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'One of a kind' 'Adeste Fideles' Christmas concert goes virtual |

Arts and Culture

'One of a kind' 'Adeste Fideles' Christmas concert goes virtual

Eddie Yap -
'One of a kind' 'Adeste Fideles' Christmas concert goes virtual
Prima soprano Rachelle Gerodias
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — “Rousing magnificence!," exclaimed classical music cognoscente and renowned concert reviewer, Rosalinda Orosa.

“One of a kind," said Fr. Antonio Rosales, OFM, parish priest, after the Santuario de San Antonio Church, with its elegant baroque retablo, resonated with the glorious sound of Christmas.

Well-cherished traditional carols and hymns handed down the ages permeated the air in all their majesty, lushness, richness and fullness by artists who are among the best in the Philippine music firmament.
Four choirs, three sopranos, three tenors and a symphony orchestra delighted the full-house audience starting with Mendelsohn’s enthralling "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" with a prelude by the orchestra in the fashion of an overture punctuated by great pomp, heraldry and fanfare with trumpets blaring, cymbals clashing and drums pounding, followed by the ensemble of vocalists in exultant unison befitting the wondrous herald of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

The recording of this "Adeste Fideles Christmas Concert," originally presented on December 14, 2006, will be streamed via Zoom on 16 December at seven p.m., to viewers in the comforts of their home by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). 

"Adeste Fideles" is the 2nd of a 3-part Festival of Concerts featuring the musical productions for MAP by producer Eddie Yap. The first part was "A Flavor of Vienna Concert" streamed on November 26 and the third will be streamed on December 22 with "Adeste Fideles II," which was staged on December 4, 2007 at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
At the finale, the combined voices of the ensemble erupted in jubilation with the majestic exclamation "Hallelujah Chorus" by Handel.  Conforming to tradition in the Christian world said to have been started by England’s King George II, the audience rose and reverently sang in concordance with the six vocalists and four choirs forming a mass of thousand voices that filled the church to its rafters. 

Encores followed with the festive "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit" and triumphant "Ode to Joy" from the final movement of Beethoven’s monumental 9th Symphony. This ode became the anthem adopted by the Council of Europe and European Union following the unification of Germany. German public radio has been broadcasting this anthem before midnight since it started the tradition on New Year’s Eve of 2006, 
The local audience was given a “spine tingling” treat by the rare guest appearance of visiting Otoniel Gonzaga, a US and Germany based Fil-Am dramatic tenor. Gonzaga stunned the audience with his musicality and vocal prowess in Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful), O Holy Night, a tenor’s solo delight, and in duet with Rachelle Gerodias in "Panis Angelicus" (Bread of Angels).
Gonzaga passed in 2018 in Vienna at the age 75. He was highly acclaimed in the US and Europe for his numerous appearances in various opera houses. He was the first Filipino to sing at Prague’s State Opera after the fall of the Iron Curtain and performed in Beijing at the 20th anniversary celebration of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China. His performances included the role of Fernando in Verdi’s “Attila” in New York City Opera; “Otello” in Yokohama with the Tokyo Metropolitan Opera and the National Opera in Washington, D.C. His most performed role is that of Prince Sou Chong in Lehar’s popular operetta "Das Land des Lachelns" (Land of Smiles), which is endeared for its romantic "Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz" (Your Heart is My Delight). Another of his favorite role was as Calaf in "Turandot," the opera known locally for its "Nessun Dorma" aria.
Prima sopranos Rachelle Gerodias, Karla Gutierrez and Camille Lopez Molina top billed the female vocalists. Molina reverently sang Shubert’s "Ave Maria" and, having been educated in Germany, Hans Gruber’s "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) in German.
Gerodias exhibited her virtuosity and wide vocal range with "Angels from the Realms of Glory," "Payapang Daigdig" and the enrapturing "Joy to the World," before pairing in "Panis Angelicus." 
Gutierrez showed great expression with the tenderly English traditional hymn "What Child is This?" and in a trio with Gerodias and Molina alternately singing verses of the delightful favorite of both young and old, "Twelve Days of Christmas," another English traditional carol.   
Late bloomer tenor George Yang amazed with his solo rendition of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" with a vivid description of the Nativity scene and "Gesu Bambino." Frankie Aseniero tackled the challenging "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."
The two angelic-voiced youth choirs were composed of Mandaluyong Childrens Choir conducted by Sebastian Trinidad and CKS College Youth Choir by renowned choir conductor Irma Tansu. Adult voices were provided by the Santuario San Antonio’s Coro de San Antonio conducted by Fullbright scholar Amelita Dayrit Guevara. Coro Tomasino of the University of Santo Tomas reinforced the adult choir and was ably directed by Ronan Ferrer.
The choirs alternately provided solemnity and joyfulness in "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Ave Maria," "What Child is This," "Gesu Bambino," "The First Nowell," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Carol of the Bells," the stirring "Do You Hear What I hear?," "Payapang Daigdig," the lively "For Unto Us A Child is Born" from Handel’s "Messiah," and the massed voices for "Hallelujah Chorus," "Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit" and "Ode to Joy."
Organ music lends a special tonal quality to church music with its deep sonorous sounds. In "Adeste Fideles," Alejandro Consolacion II, who is probably one of the most sought-after organists in the country, provided the needed touch to traditional carols and hymns, particularly "The First Nowell."  
Christmas cantatas are common in churches, but a concert with a grand scale as "Adeste Fideles" is “one of a kind”, as aptly said by Fr. Rosales. Since then, more and more in-church Christmas concerts have been held in local cathedrals and churches. Previously held as “sacrilegious” by an extreme few religious purist, in-church concerts have gained popular acceptance and Adeste Fideles may have contributed to this much welcomed development.
To avail of this free-to-view streaming of "Adeste Fideles," please register via this link:

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