By Iris Ditan (Class 2021)
After a year of planning and preparation, UP Medicine Choir (UP MedChoir) bagged 4 gold medals and successfully ended their tour at the recently concluded 7th Bali International Choir Festival (BICF 7) held in Indonesia last July 23 to 29, 2018.
With 10 participating countries and 146 participating choir or vocal groups, BICF 7 was a massive event that featured concerts, workshops, and competitions in 16 categories. UP MedChoir was one of three choir groups who represented the Philippines, specifically in the Musica Sacra and Mixed Youth categories. Their repertoire included “Abendlied” (arr. Josef Rheinberger), “Ascendit Deus in jubilatione” (arr. Peter Philips), and “Ama Namin” (arr. Fidel Calalang, Jr) for the Musica Sacra category, and “Sitivit Anima Mea” (arr. Richard Burchard), “Benggong” (arr. Ken Steven), and “Jubilate Deo” (arr. Giovanni Gabrieli) for the Mixed Youth category.
In each of the category competitions, the choir sang 2 songs from their repertoire (Mixed Youth: “Sitivit Anima Mea” and “Benggong”; Musica Sacra: “Abendlied” and “Ascendit Deus in jubilatione”). The choir’s performance in the Mixed Youth Category Competition, held on the third day at the Prime Plaza Hotel, earned them a Gold Medal Level VI award and a spot in the Mixed Youth Championship, which was held the next day. Their score (35.45) placed them a close 2nd after the Mapua Cardinal Singers, another Philippine choir, who scored 35.48 in the same competition. Their performance in the Musica Sacra Category Competition on the fourth day at GYK Kuta, with a score of 33.48, also ensured their advancement to the category’s championship round as well as a Gold Medal Level IV award.
Advancement to the championship round for both categories allowed the choir to sing all six songs they prepared for the competitions. In both categories, UP MedChoir was awarded a gold medal for their performances, with scores of 87.37 and 82.67 for the Mixed Youth and Musica Sacra Championships respectively.
Aside from the competition, UP MedChoir participated in the Charity Concert held at the Cathedral of Holy Spirit on the first day, where they performed “Kordero ng Diyos” (arr. Lucio San Pedro) and “An Irish Blessing” (arr. James Moore, Jr.). They also joined the Choir Exchange and Collaboration activity at the Prime Plaza Hotel on the fifth day of the festival along with the Joa Ladies Choir (Korea), Unity of Voices (Malaysia), and Musa Vocalista Choir (Indonesia). Here, they performed “Kapayapaan” (arr. Armand Villanueva) and shared their skill in creating nature and animal sounds, and at the same time learned new songs and techniques from the other choirs.
Despite the festival lasting only one week, the choir’s preparation had already started a year before. Aside from their usual training schedule, UP MedChoir had also held workshops and chorale clinics with experts, and incorporated the songs in earlier gigs and concerts to get a feel for their performance. Their repertoire was carefully chosen, as Choirmaster Maryam Remoto said, “to showcase the choir’s strength […] but also to challenge them with different genres, such as with “Benggong”, making sure that we weren’t showing the same flavor, showcasing the variety of the choir.”
While UP MedChoir has once again brought pride to the college, their participation in this festival yielded more than what awards can show. BICF 7 was a venue to grow as a choir, form friendships, exchange cultures, and celebrate the shared love for choral music. Recounting the Charity Concert, the Choir Collaboration, and spontaneous singing sessions of the song “Sa Iyong Mga Yapak” (Cerino; arr. Guerrero) with The Unklab Choir (Indonesia) and Cantate Domino (arr. Josu Elberdin) with the Achievers Choir (Indonesia), Tour Head and Assistant Choirmaster Ged Llanes shared, “It’s more than the competition; […] it’s how our love for music brings us together, and singing together is better.”
On the evaluation system:
In the category competitions, the choirs’ performances are evaluated according to criteria, with a total of 40 points. The score a choir gains is equivalent to an award (Bronze Levels 1-10, Silver Levels 1-10, and Gold Levels 1-10). Only choirs who scored a final score of 33.00 (Gold Level IV) or higher will move on to the championship round of that category. In the championship round, choirs are evaluated over 100 points. Their score corresponds to a medal (Successful Participants, Bronze, Silver, Gold), and only the choir in that category with the highest score and a gold medal may move on to the Grand Prix.