choral pieces as opposed to composite formwhich include the choral suite, choral cycle, and the mass. The latter is the choral setting of theordinary or sung portions of the main worship service of the Roman Catholic church, namely: “Kyrie,”“Gloria,” “Credo,” “Sanctus,” and ‘Agnus Dei.” The oratorio and cantata are other types of compositeworks. Based on extended text concerning religious subject matter, the music of both types consistsof recitatives, e.g., half-sung, half-spoken parts, solo arias, duets, trios and choruses. Due to theircontemplative nature, the oratorio and cantata, which utilize religious as well as secular texts, areperformed without scenery, costumes, or actions.A Filipino who composed church choir music was Fr Marcelo de San Agustin of Malate, Manila, whotook his vows as an Augustinian lay brother in 1652. Gaspar de San Agustin described him as “anorganist, the most dexterous among the Indio [who was] skillful in playing musical instruments . . .composer and teacher of singers who wrote many books for the service of the choir . . .” (Molina n.d.)Specific works, however, were not mentioned.Some choral compositions were also made by Natalio Mata, Jose Canseco Jr, Marcelo Adonay, ManuelAntonio Mata who was taught by his father, Natalio, all the foregoing obtained training in singing,playing of musical instruments, theory and composition at the Colegio de Ninos Tiples of the ManilaCathedral which was founded in 1972.Natalio Mata and his son, Manuel Antonio, were organists and choir masters of the Quiapo Church.The former wrote Misa a Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Mass for Our Father Jesus of Nazareth), Misa
  2. 2. a San Jose (Mass for Saint Joseph), Gozo (Peace), and Rosario a la Virgen de Montserrat (Rosary forthe Virgin of Montserrat). Manuel Antonio wrote Misa Pastorela (Christmas Mass) and Misa a SanRoque (Mass to Saint Rock) and several “Salves” honoring the Virgin Mary. Jose Canseco Jr,bandmaster and stage director of the first Filipino opera company founded by Ladislao Bonus in 1887,composed “Santa Teresa Doctora Sed Mi Protectora” (Saint Theresa be My Protector), which won agold medal in the 1882 composition contest for the Santa Teresa centennial celebration, while hismentor, Blas Echegoyen, won second prize. Manuel Antonio and Leonardo Silos (1836-1910), a self-taught musician and bandmaster, respectively, earned diplomas for their individual entries called“Plegaria a Santa Teresa” (Prayer for Saint Theresa).Marcelo Adonay at age eight became a choirboy or tiple at the San Agustin Convent in the Intramuros,and at 22, was appointed director of the orchestra at San Agustin Church, a position he held with briefinterruptions until he was 66. His religious compositions were considered by Antonio Molina astowering above those of his contemporaries-like Calahorrad, Caballero, Fondevilla, Reparas –whoseworks tended to be operatic rather than conducive to liturgy and worship. An example of Adonay’srestrained, reverent, yet inspired choral writing is the Misa Regia (Royal Mass), 1903, which was basedon the Royal Mass of the Gregorian Chant by Dumont. His other works include “Responsarium,” 1894,“Lectio,” 1885, ‘Libera Me Domine,” 1877 and 1889, “Te Deum,” 1903, “Gozos” (Praises), 1890 and1925: a mass, 1900, all written for choir and orchestra; and the motets “Ave Maria” and “SalveRegina.”Two devotional hymns with Spanish text familiar to the older generation of Catholics deserve mentionat this point. The first is “Himno al Sagrado Corazon de Jesus” (Hymn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus),popularly known by its first line, “No mas amor que el tuyo” (No Greater Love Than Yours). The textwas written by the poet Manuel Bernabe, and the music composed by Simeon Resurrecion, organistof the Tondo church. The other hymn is a setting of the Hail Mary, the prayer to the Mother of God,which is sung during flores de Mayo processions. It is attributed to violinist and conductor TeresoZapata, who was one of the early faculty members of the University of the Philippines Conservatory ofMusic.Violinist and conductor Bonifacio Abdon is probably the first Filipino to compose a mass in thevernacular, antedating by about 50 years the changes introduced by Vatican Council II. The workMisang Tagalog sa Balintawak (Tagalog Mass in Balintawak), ca 1910, was written at the request ofthe Aglipayan church. He also wrote a cantata, “O Dios sa Kalangitan” (Oh God in Heaven), based onold melodies used in the Tagalog pasyon. Abdon is better known for his composition “Kundiman,”1920, which was introduced to the public as a multivoiced choral piece in a concert of the AsocacionMusical de Filipinas in the same year. The text written by Patricio Mariano, evokes patrioticsentiments as it expresses a longing for freedom for one’s country.More nationalistic compositions are mentioned in the June 1911 issue of the Cultura Filipina whichlists 68 “piezas musicales” (musical pieces) composed between 1899 and 1910, and dedicated to JoseRizal or based on his literary works. Of these, 55 are entered as himnos or hymns composed bymusicians like Jose Estella, Francisco Buencamino sr, Alejo Carluen, Simplicio solis, and Antonio
  3. 3. Escanilla. Only one himno, “Gloria a Rizal” (Glory to Rizal), 1931, with text by Tomas Tirona and musicby Juan Borromeo of Cebu, is specifically described as written for four voices.The most significant secular hymn of this period was Julian Felipe’s march for piano entitled “MarchaNacional Magdalo” (Philippine National Magdalo March). It was composed in June 1988 and played bythe San Francisco de Malabon Band (now the General Trias Band) during the proclamation ofPhilippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite on June 12 1898 as the Philippine flag was raised. TheSpanish text was written by Jose Palma in 1899; the English version by Camilo Osias, and the Tagalogversions by Ildefonso Santos and Cirio Panganiban, the current Tagalog text of “Pambansang Awit ngPilipinas’ (Philippine National Anthem) was issued by the Institute of National Language headed byJose Panganiban in 1957.The foregoing examples –several masses in Latin with orchestral accompaniment, a religious cantataand mass in the vernacular, a choral kundiman, religious and patriotic hymns with Spanish text –offera representative profile of the state of choral writing towards the end of the 19th and the first fewdecades of th 20th centuries of the Philippines.The initial repertory was considerably enlarged in succeeding years by generations of composerstrained in local and foreign conservatories. Philippine choral literature in the 1950s, many of themmasses, sprang mostly, from creative talents of the early graduates of the University of the Philippines(UP) Conservatory of Music. These include Nicanor Abelardo’s Requiem Mass in memory of MarceloAdonay; Rodolfo Cornejo’s Mass in F minor, 1936, and Mass in C, 1942; and Lucio San Pedro’s MisaSan Clemente Nos 1, 1931 and 2 1942. European-schooled Ramon Tapales composed the Misa in StileAntico, 1956, while Alfredo Buenaventura, a graduate of Centro Escolar University, composed theMisa Gloria, 1954, and Mass in D minor, 1988. Cantata compositions include Antonio Molina’s TheLiving Word: A Christmas Cantata, 1936; Rodolfo Cornejo’s Miracles of Christ for solo voice, mixedchoir, narrator, and orchestra, 1947; and Lucio San Pedro’s Easter Cantata for women’s voice, 1950.Jose Rizal’s prize-winning poem “A la Juventud Filipina” (To the Filipino Youth) inspired thecomposition (and was used as text) of Rodolfo Cornejo’s secular cantata, A la Juventud Filipina, 1934,and Hilarion Rubio’s To The Filipino Youth, 1951, with translation by Fernando Guerrero. AntonioMolina, who wrote Christmas carols based on folk songs in 1921, considers Francisco Santiago’s“Sumilang na ang Manunubos” (The Savior is Born), 1932, as the first Philippine Christmas carolwritten for mixed choir and orchestra. Molina also pioneered in the writing of a choral cycle usingFilipino folk songs, as in his First Choral Cycle, 1933.Two publications of choral works came out in the 1950s. The first was the 1950 edition of thePhilippine Progressive Music Series, compiled by Norberto Romualdez and others, and printed bySilver Burdett and Company. It included sections from the Philippine National Chorus Collection, thefirst published collection of Philippine choral literature, edited by Francisco Santiago and copyrightedin 1930. Among the choral pieces are four-part patriotic hymns like “National Heroes Day,” “Pilipinas”(Philippines), and “Inang Bayan” (Motherland) by Abelardo, and “Pilipinas Kong Mahal” (My BelovedPhilippines) by Santiago, and simple arrangements of folk songs and kundiman by Abdon, Hernandez,and Santiago. The other publication, Philippine Choruses for all Occasions, was compiled and
  4. 4. copyrighted by Corazon Maceda and Crispina Garcia, and intended for school use. Almost half of thebook consists of choral arrangements of folks ongs and a patriotic “Kundiman” by Hernandez. Thecelebrated Philippine Christmas Carol “Payapang Daigdig” (Peaceful World), 1947, by Felipe Padilla deLeon, and “Rizal’s Valedictory Poem,” 1953, by Lucio San Pedro are included.Taking the lead from Molina’s First Choral Cycle, Lucrecia Kasilag, Lucio San Pedro, Jerry Dadap, andEliseo Pajaro each contributed significant works to this genre. Kasilag’s Four Philippine Folk Songs,1955, is written for women’s voices; San Pedro’s Tulang Pangkalikasan (Poetry for Nature), 1971, anda choral setting of his Suite Pastorale, 1974, were performed by the UP Concert Chorus. Except for theone movement “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” (As the Hammock Sways) in the latter work, the text for SuitePastorale was written by the composer. Jerry Dadap’s Choral Cycle Nos 1, 1964, and 2, 1966, both formixed choir, combined the native elements of folk songs and the rondalla. Eliseo Pajaro wrote severalchoral cycles from 1956 to 1968: Himig Pilipino No 1 and Himig Iloko No 4 are for a capella mixedchorus; Himig Iloko No 2 is for male chorus, while Himig Iloko No 3 is for female or mixed chorus.Pajaro’s Philippine Symphony No 2, 1953, is also scored for mixed chorus, woodwinds, brass, andpercussions. He also published two volumes of original choruses, a total of 55, for elementary andsecondary schools in 1972 and 1973, respectively.One of the major changes brought about by the Vatican Council II was the introduction of thevernacular into the Catholic liturgy. Consequently, a need for writers of religious songs in thevernacular had to be filled. The songs sung in Catholic churches today were written by Lucio SanPedro, Tina Benitez, Manuel Francisco SJ, Fruto Ll. Ramirez SJ, Eduardo Hontiveros SJ, Dorm Benildus(Manuel) Maramba OSB, Fr Bong Panganiban, Fr Floro Bautista, Monsignor Rudy Villanueva, Pia delRosario RGS; Narcisa Fernandez, Nilo Mangusad and others.At the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (AILM), the use of Asian music and various indigenousmusical forms and materials in liturgy and worship is very much explored, and students who camefrom various parts of Asia are encouraged to compose according to their musical traditions.The League of Filipino Composers and the Music Promotion Foundation of the Philippines (MPFP),created in 1955 and 1956, respectively, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), inauguratedin 1969, have provided impetus for the writing of major choral works. The only two oratorios inPhilippine choral literature are commissioned works. These are Ang Pagtutubos (The Salvation), 1967,by Rosalina Abejo RVM, and The Redeemer, 1990, by Lucio San Pedro. Other commissioned works areAng Batingaw (The Bell), a choral symphony, and Misa Antoniana, by Antonio Molina, both in 1964;Transfiguration, 1983, by Francisco Feliciano; Transfiguration II, 1987, by Dom Benildus OSB;Panalangin (Prayer), 1980, by Ruben Federizon; and Bad-aw sa Kapoon-an (Bad-w to the Divinities) byRamon Santos, and Dalampasigan (Seashore), a secular cantata by Lucio San Pedro, both in 1975.A potent force in the development of the Philippine choral literature is the formation of active choralgroups, foremost of which are the UP Concert Chorus (mixed chorus), the UP Cherubin and Seraphim(children’s chorus), and the UP Madrigal Singers (an a capella chorus). The institution of the NationalMusic Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA), whose contest pieces for the different choral
  5. 5. categories have been newly commissioned, further created the demand for short vocal works towhich Filipino composers have responded enthusiastically.As the Philippine Madrigal Singers anticipates its 30th year in 1993, the list of original works in theirrepertoire continues to grow. The following are but a few examples: “Ding-ding nga Diyawa” (Beatthe Gongs), “Tula-tula” (Poetica), and “Tinig” (Voices) by Ramon Santos; “Basahanan” and ‘Agnus Dei”by Fabian Obispo: “Himig Pampango” (Pampango Airs) and “Walay Angay” (Not suited) by EmmanuelLaureleola; “Himig Iloko No.5, No 2” and “Dalampasigan” (Seashore) and “Sa ugoy ng Duyan” by LucioSan Pedro; “Noche Oscura” (Dark Night), “Tsismis” (Gossip) and “Aba Po, Santa Mariang Reyna” (HailHoly Mary the Queen) by Ryan Cayabyab; “Pokpok Alimpako” and Transfiguration by FranciscanoFeliciano; and ‘Gabaq-an” and “Tinig ng Lupa” (Voice of the Earth) by Ruben Federizon EudinicePalaruan and Robert Delgado are the Madrigal’s latest composer/arrangers of music.With the outstanding existence of choral groups, Filipino composers are encouraged to contributeoriginal choral works. The choral compositions of Lucrecia Kasilag, Lucio San Pedro, Ramon Santos,Ruben Federizon, Jerry Dadap, Antonino Regalario, Alfredo Buenaventura, Antonino Buenaventura,Rodolfo de Leon, and Phoebe Roa have been performed by the UP Cherubim and Seraphim, which isnow on its 20th year. The same compositions are included in the 11 published collections by NAMCYA–seven for children’s, youth and college choir, two containing repertoire written for the UP Cherubimand Seraphim. The UP Concert Chorus likewise published choral works by Lucio San Pedro in 1972.Choral writing by Filipinos towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries focused onreligious works with Latin and Spanish text and patriotic hymns with Spanish lyrics.The growth and direction of Philippine choral literature in the hands of conservatory-trainedcomposers were influenced by the following: study and exposure to major forms of Western choralmusic; use folk songs and thematic material; the commissioning works by the LFC, MPFP, CCP, andother organizations; introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy and the trend to foster the nationallanguage; the demand for specific genres by the country’s leading choral groups; and thecommissioning of contest pieces for all the NAMCYA. All these have helped produce choral literaturewith a Filipino identity in traditional and contemporary styles.Sources:M.D. BorromeoReferences: Banas 1970; Deomilas 1953; Guevarra 1970; Hernandez (unpublished); Kasilag (ed) 1989;Maceda 1953; Manuel 1955, 1970; Molina n.d.; NAMCYA Cherubim-Seraphim Series; NAMCYAMadrigal Series: NAMCYA Series for Youth Children’s and Adult Choir; Randel 1986; Romualdez 1950;Consultations with: Dom Benildus OSB, Ruben Hilario, Elena Rivera-Mirano, Flora Zarco-Rivera, LucioSan Pedro, Ramon Santos, Andrea Veneracion.

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