UPSA Records at JMM

23 11 2006

Internationally acclaimed chorale group from the University of the Philippines, the UP Singing Ambassadors records new songs at the Jesuit Music Ministry. Pictured here are Ms. Jett Galindo of the Ateneo Chamber Singers, sound engineer (with Robbie Grande who is not in the picture) and Mr. Ed Manguiat, UPSA conductor, winner of the Dirigentenpreis (Conductor’s Award) at the 2nd Johann Brahm’s International Choir Competition in Germany. The UP Singing Ambassadors is the only Filipino choir to win the grand prize of the Concorso Polifonico “Guido de Arrezzo” competition — considered the ‘Olympics’ of choir competitions.

New Vespers 5 Album soon to be released

23 11 2006

New Vespers 5 album soon to be released. Jay Gomez, Willan Caimol and I on its final stages. Pictures of the recording and mixing… and sleeping.

Raymond Sajor of Philippine Idol visits JMM

22 11 2006

Reymond Sajor of Philippine Idol, who sang incredibly and excellently well especially Martin Nievera’s “Be My Lady” and “Hindi Magbabago” visited JMM last Tuesday, 21 November 2006. He came with Oliver Oliveros, publicist, and Cynthia Sanchez, who does our orchestral pieces for concerts.

Himig Heswita on US tour

17 11 2006

New York and New Jersey

Himig Heswita and friends has created inspiring music for our people. Last October 2006, Himig Heswita went to New York and New Jersey for a series of concerts, supported by the Ateneo Alumni Northeast, Inc.

Their concert were at:

St. Malachy’s Church (October 14)

Our Lady of Angelus (October 15)

St. Elizabeth of Hungary (October 19)

St. Francis Xavier (October 20) and

St. Anne’s Parish (October 21).

Office Renovation and the Music Library

17 11 2006

Functional and Productive Space

Renovating the small Jesuit Music Ministry office was not just a matter of lugging office equipment into a room that formerly looked like a nursery with white wallpaper and cabinets with blue, red, and yellow paint. The cabinets were huge and hardly lend efficiency to the office space.

So shortly after finding the office too cramped, we decided to actively do something about it. The small space should be designed efficiently, considering power supply for laser printers, two new computers for the digital music library and recording, clavinova, the component, the telefax machines and Jerome’s work area. Lighting had to be considered.

There should be a relaxing space for receiving friends, musicians, and guests. So we decided to paint it avocado green, design overhead cabinets in natural wood finish and working tables with recessed monitors to get a clean look.

We tried have an office that does not resemble obstacle courses. We got rid of unnecessary furniture and clutter. All these so that we will be able to work productively and enjoyably. The last word was greatly considered: with the stress involved, at least the office space gives you reason to stay happy. Compartments for composers had been designated for their use, with built-in shelving that boosts productivity.

And finally we placed some eye candy with well-located paintings and some photos that added a visual punch to the office design and made the room more an appealing space to work in. Thus, JMM has become a functional work space and a pleasant, productive place to work.

Promotions at JMM

16 11 2006

Promotions is Opening Opportunities for a Meaningful Faith in God

I have always viewed promotions not just a marketing device for our albums and products, but providing opportunities for others to get to hear our songs and perhaps through our songs, their life of faith becomes deeper.

St. Paul said that the love and mercy of God is mediated through people, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit who gives rebirth and renewal. When we have concerts and choir services, we notice people who are moved to tears. We know that we have lent our voices to a particular song, but it is God who touches their hearts.

When albums are released, launches are organized. Fr. Arnel Aquino SJ and Himig Heswita gives a simple, prayer concert for Lauds 7 at the Cardinal Sin Center, Loyola School of Theology; a bigger prayer concert for Stand By Me Still in Cebu, Manila and a US Tour. Jay Gomez and Bong Rosario provides soothing flute and guitar renditions for Vespers. Hangad and Bukaspalad organizes school and church concerts. Recently, both of them went to the US for a series of concerts promoting Easter Journey (Hangad) and God of Silence (BukasPalad). Both have been invited to parish concert fund-raisers or album promotions.

Last year, all artists of JMM came together for a Christmas concert at Sto. Nino de Padua chapel in Greenbelt: Himig Heswita, Canto Cinco, Jay Gomez & Bong Rosario, Noel Cabangon, Hangad and BukasPalad. Small renditions were done at Gateway Mall in Cubao.

Last October, Hangad had a concert to celebrate 15 years and to promote their Christmas card with CD, A Wish for Christmas, at the Greenbelt Chapel, Makati City. This year, a series of concerts for Christmas celebrates the season. Here is the schedule:

December 1, Hangad, SM Megamall, Activity Center, Friday, 7:30 PM.

December 15, JMM’s All-Stars (BukasPalad, Hangad, Noel Cabangon, Jay Gomez & Bong Rosario, Canto Cinco, and Himig Heswita), Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Friday, 7:30 PM.

December 22, BukasPalad, SM Megamall, Activity Center, Friday, 7:30 PM.


Friday, November 17, 7:30 PM: Jazzfest for US Embassy, Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

Saturday, November 18, 6:30 PM: Polo Bethlehem Club, Valenzuela Auditorium

Saturday, December 9, 7:00 PM: Fr. Mimo Prayer Concert, UP Diliman.

Sunday, December 17, 7:30 PM: Mary Mother of the Church Parish, Las Pinas.

Wednesday, December 20, 6:30 PM: Christmas Concert at The Peninsula Manila, Makati City.


Saturday, November 25, 7:00 PM: Aming Simbahan, Ating Tahanan, St. Joseph Parish, Carmona, Cavite

Saturday, December 2: Culion, Palawan

Saturday, December 9: Season of Praise, Pentecost Parish, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Saturday, December 16, 6:00 PM: Glorietta 2, to be aired on IBC 13

Sunday, December 17, 7:00 PM: Concert and Mass at the Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University.

Thursday, December 21, 6:30 PM: Christmas Concert at The Peninsula Manila, Makati City.

*Hangad concert in Greenbelt; Vespers launch at the Church of the Gesu; Noel Cabangon on location for his MTV; Hangad on stage; BukasPalad pictorial.

Focus on Training

16 11 2006

Developing talent is empowerment. Sharing one’s skills is giving hope.

My experience of giving Liturgical Music Seminars and Workshops in different parishes exposed me to the various needs of parish choirs, especially poor churches who do not have access to resources. These choirs articulated their need through survey forms. A bulk of these surveys have been gathered in a grand choir workshop at the Ateneo de Manila University High School, organized by BukasPalad in July 2004.

Choirs said that they have problems choosing songs. What songs to use for particular masses? What is appropriate for each part of the mass? They also have questions about the delineation of tasks. What are the roles and responsibilities of church musicians? They said that they lack vocal skills, so they asked, “How does one sing well?” Moreover, the choir is not just a ministry, it is also an organization. What is the ideal organization of a choir in a parish? Furthermore, a large number had problems dealing with the parish priest, people in charge of parish worship or problems within the organization. How do they dialogue with their parish priest who may or may not know the liturgical norms for music? How do they deal with personal problems among choir members that are affecting the ministry and the choir itself?

These questions led me to form a choir that is particularly intended to pass on skills they learn at the Jesuit Music Ministry. The idea is to form a core choir of choral leaders to be trained by a professional coach so that they will in turn pass on the skills and know-how to their particular choirs. Thus, they are not to abandon their choirs. Moreover, if this choir has to articulate the faith of the masses, they should come from the masses. A composer once told to compose songs with social relevance and a sound that could capture the heart of the masses casually remarked, “How could I? I grew up listening to the classics!”

Canto Cinco or C5 has been organized for this purpose. They have recorded a training CD with vocal exercises, taken from the vocal class they attended. This CD is not for sale and is given to the choirs who attend the Liturgical Music Seminar. They in turn help give vocal workshops to choirs who need them. They primarily accompany me give the Liturgical Music Seminar while they take turns explaining the parts of the body used in singing, and then give exercises to develop each part. Though canto is song in Italian, it also puns on their primary apostolate: to go the masses, to the kanto (sidestreets). Cinco verbalizes the five core values that a choir must have: Christ-centeredness, creativity (choirs can compose their own songs), competency (they should be good singers in order to lead people to sing well), community, and commitment.

It is also undeniable that forming this choir makes my work a little bit easy. The demands are great, but the availability of people who can give them is dim. Besides, the church has recognized that the Holy Spirit works with the laity.

Furthermore, training is effective for people who has the talent, but does not have the resources to develop them. A remark from a meeting jolted me, “talent is innate.” It is indeed true, but when left with a given — you see a Jesuit here with a good voice, but does not possess the great talent of a Beethoven, the next best thing is training. Training tells another that whatever gift he or she has — even if it is as small as a mustard seed — and gives his or her all through practice will produce fruits greater than a genius who sleeps all day. Or, wait for a genius to apply and be accepted. The remark, ‘talent is innate’ is to close the door to many of us. Training empowers. It should therefore be available to all, and not just to a particular and singular group given favor in history.

*Liturgical Music Seminars in Pampanga and Tayuman with C5