Culture Magazine

A People in Need of Food, Water--and Music

By Gibbs22manila @gibbscadiz
Reno Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Laura Jackson in a 2009 interview, recalling her stint with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra:
The first job that I did this season was in the Philippines, it was in Manila, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. These people are very poor. They travel more than two hours each way to play in this orchestra, and it pays them peanuts. I mean, they have to have huge jobs outside of this orchestra in order to survive.
On my third rehearsal, a third of the orchestra was missing. I was thinking, "Boy, these people are relaxed because we're almost at the dress rehearsal and nobody's here." Well, they came in soaking wet and sat down without a single word and just played. I was like, "What is going on?"
I asked the orchestra manager at the intermission and she said there was serious flooding on the highways coming in and that people parked their cars on the side of the road and walked, carrying their instruments over their heads. That, to me, tells me that these people who are practically starving, these are the needs in their life: food, water and music. That was incredibly inspiring to me and I felt like if these people are willing to knock themselves out for this to be part of their life, that tells me how much we need it.

PLUS: From the baul--Symphonic Eraserheads! Pinoy pop meets classical as Ryan Cayabyab rearranges the E-heads' top hits into a sweeping concerto, with Gener Caringal's Philippine Ballet Theater providing the en pointe dancing. Intriguing, exciting transmutation. If you can't stand ballet, just close your eyes and listen to the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra lend lushness and majesty to the band's playful melodies. Another highlight of ABS-CBN and CCP's Kulturang Handog sa Bayan concert of many moons ago.


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