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Hallelujah to CCP’S ‘Messiah’ | Philstar.com
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Hallelujah to CCP’S ‘Messiah’

Margie Moran Floirendo - The Philippine Star
Hallelujah to CCPâS âMessiahâ
Conductor Mark Anthony Carpio will conduct Handel’s Messiah at the CCP. Soprano Stephanie Quintin and Tenor Ervin Lumauag
STAR / File

It all started with the ardent wish of someone so dear to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and a promise that it would be done.

Some years back, the late CCP president Baltazar Endriga brought up the possibility of mounting German-born English composer George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at the CCP Main Theater in one of our meetings.

He communicated his wish to Dr. Jaime C. Laya and me, while he was confined in the hospital. It had been on his mind since he served as CCP president in 1995 to 1999, and rejoined the CCP as the chair of the board of trustees in 2001 and 2002.

Sadly, Mr. Endriga passed away without seeing this dream fulfilled.

During the necro tribute to him at the CCP, I vowed that I would make his wish come true. I enjoined Eugene de los Santos, orchestra director of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), to include Messiah in their upcoming concert season.

Handel’s masterpiece has transcended time, and we believed that Filipino people should experience this firsthand, with outstanding Filipino musicians interpreting the classic music.

Soon after, things just started falling into place. From the choice of conductor to soloists and the choir groups and down to our production budget, the CCP is finally staging the greatest classical treat this holiday season, slated on Dec. 16, 2022, 8 p.m., at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

The Baroque oratorio, which first premiered in Dublin in 1742, is part of the PPO’s 38th concert season. A farewell to 2022, the fourth installment of Metamorphosis is also one of the grand productions that the CCP will mount before it closes its Main Building for the much-needed rehabilitation in 2023.

Mark Carpio, the choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers (popularly known as “the Madz”), takes on the huge challenge of conducting both the PPO and the 200-member grand chorus.

This is definitely a challenge for Mark Carpio. While he had conducted selected movements from the choral piece, such as the “Advent” and “Christmas’ portion ending with the “Hallelujah” chorus, this will be the first time Mark will be doing the complete movements of Messiah.

And he will be doing this with an orchestra and a chorus with him as the only conductor. That is something worth anticipating.

“I believe the challenge in this massive work lies not only in its duration (more than two hours), but in making sure the choir and orchestra understand this magnificent and probably one of the world’s most popular choral works,” shared Mark.

The 200-member grand chorus will be composed of current members and alumni of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Sing Philippines Youth Choir, Male Ensemble Philippines, and Musika Filipina. Mark also tapped other choirs from the country’s choral network, including Coro Cantabile, DLSU Chorale, Lighter Side Movement, Novo Concertante Manila, Pansol Choir, Philippine Vocal Ensemble and Song Weavers Philippines.

Aside from the choirs, there are also featured soloists — soprano Stefanie Quintin, tenor Ervin Lumauag, bass-baritone Enrico Lagasca and mezzo soprano Michelle Mariel Mariposa — who render their voices to engage the audience.

While it was originally written for Easter, Handel’s Messiah has become synonymous with the Christmas season. History has it that Handel composed the choral piece centered on the story of nativity, the redemption of mankind, and the resurrection of the Messiah.

Even after 280 years, music lovers all over the world are still in awe of this magnificent choral piece. Stories surrounding this piece have been fascinating, like how Handel composed it in just 24 days, without eating much food and getting enough sleep, and why he chose to premiere it in Dublin, instead of London.

Or how, in 1759, despite his failing health, the genius composer insisted on attending the performance of Messiah at the Theater Royal in Covent Garden and how, eight days later, Handel died in his home.

The “Hallelujah” chorus, played during the second movement, is one of the famous musical pieces of the Baroque era. It is so popular that it has found its way into pop culture, including reality TV show The X Factor, films such as Bridget Jones’ Diary, Dumb and Dumber, Scrooged, and even commercials.

Handel’s Messiah is truly a fitting finale for a wonderful artistic year that the CCP has this 2022. Aside from celebrating the return of live music at the CCP, the concert is our way to thank the Messiah for the better days we are now living in, after surviving the hurdles of the pandemic.

* * *

For tickets and other inquiries, call the CCP Box Office at 8832-3704 / 8832-1125 local 1409. Follow the official CCP social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok for the latest update on Handel’s Messiah Concert on December 16.

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