Album Production

16 11 2006

Music at the Service of God and People

Music articulates the prayers of many people. And the songs and musical genres services people from all walks of life. Each album that JMM produces leads people to pray, and inspires others to deepen their faith in the Lord. The albums produced here answers the needs of many. From liturgical music for mass, to inspirational songs for upliftment, to instrumental music for meditation and quiet, these albums hopefully help people become closer to God.

From June 2004-2005, the Jesuit Music Ministry continued to produce albums. Hangad came up with The Easter Journey, a collection of 23 Lenten and Easter songs in various musical styles. Accompanying this album is a songbook containing the music scores of the songs in the Easter Journey album. Jay Gomez on the flute and Bong Rosario on the guitar, they returned with a Christmas album, Vespers 4: The Work of Christmas, which invites people to celebrate the Christ Child who became one like us. Shortly after Vespers 4, Fr. Arnel dC. Aquino, produced his Lauds 7: Take My Hands album in the genre of Lauds 3, a meditative piano music of songs of the past, that marked our childhood faith. In collaboration with Koro Viannista from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City, JMM produced its first album in Visayan to help the Church in the South, Himayà Kanimo (Praise to You). It featured classical Visayan liturgical pieces such as Fr. Rudy Villanueva and Narcisa Fernandez. Himig Heswita collaborated with them in songs like “Way Sukod ang Pagmahal” (Love without Measure) composed by Fr. Rudy Villanueva. Uplifting melodies that characterize the pastoral scenery of the south such as Narcisa Fernandez’s Huni sa Kinabuhi, gives the album its unique cultural flavor. And finally, BukasPalad produced its latest album, God of Silence, containing songs about God’s faithful love.

In 2006, JMM produced, Believe, a compilation of songs from different albums which merit artistic attention. Himig Heswita produced a healing album taken from a concert repertoire intended for the sick. The album, Stand By Me Still, has been launched at the Church of the Gesu, and was highly received. Recently, two albums were released. A CD sampler of JMM series, Humayo’t Ihayag, containing the most popular songs of BukasPalad, Hangad, Himig Heswita, Vespers, Lauds and Matins. A Wish For Christmas is the most interesting album. It is actually a Christmas card with a CD of three Hangad Christmas songs. Raymond’s Lullaby is haunting: it tells the story of Raymond, afflicted with autism, who has to be brought to the provinces on Christmas because he is very sensitive to noise. Raymond’s Lullaby is composed by Marchan, a volunteer of L’Arche Philippines, an NGO who cares for autistic children. Hopefully, another album will be released before the end of the Christmas season, Vespers 5, a collection of celebratory melodies for meditation in flute and guitar.

Himig Heswita and the Jesuit Music Ministry

13 11 2006

Himig Heswita is almost as old as the Society of Jesus.

As Fr. Catalino Arevalo writes, in his foreword to the album Far Greater Love:

If we read through the history of Jesuit missionary work, even just the magnificent pages in Father (Horacio) de la Costa’s The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581 – 1768, we will see what a significant role music played in the work of evangelization … Already in the first Jesuit centuries, “Jesuit music” made its mark: from the beginnings we have Jesuit contributions to baroque music played in Jesuit churches and taught and sung in Jesuit colleges. We all saw the movie The Mission and were moved by the Indian boys singing its music. The Paraguay reductions wrote a glorious chapter in Jesuit music… As has been well said, the arts – not least of them music – have always been part of the Jesuit “way of proceeding”.

Such is the tradition from which Himig Heswita springs. It is a tradition that aims to make use of all things, music included to praise, reverence and serve the Creator. It is a tradition that seeks to lead people back to God – by the “gate of beauty”, if necessary. And so we have generations upon generations of Filipino Catholics reared by the songs they learned while studying at their Jesuit schools. Song in Latin and Spanish at first, and then, in the wake of Vatican II, songs in English composed by young Jesuits from St. Louis, Missouri.

The turning point came in the year 1965, when Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros, SJ (lovingly called Fr. Honti) composed a Filipino Mass while serving Rector of San Jose Seminary. Answering the call for inculturation, Fr. Honti began composing songs in the Filipino idiom. A torrent of compositions would follow throughout the 70’s, resulting in what could arguably be called “classics” of Filipino Liturgical Music: “Ama Namin (Our Father)”, “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri (Magnificat)” and “Pananagutan”.

Fr. Honti’s example would animate and inspire local composers and music ministries, and of course, his fellow Jesuits. 1981 saw the release of HIMIG HESWITA, an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines. Working with Fr. Honti on this album were “second-generation” Jesuit composers such as Frs. Nemy Que, Fruto Ramirez, and Danny Isidro.

This drive to give voice to the Filipino soul would continue to spread. Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ began his carrer as liturgical composer when he was fourteen years old, a freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University High School. Collaborating with his classmates and his teacher, Mr. Onofre Pagsanghan, Manoling would produce “Mariang Ina ko” and “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” Later on, Manoling would compose with his friends Jandi Arboleda and Norman Agatep, laying the foundations of what would become the Bukas Palad Music Ministry. Other Jesuit composers were at work as well.

Fr. Charlie Cenzon, SJ, composed “Awit Ng Paghahangad”, which was heard on a PLDT commercial and became an anthem for Jesuit volunteers (JVP).

Fr. Jboy Gonzales, SJ composed “Panunumpa” which would later become a part of the sound track film “Tanging Yaman” popularized by Carol Banawa.

Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ wrote “Pagsibol” and “Ito Ang Araw” while at Sacred Heart Novitiate, and began another tradition of Jesuit Music for Meditation with the LAUDS series.

1n 1994 these younger Jesuit composers came together to produce HIMIG HESWITA 2. This album was not really a sequel to the first HIMIG HESWITA, but a development, a new stage of growth. HIMIG HESWITA 2 featured Frs. Arnel, Manoling, Nemy, and brought together the choir that would include such voices as Frs. JunJun Borres, Chris Dumadag, RB Hizon and Peter Pojol. With HIMIG HESWITA 2, the core group of HIMIG HESWITA was formed. Joining them were lay friends — among them Oggie Benipayo, Rey Malipot and Veepee Pinpin— who would add their talent to Himig Heswita.

The Catholic renewal that spread over the country with World Youth Day in 1995 led to two important developments: first, the consolidation of Himig Heswita as a stable singing group; and second the collaboration with instrumentalists who would come to be known as the Musician Friends of the Jesuits. These concert musicians would bring a different flavor to Himig Heswita, making liturgies and performances even more meaningful.

Occasionally, Himig Heswita would also perform with other groups in the Jesuit Music Ministry. Several concerts with Bukas Palad and Hangad have been produced in the last twelve years, and members are these groups as well as Tinig Barangka, Barangka Choir, Keynotes Chorale, Ateneo College Ministry Group, and Srs. Bubbles Bandojo and Susay Valdez of the Religious of the Cenacle, regularly added their voices to Himig Heswita for recordings, concerts and liturgical celebrations. Himig Heswita and Friends have made their presence felt all over the Philippines, from Naga to Cagayan de Oro, and the music has spread beyond the boundaries of the Philippines as well.

HIMIG HESWITA has produced numerous albums and participated in a number of recordings for the Jesuit Music Ministry. Since Himig Heswita 2 there have been five full albums: The Best of Himig Heswita, Purihi’t Pasalamatan, Your Dwelling Place, O Bayan ng Diyos, and Stand By Me Still. Himig Heswita and Friends has also been part of many anthologies, such as Alay Kapwa, Far Greater Love, Something More, Believe and Humayo’t Ihayag.

Himig Heswita has participated in the ministry of healing. Smaller more intimate concerts have been held for the benefit of those suffering from acute ailments . Your Dwelling Place is in fact a recording of one of these concerts. Himig Heswita has also done its part in developing local music ministries, through the many workshops on liturgical music given by Frs. Manoling, Jboy and Arnel.

Looking back, we see that the spirit that fueled Himig Heswita has spread to other groups as well. Fr. Honti’s work of music thrives with the choirs he helped established in Pansol and Barangka. Lay ministries such as BukasPalad and Hangad reach farther and farther, inspiring more and more laity to take an active part in their Church. The tradition of music for meditation begun in piano (Lauds) has spawned interpretations in guitar and flute Vespers) and in chamber music (Matins). There has also been a strong effort to inculturate the Chinese- Filipino community with Jesuit songs translated into Mandarin (Songs for Worship). And the ministry — the mission– continues.

We celebrate the wealth of tradition that comes from the Society of Jesus. We celebrate the gifts of talent and creativity that spurred Fr. Honti and other Jesuits to give their people a voice with which to sing. We celebrate the work of the Spirit that has made these ministries grow wonderfully, beyond our wildest imaginings. But most of all we celebrate that that Love without which we would have no reason to pray or sing.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Prayers Wrapped in Songs

2 11 2006

“Jesuit hymns are prayers wrapped in music. They are songs in search of souls”.
Fr. Johnny C. Go, SJ

When Fr. Eddie Hontiveros wrote his first liturgical hymn in the 60′s, all he wanted to do was to come up with a song that people could easily learn and sing at worship. He had no idea that in writing that first song and in teaching it to a group of young boys and girls in Barangka, Marikina, he was actually starting a whole tradition of religious and liturgical music in the country — which would later come to be known simply as “Jesuit Music.” Today, thirty years after Father Honti’s first composition, his songs–as well as those of other Jesuit musicians that he has inspired–are sung in churches all over the country, as well as in other parts of the world, wherever Filipinos gather in worship and prayer.

Jesuit hymns are prayers wrapped in music. They are songs in search of souls. Anyone who has heard them and prayed with them knows what this means. For Jesuit songs have a way of inviting you to dive deep into your heart to seek your soul–truly a practical and valuable habit in a world where we all tend to scatter and lose ourselves.

Jesuit Music Ministry is very much Father Honti’s offspring. In 1990, he suffered a serious stroke that impaired not only his speech, but also his ability to write music. Be that as it may, Father Honti continues to make music through his now-immortal hymns, but also through the many beautiful songs that the Jesuit Music Ministry continues to create for God and the Filipino music.

Jesuit Music: A Grand Background in Jesuit History

2 11 2006

Jesuit Music: A grand background in Jesuit history
Fr. Catalino G. Arevalo, SJ

If we read through the history of Jesuit missionary work, even just the magnificent pages in Father de la Costa’s Jesuits in the Philippines (1581-1768), we will see what significant role music played in the work of evangelization. The Jesuits from the beginning realized that “God is more often reached by the people through the gate of beauty than by the gate of truth,” and that thus the arts are truly privileged pathways and doorways to the infinite.

Already in the first Jesuit centuries “Jesuit music” made its mark: from the beginnings we have Jesuit contributions to baroque music played in Jesuit churches and taught and sung in Jesuit colleges. We all saw the film The Mission, and were moved by the Indian boys singing its music. The Paraguay Reductions wrote a glorious chapter in Jesuit music: Dominic Zipoli, Italian, and Martin Schmid, Swiss, and other Jesuit missionaries created an entire culture of music among the Indians; 5000 manuscript pages of sacred music used by the Indians in the “Jesuit territories” were found in Bolivia in our time. As has been well said, the arts–not the least of them, music–have always been part of the Jesuit “way of proceeding.”

The Jesuit Music Ministry, one of the most recently- begun official works of the Philippine Province, thus has a grand background in Jesuit history. Although we have had Filipino Jesuits within living memory like Fr. Jose Ma. Siguion and Juan Trinidad, who were musicians of distinction, it is Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros who can be truly named “Father of Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) in our time, and his work will live on in JMM, we hope and pray, for years and decades to come.

The response to the work to disseminate contemporary sacred music, much of it of Filipino Jesuit authorship, in recent years, has already shown that it meets a great present need. Recordings and concerts of JMM have been enthusiastically welcomed everywhere where Filipinos worship and live and work. JMM meets a truly Filipino need and appeals to the Filipino heart and soul. JMM’s present success is already visibly a sign of God’s blessing and an encouragement for Filipino Jesuits to go forward in this area of pastoral and missionary endeavor.

JMM has placed on the map Jesus and his Gospel, Mary and the call to holiness, evangelizing work among the “little ones” and the poor in our beloved land and wherever else in the world where Filipinos live and gather. We pray that JMM may continue to flourish, and continue to receive God’s gracious help, so that through music, many more may be led throughout the pathways and gateways of beauty, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.


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