Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - August 22, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  One does not have to be a musicologist to be seized by the awesome power of music.

It only takes being open to be lulled, to be touched, to be moved. This is what the crowd at the SM Seaside City Centerstage on Sunday night, August 18, had realized.

Despite modest pre-event publicity, the back-to-back concert of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the University of the Visayas Chorale filled up the venue almost to the very last seat. The more serious audience came on time, a few minutes before the performance started. The casual, mostly younger crowd was still coming in after the intermission halfway through the concert.

In the end, those who witnessed the performance in full were ecstatic about the musical experience. The late-comers regretted having missed a part of the show. Indeed, every moment of the “MADZSAULOG” concert was to be relished.

The concert repertoire was very smartly planned out. The performance opened with a number that was kind of middle-of-the-road, not too serious yet not too lighthearted. Then the mood dove a little deeper, although not too deep to alienate anyone. 

For the most part of the concert, the Philippine Madrigal Singers were seated semi-circle, as is the group’s characteristic performance style. The University of the Visayas Chorale had dynamic choreography going with their numbers. But as soon as their respective identities were established, the two groups crossed style lines.

The Madz delivered the sweet Visayan love song “Bulan” beautifully; their “Day, Baleng Mingawa” was simply magnificent. The UV Chorale brought the house down with its wacky rendition of “Kinsa Siya?” Interestingly, while the Madz would remain physically composed when doing perky numbers, the UV Chorale gave the classic songs a contemporary flair.

Oh, yes, the JRG Visayanian Halad Orchestra was notable. The finale number, which could still have held well with just the pure voices of the choristers, was splendid with the smooth sound of the musical instruments. It was a big surprise to see that the highly professional-sounding accompaniment was the doing of mostly teenage orchestra members.

In a most significant way, the MADZSAULOG concert wowed the audience that night. In his opening speech, Sir Dodong called it “a dream come true” for him personally. He was beaming all throughout the show, with wife Nena beside him. Ma’am Nena herself must have felt utterly proud as UV Chorale manager that her relatively young choir was sharing the same stage, performing back-to-back, with a more established act like the Madz. (Both groups are world-class, frequently performing separately before international audiences.)

The encore number “The Coconut Song” was a riot! The merry mood on stage was so inviting, prompting the audience to stomp their feet to the music. At that point, the choral concert was becoming a party.

The one-night-only musical treat was part of the celebrations of the University of the Visayas Centennial. No wonder it had to be big – and big it really was. Bravo!

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