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Arts and Culture

PPO returns to stage for 38th concert season with search for new music director

Margie Moran Floirendo - The Philippine Star
PPO returns to stage for 38th concert season with search for new music director

One can’t precisely quantify what it is that a conductor does. With every wave of their hands or batons, they bring forth the magnificence of the musical masterpiece and provide something intangible that can only be felt with our auditory senses.

As they interpret the notes and set the tempo, musical scores come to life. A conductor becomes the bridge that connects the audience and the musicians, a tactile connection that creates a cohesive experience among the audiences, even for just that spellbinding moment.

Aptly titled “Metamorphosis,” the 38th concert season of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) signifies a new beginning, as the resident orchestra company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) undergoes a series of metamorphoses to set a new bar of world-class excellence and musicality.

The new concert season also signals the return of the orchestra to live performances, as well as ushers in the search for its new music director and principal conductor.

Five of our eight guest conductors have been shortlisted to lead the country’s premiere orchestra company to greater heights and provide uplifting classical music experience to Filipino audiences.

The concert season opened with Maestro David Gomez-Ramirez last Sept. 16 at the CCP Main Theater. One of the most promising young conductors and composers in Spain, the Spanish maestro was a guest conductor for the PPO’s 35th concert season in 2018-2019.

Ramirez has worked with many professional orchestras around the world. He has been chief conductor of the Sagunto Symphony Orchestra, and guest conductor in important orchestras in València, Seville, Madrid, Oviedo and outside of Spain, in France, Portugal, United Kingdom, Mexico, Russia, Romania, Italy and Vietnam.

Maestro Grzegorz Nowak, a much-sought-after conductor with a long career in opera and concerts, conducts the second concert of the series slated for Oct. 7, 8 p.m., also at the CCP Main Theater.

The Polish conductor has been the permanent associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He was the music director of the Polish National Opera, Warsaw, Poland from 2017-2020 and other orchestras in Poland, Germany, Switzerland and the US. He has conducted orchestral music recorded for over 80 CDs that have received awards and five-star ratings.

Bringing with him an expansive repertoire in opera, ballet and symphony, Maestro Noam Zur takes the helm for the third concert happening on Nov. 11.

Since 2017, the Israeli conductor has been the principal conductor and artistic director of the State Symphony Orchestra of Salta, Argentina. He has over 20 years of professional and conducting experience during which he developed an expansive repertoire in opera, ballet and symphony. He is also a composer and arranger, having recorded his own works in “Funkhausorchester des WDR Köln” in August 2016, which he conducted as well.

The fifth concert of the series brings in Maestro Shizuo Kuwahara on Jan. 27, 2023, 8 p.m., at the Metropolitan Theater.

Kuwahara is the first prize winner of the prestigious Georg Solti International Conductors’ Competition in Frankfurt, Germany. The Japanese-American conductor has led performances throughout Europe, North and South America, and Asia.  He was also an assistant and cover conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Orchestra de Paris. He suspended his principal guest conductor position with The Mariinsky Theatre in early 2022 until the global conflict can be resolved.

Maestro Haoran Li steps on the dais for the sixth concert of the series on Feb. 24, 2023, 8 p.m., also at the Met Theater.

The Chinese conductor was the assistant conductor of China Philharmonic Orchestra from 2019-2020, and the National Center for the Performing Arts Beijing, China in 2018. For the 2022-2023 season, he led concerts with La Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, Romanian Radio National Orchestra, Lasi Philharmonic Orchestra, Banatul Philharmonic Orchestra of Timi?oara, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, and the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra.

Completing the season are the Philippines’ very own respected figures in music. Maestro Mark Anthony Carpio conducts the holiday music treat on Dec. 16, at the CCP Main Theater, featuring George Frideric Handel’s “The Messiah.”

The current choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, also a CCP resident company, Maestro Carpio is one of the most respected figures in choral music and a sought-after choral clinician who has given extensive and in-depth workshops nationally and internationally

Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng, meanwhile, takes on the seventh concert of the series slated on March 17, 2023, 8 p.m. at the Met Theater. She is currently the president of the Philippine Choral Directors Association, and a full-time faculty member of the UP College of Music where she teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting.

Maestro Herminigildo Ranera, the PPO associate conductor, closes the concert season on April 28, 2023, 8 p.m., at the Met Theater. A conductor, composer, arranger, performer and educator, Maestro Ranera obtained his music degree from the University of Sto. Tomas (UST); his master’s in conducting from the University of Northern Colorado, and doctorate in educational management from Cagayan State University. He pursued his doctorate degree in musical arts at St. Paul University, Manila, where he also serves as a faculty of the graduate school.

For this concert season, the PPO finds a new home in the Metropolitan Theater while the CCP Main Building undergoes renovation and rehabilitation. Part of their series will be held at the Grand Dame.

For inquiries and tickets, call CCP Box Office at 8832-3704 or email [email protected] Visit the CCP website for more information.

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Margie Moran Floirendo is president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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