Jazz fuels FIRe in Manila
Participants from the academe and performing arts at the ninth ACOPEI Conference with National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes and CCP artistic director Chris Millado
Jazz fuels FIRe in Manila
Nenet Galang-Pereña (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — World-renowned blood drum spirit American Jazz Quartet leader, Royal Hartigan, performing with the University of the Philippines ensemble, is a milestone in the advocacy to bring a new global vision to music and dance, showcasing Asian, African, Caribbean, Native American, Middle Eastern and European cultural traditions — the very essence of the ninth conference of the Association of Cultural Offices in Philippine Educational Institutions, Inc. (ACOPEI) held at the Silangan Hall of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). With its theme “Firing up Culture and Arts Education towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe),” the two-day event in September was a milestone, linking stakeholders of culture and the arts from the interfacing fields of academe and practice.

ACOPEI is a national organization of cultural officers of academic institutions, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the promotion of culture among Filipino students. “We aim to be a potent instrument through which cultural artistic programs can be enhanced in the country,” disclosed ACOPEI president Robert Hayden Jr., formerly from Lyceum University, now the executive director of the Academy of Music and Performing Arts of Chiang Kai Shek College. ACOPEI envisions the Philippines as a nurturing community that fosters culture and the arts as instruments to build a new, creative and productive society.

ACOPEI president Robert Hayden setting the bar in the pursuit of excellence in culture and arts education

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe) is a new era characterized by the explosion of information and the disruptiveness of digital technologies which is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. According to Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the new age is differentiated by the speed of technological breakthroughs, the pervasiveness of scope and the tremendous impact of new systems — all conspiring to change our worldview and sense of self.

The conference focused on the intersections of the different art forms in the milieu of FIRe. The keynote address by National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, whose contribution in her field has inspired the growth of dance companies in the country, posited that art will play an importance role in FIRe, and dance in particular will help individuals understand themselves better. Artistic director Chris Millado has the same hope, highlighting the CCP’s regular season of productions, workshops and outreach performances that pushes forward the role of the arts in the national development agenda.

Royal Hartigan of blood drum spirit American Jazz Quartet performing with the UP Ensemble

CHED Commissioner Dr. Aldrin Darilag, Human Resources director of De La Salle University (DLSU) Philippines, is also optimistic that FIRe may be used to enhance the quality and degree of performances in the arts, and articulated CHED’s policy on transnational education as a response to FIRe. Mary Loh, head of Talent Development and Programming at the National University of Singapore Centre for the Arts, shared her deep passion for excellence in arts education and her experiences in working with global arts companies such as The Really Useful Group and Cirque du Soleil. Learning session speakers on managing the arts (Glorife Samodio, director of the DLSU Culture and Arts Office and Martin Emile Lopez of FEU President’s Committee on Culture as well as Rizaline Buncab, DLSU Museum curator, and Roman Cruz of DLSU Theatre Venues and Facilities Management) had important insights from their experiences in the art-academic spheres. Dr. Benito Teehankee, head of DLSU’s Business for Human Development Network (BHDN), posed the question: “Will FIRe help us flourish or perish?” The answer he gave is: “It’s up to us,” i.e. to create a counter cultural movement, never using technology as a substitute for human interaction. The parallel sessions, which are master classes in the different performing art forms (voice, theater and choreography) focused on creative adaptations to FIRe, considering the needs and demands of the Z Generation.

Exuberant ethnomusicologist Hartigan, who has himself bridged the academe and the performing arts (AB Philosophy, BA in African-American music at the University of Massachusetts, MA and PhD in world music from Wesleyan University) chanting and dancing to the beat of a drum, praising the Creator and admonishing “We are One,” is the lasting image of jazz fueling FIRe that the ninth ACOPEI is leaving to culture advocates in Manila and the world.

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