RJ’s symphonic rock
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - April 9, 2007 - 12:00am
I do not think anybody envisioned rock and roll getting into a partnership with classical music way back in the ‘60s. They sounded like polar opposites. But then The Beatles came along and changed that. It was discovered that Beatles melodies could be arranged and performed in the classical manner and sounded even more beautiful.

So at the same time as the Fabulous Four were growing out their moptops, orchestras, chamber groups, soloists, conductors, etc. were enjoying the charms of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Take note that this development was also probably the reason why classical music ceased to be referred to as long-haired music. How could that be when John Lennon was sporting hair longer than Beethoven’s?

Also way back in the ‘60s, I do not think Ramon Jacinto also envisioned he would one day be performing his composition Weightless with an orchestra. RJ was only 15 at the time and he wrote the tune for The Riots, his guitar-driven instrumental band so popular during those pre-Beatles days. But then came the changes and he too dreamed of one day playing Weightless with a full orchestra.The dream finally came true years and years later and after RJ’s many successes, including his rise to fame as a music artist and entertainment tycoon. Entitled Symphonic Rock, the event was held on Nov. 24, 2005 at Insular Life Theater in Ayala, Alabang. There Main Man RJ performed Weightless and other rock ’n roll hits with the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by Prof. Toti Molina and with arrangements by Chino David."

It was a dream come true for me," says RJ with so much pride for the concert, "because I always wanted to perform classic rock ’n roll tunes and my original hits with a full orchestra."

The repertoire features music from the pre-Beatles era like Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea and Mack the Knife and RJ’s own compositions like Muli. He continues, "I took great care in choosing what songs would be included that would reflect a wide variety of styles." There are ballads, rock ’n roll and even RJ’s take on Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Other songs featured were a Pipeline Medley of Ventures’ hits; Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, A Just for Tonight Medley, Balikbayan, Sugat sa Puso, Blue Star and Stevie Wonder’s Sunshine of Your Love. A bonus track is the ASEAN Theme also composed by RJ and it was performed before all those dignitaries during the closing dinner of last year’s ASEAN meet. RJ and his guitar were up to the challenge of every number and what a team these two have become. Because the show is available on DVD which you can scrutinize all you want, we can really marvel at how the guitar now seems to be an extension of his body and what wonders he can do with it. RJ is on lead vocals and electric guitar; Ernie Viduya on keyboards; Benjie Evia on drums; Owin Cardenas on bass; Jun Manuel on acoustic guitars and Manohar Gurung on percussion. Released by Warner Music, the DVD also features a photo gallery, an interview with RJ and behind-the-scenes footage from the concert.
Cascades Live
If you want more sights and sounds from those good old ‘60s years, you might as well check out The Cascades Live. Presented by the Steve O’Neal Productions and also released by Warner Music, the video comes from The Cascades 2006 World Concert Tour that kicked off with a series of shows in the Philippines last June. Performing the hits Pinoys of all ages have come to love are original Cascades John Gummoe on lead vocals, percussion and keyboard, Gabe Lapano on vocals and keyboard, Tony Grasso on vocals and bass and recent addition Chuck Crews on guitar.

The hits are all here. Let Me Be, Dreamin’, My First Day Alone, Good Day for the Blues, I Wanna Be Your Lover, Dream/ Was I Dreamin’, First Love Never Dies, There’s a Reason, Punch and Judy, Shy Girl, Lucky Guy, Rhythm of the Rain ’63 and for encores, The Last Leaf, plus surprise additions like Achy Breaky Heart and Bye Bye Manila, which the Cascades came up with after discovering how popular they are hereabouts. Special guests are Nina who joins the group for her Love Moves in Mysterious Ways and Angel on My Shoulder and The Company with Rhythm of the Rain.

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