Keeping music alive: university choir joins virtual competition

MANILA – A Pasig City university choir that finds music as a source of hope took advantage of the international virtual competition to showcase its talent despite the current challenges due to the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (Covid -19).

When the Bandung Choral Society (BCS) in Indonesia announced that the Third World Virtual Choir Festival would be held, the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Chorale decided to give the online competition a chance and follow the rapid pace of technological change.

Anna Abeleda-Piquero, musical director of the UA&P Chorale, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the 3rd BCS Virtual Choir World Festival brought comfort to members of the university’s choir group amid the pandemic.

“The BCS World Virtual Choir competition was born last year in response to the situation caused by Covid-19,” Abeleda-Piquero said in an interview with PNA. “When Covid-19 hit, choirs were no longer allowed to travel, organize concerts, compete or, worse yet, exist. BCS has given the opportunity or the platform for the choirs to continue to share the music of their country even though we still cannot travel through this competition.

The music industry is one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesia-based BCS has launched its third online competition which provides a platform for choir singers to keep them active, creative and connected amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

UA&P Chorale participated in the mixed choir category and performed their interpretation of “Ang Tren” (The Train) composed by Saunder Choi.

“Ang Tren,” based on Jose Corazon de Jesus’ literary play about Filipino commuters, mimics the sounds of a moving train.

“A piece of PH history”

Abeleda-Piquero said the UA&P Chorale chose Choi’s “Ang Tren” because they were confident they would be able to give a moving rendition of the piece of music.

“We chose ‘Ang Tren’ by Saunder Choi, one of the current genius composers in the Philippines, because my students felt they could show more creativity with the text and rhythm elements of the piece than others. parts that we were considering, mentioned.

Abeleda-Piquero added that the piece chosen by the university choir would give its audience an idea about “a piece of Philippine history” since trains in the country were already operating before World War II (WWII) of 1939. to 1945.

“It was very Filipino, depicting the days before WWII when our railroad was very much alive, so perfect not only for competition but also for sharing at the same time, around the world, part of the world. ‘history of the Philippines,’ she said.

It was in 1891 that the first colonial train connecting Manila to Dagupan to Pangasinan began commercial operations, according to a story shared by Philippine National Railways on its official website.

Virtual rehearsals

Since members of the UA&P Chorale couldn’t get together to rehearse for the competition, they had no choice but to resort to online workouts, Abeleda-Piquero said.

“People need to understand that for a lot of singers the choir is not a hobby. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a community, it’s a family. The choristers lamented and struggled to find a way to keep the music alive even if we weren’t allowed to meet face to face, ”she said.

Performing in the comforts of home is an added duty, Abeleda-Piquero admitted, but it paid off as the band were able to produce a “beautiful” music video without defying strict health and quarantine protocols.

With the help of the sound engineer, the audio tracks of the UA&P Chorale singers were synchronized, Abeleda-Piquero said, adding that each singer’s video recordings were also submitted to a videographer for editing.

“This is the process: the conductor first chooses a piece of music and then prepares the audio tracks that the singers can continue to listen to and to synchronize with during its recording. Singers learn the songs, put them on headphones, then record their vocals on another gadget, ”she says. “We were able to produce the video without meeting in person, so in strict compliance with quarantine and health protocols.”

UA&P Chorale’s “Ang Tren” performance is the most watched music video to date with 48,301 views to date.

The clip was uploaded to the official Youtube account of Tommyanto Kandisaputra, President of BCS and Artistic Director of the Third Virtual Choir Competition.

UA&P Chorale is competing against five other participants in the mixed category, including The Unklab Choir, Umvoice and Chorus Rusticarum, UK CÔR CF1 and Gdanks University Choir from Poland.

Viewers can listen to UA&P Chorale’s “Ang Tren” by visiting this link:

Besides UA&P Chorale, the other university choir representing the Philippines for the folklore category is the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) Maestro Singers of Nueva Ecija performing “Manlagsak Takon Amin” by Bienvenido Constantino Jr.

The link to the CLSU Maestro Singers music video is

Stay optimistic

Despite limited movement amid the pandemic, Abeleda-Piquero encouraged his fellow Filipinos to keep a positive mindset and continue to hone their skills.

“We are Filipino. We have faced so many challenges such as earthquakes, floods, storms and droughts in our lifetime, but we always came back alive. We are known for our ability to survive and adapt and smile in the midst of turmoil. Why would we let such a tiny, microscopic virus keep us from being who we are? It’s just about adapting again, ”she said.

Abeleda-Piquero also asked aspiring singers to look for ways to “keep the music alive even if we are not allowed to meet in person”.

“We musicians are musicians forever. We will always find a way for our music to reach you and we show you again that we Filipinos have been one of the best musicians around the world and still are, even in this pandemic. Find a way to be who you are, ”she says. (PNA)

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