Abelardo family at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. From left, Olivia Hine, Kacy Kox, Nina Abelardo, Sonny Abelardo, Andrea Sixta Abelardo Hannum, and Maria and Dido Salgado.  (Filipino Reporter photo)

Special to the Filipino Reporter

The premiere of the Great Filipino Composer Series featuring the works of Nicanor Abelardo was very well done!

The music series opened on June 22 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City in celebration of Philippine independence.

It was an evening of celebrating music, history and country.

Bravo to Rogelio Penaverde, Jr., artistic director; Benjamin Dia, music director; and the production staff!

It was also a special thrill to meet up with Sonny Abelardo, grandson of Nicanor Abelardo, and family who travelled from Florida and Andrea Sixta Abelardo Hannum, granddaughter of Abelardo and family from Maryland, to attend the concert.  

The program of the evening was a journey through Philippine history of sorts through the music of Abelardo — celebrating love of family, the beloved, unrequited love, and love of country — a wonderful way to commemorate the Philippines!

The concert began in a quaint charming and endearingly romantic tone with Abelardos Himutok and Nasaan Ang Aking Puso? performed by Jerry Dadap, Jr. on guitar.

Reminiscent of serenading suitors — it was delightfully very Filipino.

Mutya ng Pagig sung by Katrina Saporsantos was especially wonderful.

This mystical operatic piece about the Lady of the River, the Muse of Pasig, was compelling and delightful, magical and flawless.

(We need to present the entire opera in New York!)

This writer cannot resist Abelardo’s music to “suffering for love” and “heart’s tears” in Kundiman Ng. Luha, performed by Rogelio Penaverde, Jr., as well as Ikaw Rin, with Joy Tamayo and Penaverde.

The music and lyrics of love simply pulls at the heart!

The evening ended with Ultimo Adios, Abelardo’s music to Jose Rizal’s last farewell.

It was an emotional tribute to the Philippine National Hero.

The soloists performed holding small cards and slips of paper, depicting the slips of paper which Rizal wrote his goodbye message in his prison cell to family and country, including the words, “Farewell to all I love — to die is to rest.”

The Filipino Composer Series with Nicanor Abelardo’s music was a wonderful beginning.  

This writer looks forward to more programming featuring the best of Filipino composers.  

With sentimental optimism, the evening ended leaving the audience with appreciation and pride of the music by a most noted Filipino composer and wanting more!

“I die as I see tints on the sky begin to show...” — Jose Rizal.

The Abelardo pieces reflective of the Spanish and American influences, as well as the best Filipino works featuring versatile artists Alex Drilon, tenor; Benjamin Dia, piano; William Oh, violin; Clement Acevedo, piano; Katrina Saporsantos, soprano; Enrico Lagasca, bass baritone; Joy Tamayo, soprano; Rogelio Penaverde, Jr., tenor; and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York, Philippine-American Choral Project and String Ensemble.

Executive producers of the Filipino Composer Series were Dr. Jeanne Damian, Rogelio Penaverde, Jr., Jose Ramos and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York.

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