Saturday, September 22, 2007, 7:30 p.m., at the Promenade Hall, Overture Center, when soprano Leslie Damaso (BA-Vocal
Performance, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign), performs some of them; and pianist Anna Maria Manalo
(BM-UW-Madison; MA, Hunter College, NY) with violinist Marvin Suson (BFA, UW-Milwaukee; Master of Music, Performance,
University of Maryland-College Park) go back in time with their strings. Dubbed "An Evening of Philippine Concert Music," this
extraordinary show will also feature tenor Dr. Felipe Manalo. Attendees will, hopefully, discover an appreciation for the Filipino
culture through the kundiman, a musical art form that is now rarely performed as new forms of music have taken over the
airwaves./"I consider music a life vocation," Anna Maria Manalo told Asian Wisconzine in a recent interview. "The choice to work
on the Philippine Classics is natural because this is an appropriate medium to share and express my cultural identity. I am
passionate about my Filipino heritage and I feel that sharing its classical music is the most natural and direct way to
communicate this passion."
Leslie Damaso admitted that her passion for the kundiman emerged only a few years ago. "Having lived in the U.S. for many
years, I felt the need for this type of expression," Damaso said. "I wanted to find the true essence or identity of the Filipino and
through this music, I found that."
When asked who or what influenced them to be musicians/performers, or to get their degrees in music, Manalo said, "I grew
up with music as part of my daily routine, and my parents are responsible for this. It was a natural decision for me to pursue my
(ongoing) music study and discovery."
Damaso had a similar experience. "There's not really one person or one thing that influenced me to be a musician," she
reflected. "Growing up, I was surrounded with music and I was encouraged by my family and many different teachers through
the years. I've always loved music and my drive to learn more about it is also a factor."/Both said that they have faced some
challenges as Filipino-American musicians/artists. "I think Fil-Am concert musicians need better promotion," Manalo said. "And
it would help if they did more collaborative work or included kundiman in their programs."
"My goal is to promote kundiman music to a wider audience," Damaso said, stressing on her commitment to do so. "I
especially would like to reach the younger Filipino generations because I feel it's important to show them a taste of the past to
bring with them into the future."
Manalo said she plans to continue finding a wider audience for this music, including in Canada where she is now based, and
the possibility of a 'homecoming' performance in the Philippines.
The upcoming kundiman concert is a treat for both the performers and the listeners, according to Manalo, and she explained
why. "I have been absolutely lucky to meet and collaborate with really great musicians such as Leslie and Marvin who just
happen to be Filipino also!" Manalo said. "Leslie chose a repertoire of six total 'standards' and less performed vocal works;
likewise Marvin and I have six selections of pretty much standard Philippine classics for violin and piano. I will also be
premiering a kundiman by my great uncle (a composer who was a contemporary of Molina), Julian Celis Balita, with my Dad as
The songs Damaso will perform were arranged chronologically. "(I will start with) what is believed to be the very first kundiman,
'Jocelyn ng Baliwag' (and end with) 'Dahil Sa Iyo,' a more contemporary piece," Damaso explained. "The order of the music also
showcases the various stylistic influences such as the simple folk song, Spanish dances, and Western counterpoint. Through
the years, the meaning of kundiman also changed from a covert patriotic song to just the sentiment of fervent ardor and
passionate longing for a significant other. Kundiman music is just beautiful and being able to share it with a new audience this
fall is very exciting."/Manalo added that she feels it's important for second generation Filipino Americans to set an example for
the next generation, encouraging them to embrace their culture without being completely bound by it. She cited some Filipino
Americans who encourage kids to acquire a "healthy Filipino pride that's from their identity and not from familiarity."
This unique performance is made possible through the efforts of the Wisconsin Women of Color Network, Inc. (WWOCN), to
encourage sharing of diverse cultures among its members and the larger community. Don't miss it.
For information on how to become a Sponsor ($500 up), a Friend or Contributor ($100), or to reserve tickets ($25 ea), contact
Agnes Cammer at (608) 249-8477 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit womenofcolor-wis.org. Tickets are also available at the Overture
Ticket Office; however, seats are limited! Sponsorship funds will allow women and other minorities to attend the concert.
To date, the following are the corporate sponsors:
Alliant Energy Foundation; Madison Gas & Electric; Asian Wisconzine; Drs. Elieser B. and Eufrocina V. Suson, M.D.
Individual contributors are: Marie Barroquillo & Mary Strickland, Agnes G. Cammer, Roland & Joanne Couey, Ronnie & Nanette
Dacumos, Ed & Nieva Escall, Victorio & Herminia Estrera, Arnold Fenix, Jackie Rennhack Frank, Jun & Allen Gonzales, Al
Gutierrez, Ray & Cora Holloway, Maj. Robert & Eloisa Hood, Rose Cammer Jenkins, Dr. Rudolfo Lastrilla, Rufino & Eppie Licos,
Marco & Peach Lopez, Felipe & Monita Manalo, Anita Martin, Renee Moe, Leonardo Molano, Henry & Jo-Ann Moore, Heidi M.
Pascual, Darwin & Lec Rebudiao, Jaime & Beth Reyes, Edgardo & Dr. Jazmin Sandoval, Drs. Juanito & Violeta Singson, Col.
Louis & Sandra Traverzo, Susan Tucker, Winston and Maiden Scholarship, and David & Jean Zimdars.
|Philippine Kundiman Music Concert at Overture
Classic sound of culture
by Heidi M. Pascual
Marvin Suson, Violinist
Anna Maria Manalo,
Considered the Philippines' classical music genre, the kundiman is a
love song and/or a patriotic song that generally expresses lamentation,
longing, a plea, or sorrow. Influenced by the culture of the times and the
temper of the Filipino, the kundiman's purpose was never trivial and
ordinary. During the Spanish colonial regime, the kundiman, "Jocelyn ng
Baliwag" was disguised as an expression of love for a lady from
Bulacan; it was actually an expression of love for the motherland and the
hope of setting her free from the Spanish conquistadores.
The kundiman's beat is triple time, in minor key, and its lyrics are poetic, swaying smoothly with
either a silent note or a mezzo forte. It is usually sung by a highly trained and skilled vocalist,
accompanied by an equally trained and skilled string orchestra, or pianist, violinist, and/or guitarist.
Ordinary vocalists and musicians cannot perform the kundiman. It requires more than just a singing
voice and the ability to pluck some strings. If other nations have their opera, the Philippines has its
kundiman, uniquely its own.
Madisonians will have the opportunity to listen to the Philippines' signature kundiman music and