Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Philippine Madrigal Singers. Mark Anthony A. Carpio, Artistic Director and Choirmaster. September 24, 2017.

St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, Metuchen, NJ.  Nave ($25).

Program – A Musical Spiritual Journey

LH from our church alerted us to this “excellent ensemble,”  she got enough people to go that we got a $5 discount off the $30 ticket.

The group, technically the University of the Philippine Madrigal Singers (Madz for short) has been around for over 50 years, and has performed widely internationally, and sung in front of dignitaries from Popes to Emperors to Presidents.

For today’s concert, most songs were sung a cappella, with guitar used on occasion.  As far as I could tell, the group didn’t use any sound amplification systems, although soloists and the guitar did make use of one.  LH and I were having a discussion of how many parts were needed to make such a rich sound.  I said four would be sufficient, she thought more was needed.  (I won that argument.)

The songs were mostly in English, with two in Latin (clear enough what these were trying to say) and two in Tagalog.  Google Translate couldn’t understand the first one (although it did know it was Filipino), and the second one was translated as “Prayer in Openess.”

While calling this a “spiritual journey” may be too much, there was quite a few Christian songs in the mix.  We were inside a cathedral, after all.  One song that was somewhat out of place was “Let It Be” by the Beatles.  (Technically “Mother Mary” would make it religious.)

No lyrics were included in the Program Notes, which was cleverly titled “Pray Bill” (or perhaps too trite.)  They would have added a lot to the spirituality of the program, in my opinion.  Words to several songs could be found on the web, and I appreciated them a lot more because of that.

Clever, cute, or too cute?  And is this copyright violation?

It is always amazing to hear how harmonious some ensembles sound, and Madz is no exception.  Not being a fan of this sort of music, that awe went away after a couple of songs.

The cathedral is huge, seating 1000 people per its website.  The event was very well attended, our seats were more than half way towards the back.  Today was an unusually warm fall day, so we appreciated the air-conditioning.  However, the constant drone given out by the cool air rushing from the vents meant the audience had trouble hearing soft passages, and on several occasions they began to applaud before the soft endings of the songs were finished.  While I can't fault the group for being seated during the performance, it did make seeing them difficult for those of us in the back.

Madz at curtain call.

The concert started at 4 pm, and concluded at 6.  Anne and I went to a local Chinese supermarket and picked out take-home dishes so she could start her 8 pm class on time.

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