UP MedChoir Shine in Song in 30th Anniversary and Year-End Concert

By Lorena Osorio (Class 2021)

Photos by Markyn Kho (Class 2020)

The UP MedChoir family pose post-concert.

Garbed in white, blue, and gold, the UP Medicine Choir (UP MedChoir) filled the auditorium with their soulful voices once again for their year-end concert.

Entitled Cantiamo Tutti, which translates to “we all sing”, the concert was held last May 11, 2019 at the Sto. Cristo del Tesoro Auditorium, Santa Isabel College. The annual event was made more significant as it marked the 30th year of the organization, the departure of the choirmaster (who is a member of this year’s graduating class), and the turnover to a new choirmaster. Proceeds from the benefit concert would go to the PGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

An exhibit, ticket and souvenir booth, and snack area greeted guests outside the auditorium.

The program was divided into 3 sections. The first one, entitled Celebration of the Present, kicked off with Christopher Tin’s “Baba Yetu”, with Chris Kiagiri’s Swahili translation of The Lord’s Prayer, featuring soloist David Robles (Class 2019) and percussionists Nathan Bantayan (Class 2025), Hans Bondoc (Class 2022), Ged Llanes (Class 2021), and Ethel Viray (Class 2019). This was followed by “Crucifixus a 8” (Antonio Lotti) and “Wohlauf, ihr Gäste” (Erasmus Widmann).

The choir sings “The Music of Stillness”.

A short spiel on the UP MedChoir’s shared roots in Filipino traditions preceded the next two pieces, “Usahay” (Nitoy Gonzales, arr. Ramon Acoymo) and the folksong “Mamayog Akun” (arr. Fabian Obispo). The next song, Sara Teasdale’s “The Music of Stillness” (arr. Elaine Hagenberg), featured Miguel Medina (Class 2023) on the piano. To close the first section, soloists Hans Bondoc, Gillian de Luna (Class 2022), Justine Jacinto (Class 2020), and Liza Laroco (Class 2022) led the choir in Moses Hogan’s “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel”.

During the intermission, videos showcasing the activities and choir life of the organization were played. Snacks were also served courtesy of the event’s sponsors.

UP MedChoir alumni perform for the second part of the concert.

In a turn of tribute, MedChoir alumni and currently practicing physicians took to the stage for the second section, entitled Celebration of the Past. Introduced by Jae Salvan, MD and conducted by Caloy Ongchangco (both from UPCM Class 2008), the choir performed “Open Thou Mine Eyes” (lyrics by L. Andrew, composition by John Rutter) and “Rosas Pandan” (arr. George Hernandez).

Ongchangco then shared a short story about how the choir had to change their piece at the last minute before a competition but proceeded to win it anyway; the piece was Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” (arr. Robert Delgado), which they performed next. A rendition of “When I Fall in Love” (arr. Kirby Shaw) followed. To close their set, the alumni sang “Dok” (lyrics by Joanne Nuñez, composition by Namnama Villarta), a piece composed by members of UPCM Class 2004 which won champion in the 2000 Tao Rin Pala Choral Competition.

Class 2019 members of the choir perform “Someone Like You”.

To end the second section, the Class 2019 members of the choir performed Wildhorn and Briscusse’s “Someone Like You” (arr. F. Calalang). A video dedicated to these graduating members was then shown.

Part 3, Celebration of the Future, kicked off with “New Broadway Medley” (arr. A. Nepomuceno), led by soloists Miguel Dimacali (Class 2019), Jireh Maganayes (Class 2019), David Robles, Ethel Viray (Class 2019), and Janno Yanto (Class 2019). This was followed by Gary Valenciano’s “Narito” and “Eres Tu” (arr. Robert Delgado), led by soloist Mikee Chan (Class 2022). The choir then performed their rendition of the Ben&Ben song “Leaves” (arr. Darren Vega), led by Miguel Dimacali, Jason Olaya (Class 2022), Bea Tan (Class 2020), with an ensemble of Hans Bondoc, Isabel Fernando (Class 2022), Franz Libre (Class 2021), Ian Macinas (Class 2020), Isabel Serrano (Class 2021), Bea Tan, and Janno Yanto.

Afterwards, Maryam Remoto (Class 2019), UP MedChoir’s Choirmaster for the past three years, took to the podium to share her seven-year journey as a chorister, which she said has helped her discover a family and grow on her way to becoming a doctor.

She then turned her position over to Geremiah Llanes, who offered her a bouquet of flowers and thanked her for leading and serving the choir. Llanes moved to front and center, turned his back to the audience, and served as conductor for the next two pieces, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (arr. Geremiah Llanes), and Willy Cruz’ “Bituing Walang Ningning” (arr. Robert Delgado).

Choirmaster Maryam Remoto conducts for one last performance.

Remoto took the position of conductor for one final time for the last performance, Dodjie Simon’s “Isang Dugo, Isang Lahi, at Musika” (arr. Robert Delgado).

Cheers and shouts for an encore were answered by Llanes conducting the choir for performances of “Moon River” and “Ang Gaan-Gaan ng Feeling” before the show finally ended.

Under a new choirmaster

Llanes has been assistant choirmaster for the past year in preparation for the transition, and would be the one if Remoto would not be available. “I would often be asked to listen to the choir during rehearsals instead of singing, to help accustom myself to the role,” he says. “However, I think the greatest preparation the choir gave me is the honing of my determination and commitment to the choir. The dedication needed for this position is monumental and I believe my love and passion for music and for this choir has grown in equal to it.”

New choirmaster Ged Llanes with outgoing choirmaster Maryam Remoto.

For the next two years of MedChoir under his lead, Llanes says, “We can all look forward to an exciting year with new faces and new voices still living by our motto of healing through music, commemorating the generations that have passed and guiding the generations to come.”

Looking back and ahead

The concert also marked the end of another year of growth and opportunity for the organization. “We were able to try a lot of different things this year,” says President Eunice de Leon (Class 2021). “We jumpstarted the year by participating in the 7th Bali International Choir Festival (BICF) — our first competition in two years — where we won four gold medals and got to share our music to choirs from all over the world. We also had the opportunity to perform for a benefit concert hosted by UNICEF, and were once again featured on national television and radio. Apart from these, we were able to stage two successful major concerts this year — our homecoming concert last October, How Great Thou Art, and our 30th anniversary year-end concert held just this month, Cantiamo Tutti.”

Eunice de Leon front, second from right.

“We’re always working hard to improve our craft and share our music to more people, so you can expect even bigger and better MedChoir performances in the future,” she adds. “Though nothing’s final yet, we’re also definitely looking into preparing something new and different for our audiences. Stay tuned!”

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