PARALLEL to the motivational expression of National Artist for Music and founder of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Andrea O. Veneracion, “Just Do It”, the Sing Philippines Youth Choir (SPYC) Tour Group “did it” at the recent Busan Choral Festival and Competition (BCFC) in Busan, South Korea through the support of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Office of the President and the facilitation of the CCP Cultural Exchange Department (CED) and the Andrea O. Veneracion Sing Philippines Foundation (AOVSPF).
Led by Artistic Director and Conductor Mark Anthony Carpio, the SPYC Tour Group won the 2nd Prize and Gold Diploma for the Classical Mixed & Equal Category and Gold Diploma in the Ethnic Category.
Organized by the Philippine Madrigal Singers (MADz), the CCP through its Cultural Exchange Department and the AOVSPF, the SPYC was launched in 2014. To date, the SPYC totals to four (4) batches and 213 singers, from 56 local communities all over the country. The Sing Philippines movement brings to life National Artist Andrea O. Veneracion’s vision of a nation singing in harmony and united in songs.
In 2019, a tour group was organized from batches 1-3 composed of 36 singers who also underwent music camps and outreach concerts, the most recent one held in San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan last July 18-23, 2022. The project was a continuation of the group’s choral training that began in 2019 in Batangas and Bohol but was forced to shift to virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic. The creation of a tour group and their continuous training was envisioned to include international engagements that would showcase and recognize their unique artistry to the global choral and music community through tours and participation in festivals and competitions.
Composed of thirty four singers from all over the country (20 from Luzon, 6 from National Capital Region, 4 from Visayas and 4 from Mindanao), the SPYC performed the following pieces for the Classical Mixed & Equal Category: Fest- und Gedenksprüche, Op.109: II. Wenn ein starker Gewappneter (Johannes Brahms); Draw on, sweet night (John Wilbye); and Jubilate Deo (Saunder Choi). For the Ethnic/Traditional category, they performed Tatlong Awiting Pambata: I. Ang Alibangbang (by Saunder Choi), Dandansoy (arr. by Fidel Calalang), and Three Kalinga Chants (by Nilo Alcala II).
Aside from the competition, the SPYC attended workshops and lectures conducted by two music experts: Bob Chilcot from the UK and Tommyanto Kandisaputra of Indonesia. The SPYC delegation also had the rare chance to witness the superb performance of the famous vocal ensemble from the UK, The Swingles, during the opening concert on October 19 at the Sohyang Theatre. Along with other participating choirs, the SPYC had a special outreach concert at the Busan Station on October 22, 2022 where they sang “Sing Philippines Sing” composed by Ily Mathew Maniano with lyrics by Joey Vargas.
Another source of pride for the Philippines is multi-awarded Philippine composer and former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Ily Mathew Maniano, who bagged the 1st place in the composition competition of the BCFC for his piece entitled “Amihan”. There were four other Philippine choral groups who joined the BCFC and won awards as well: Villanueva Chorale of Misamis Oriental, Imusikapella of Cavite, Balanga Choral Artists, and Bataan Peninsula State University Chorale. Other foreign competitors were groups from South Korea, Indonesia, and Singapore.
“Thank you SPYC for sharing your time and your talents. What made this victory sweeter is coming from a place of love and for the betterment of our output. To Sir Mark. I don’t know what magic you used to make us sound good as a choir considering the limited time we have. We’ll try our best to give our best from all your teachings and taking care of us. So many things happened but we came home as better artists, better choristers and hopefully better persons.”-Efraim Mallari, alto, Cavite/ SPYC batch 3
“Thank you to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the organizing team and staff for all the help and for making sure that we are all safe before, during, and until the last day of our trip… Iba kayo!!!! (you are unique!!!!). To Sir Mark Anthony Carpio, our super humble and brilliant conductor! We love you, thank you for teaching with care and love! We are forever grateful! Lastly, Congratulations to my fellow SPYCs! Thank you for sharing your talents and your ideas when it comes to music! I am so grateful for every one of you, let’s not stop, instead let’s continue inspiring people and improving our skills and ourselves.” -Sarah Yan Roggero, alto, Cebu City/ Batch 2
“To those who have been with us, praying for us, from the bottom of my heart thank you! This was the choir’s first international tour and the first time to join a choral competition. The choir, with 34 singers from all over the country, was formed in 2019, with the goal of helping bring to life National Artist Andrea O. Veneracion’s vision of a nation singing in harmony and united in songs. To the SPYC members, CCP and the Organizing Team, especially to Sir Mark Anthony Carpio, we are really grateful for your presence, patience, friendship and love. We can’t wait to be with you all again soon!”-Liz Cal, soprano, Bohol / Batch 1
“With the little time we had for rehearsals, I am just happy and proud that we still got 2nd prize in the Classical Mixed-Equal category. We are fortunate to be mentored by Sir Mark Carpio who did magical wonders on stage! Glory to God!”-Melody Enero, soprano, Dipolog City/ Batch 3
“After our performance, we rejoiced because we nailed it in spite of everything. Our hearts were full and satisfied as we know we gave our best. We couldn’t had done it without the support and words of encouragement from Mam Chinggay Bernardo and the CCP CED, Mama Odette Galura, Sir Alfie Samonte, Sir Ily Matthew Maniano and of course, Sir Mark Anthony Carpio! Maraming salamat po! Padayon! (Many thanks! Let’s move forward!)” -Crystal Gale Rizon, alto, Iligan City / Batch 3
Despite the geographical distance from each other, SPYC’s patience, hard work and perseverance under Carpio’s exceptional guidance and training since 2019 have indeed paid off. They offer this gratifying triumph to all their families, colleagues, friends, patrons and supporters in the regions and provinces where they come from and most especially to the CCP, CED, MADz and the AOVSPF.