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An orchestra to bridge generations

THE MANILA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA under the direction of Maestro Marlon Chen.

FAST approaching its centennial, the 97-year-old Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has decided to gear up for a campaign that promotes orchestral music in the Philippines, in the form of gala concerts and tours across the country.

While the MSO is known as one of Asia’s oldest orchestras, founded in 1926 by Alexander Lippay, it will continue to remain one of the most active, according to its musical director, Marlon Chen.

“This isn’t just a celebration of longevity. It’s a commitment to a legacy that belongs to every Filipino — a symphony for the people,” he said at a press conference on Feb. 28 in Circuit, Makati. “We carry this torch with joy, pride, and dedication.”

To lead up to the orchestra’s 100th year in 2026, the “Road to 100” campaign will include various concerts and events for Filipinos both young and old, in the cities and in the province.

At the press conference, the MSO proved its versatility by performing “O Mio Babbino Caro” from Gianni Schicchi with soprano Bianca Lopez-Aguila and “Senza Mamma” from Suor Angelica with soprano Rachelle Gerodias, followed by a rendition of Coldplay’s iconic anthem “Viva La Vida” and a spirited medley of Rico Blanco’s songs “Awit ng Kabataan” and “Liwanag sa Dilim.”

Mr. Chen said that bringing a traditional form of music to modern audiences is a challenge that they are ready to undertake. For him, failing to pass it on to future generations is “a significant loss to our shared humanity and could create a cultural void.”

Beyond indulging in sentimentality, it is “a crucial act of preservation,” he added.

CONCERTS AND TOURS“Road to 100” will kick off with a tribute to the timeless compositions of Giacomo Puccini on March 16 and 17 at the Arete Center of Performing Arts in Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City. Ms. Gerodias and Korean baritone Byeong In-park will join the MSO for the concert, Puccini at 100: Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. It is supported by the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines.

On May 4, Makila in Manila: Sibelius 3 and Dvorak will be held at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati. The Sinfonia Concertante: Mozart-Ching and Beethoven 8 concert is scheduled for July 27 in Ayala Museum in Makati.

Also to be held at the Ayala Museum is Brahms Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky 6 on Aug. 24. Closing the year will be Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, to be held Oct. 5 in the Aliw Theater in Pasay City.

Meanwhile, the MSO’s nationwide tour shall start in April and last until 2025. It will take the orchestra to Las Piñas in May, Batangas in June, Cebu in September, and Bacolod in October. The MSO is open to invitations to add more cities and provinces to the tour.

The celebration’s culminating concerts will take place in 2026, as well as the launch of a commemorative book on the MSO. The book will chronicle the orchestra’s journey over 100 years and will include contributions from its musicians and guest conductors.

The MSO also hopes to raise funds for its attached organizations, including the MSO Foundation, the MSO Music Academy, and the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra.

Tickets for MSO’s upcoming concerts are available via TicketWorld. For more information, visit their social media pages. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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