IT was as big, as rich, as romantic as any Broadway extravaganza—full of dazzling orchestral verve. A superior conductor nicknamed, Bob, shook Alex Theater and made it tremble as hundreds of concertgoers listened with rapture from the veritable geyser of Broadway’s most wonderful themes.  Duets, ensemble and melodies were so spontaneous, effervescent as they played with fire the gentlest and caressing repertoire. Like poets they dazzled, but never intrude into the music.

Where else could we find  another musical expression that would portray so many difficult, (and subtle) shades of emotions, passing through an entire cauldron of feelings: tenderness, romance, gaiety, nostalgia, pathos, but above all love of country—of solid patriotism. As the Maestro got more tireless and resilient, his baton was shining and glowing like an Excalibur.

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) is not just for music lovers, but  for every facet of serious or light music. Basically, it is about the presentation of every branch of musical composition—symphonies, operatic, chorales, vocal, chamber music and more.

FASO is the first-ever Filipino Symphony Orchestra outside the Philippines. Filipino musicians, whose sounds of their instruments tuned on, spelled excitement that no one could image that its birth took place in some old back porch over a tete-a-tete a couple of years back. It started from a question “Is there a Filipino Symphony orchestra in the United States?;” replied by “none;”  and concluded with “there will be one!”

Looking back, the first performance at Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, shook the theater, literally. There was an earthquake that did not even distract the spellbound audience, who simply watched with pride, celebrating fellow Filipinos perform in a stunning, record-breaking, magnificent show. There stood the Maestro, an indomitable conductor mighty and sterling leading all, without ever forgetting, not even for a minute. FASO will flourish and triumph because of each one that is a part of it.

The Broadway repertoire at the Alex  Theater was not an invitation. It was stepping into another time, another place, another world, as the Maestro transported us into a bygone era when love meant to “go out and love, suffer and wound, celebrate love’s strength and not moan and complain of the deficiencies…”It reminded us of the sons and daughters  of dramatic journeys and fantastic tales, of their stories carried like treasures as they lay down a shadow of stunning proportion. Whatever race, color or creed, they were all shaped by the drama of the past and sparkle of the moment. The Maestro showed us the signposts.

From our county and beyond, the universal quest for freedom amid colonial romance, famine, despair and political misfortunes lifted their heads high—proud of their heritage in every form of art, most significant through theatrical musical energy.

The Maestro is in a continuing search, going through great lengths for musical talents across generations.

His Broadway repertoire goes deeper into feelings with songs that bring about untold emotions. Not everything was melancholic. It was also cheerful and of passionate, to the truest Filipino culture in magical musical moments.

The special segment created for the child  performers range from poignant  to joyful. It surely moved musical appreciation in the Fil-Am community. Some were so young, yet excruciatingly professional, just like their elder counterparts. The likes of Gigi Kocher, Ninette Tenza, Isabella Ramos and Emily Ferolino—lavishly, sumptuously, fashionably, brought purity while they sublimely, sang in relaxed  an easy voices.

Honored that  evening for having performed in Broadway were Joan Almedilla and Bonifacio “Bones” Deoso. That, according to  Ruben Nepales, was one endearing way to celebrate Filipino talents and much more.

That Saturday, FASO gave it all to us and made Filipinos proud.

Thank you, Maestro Robert Shroder!

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