Last Saturday, Sept. 10, an enchanting indoor concert with a profusion of unique talents in the musical world of songs, settled briefly at the Envision Center in Van Nuys, California.
The center was a haven patronized for its artistic, social and business prestige. Behind its lights and nuggets of musical lines was producer and director Rhea Rachelle N. Espino, who set a tone that allowed both the audience and artists to celebrate together with music.
Rhea has an unspoken and affectionate advantage of communicating to the singers — never pretending omniscience even after delivering the most powerful integrated interpretation of the performance of the night’s repertoire, with its own look in approach and style. It was clear, precise and had an unshakeable view of the production and director’s goal.
Like some spell in the brink of anticipating strain and musical conscience, singer Ivy Violan started to slip and slide. Swishing and swooping, joined by Mitch Franco and the ensemble one after each other. Their performance had the nostalgia of old times and values — incomparable perception, delicate embellishments and style, blessed with magnificent timing, power and precision. A repertoire of melodies filled with tenderness, gaiety and laughter, pain and love.
One minute, Ivy could be the greatest; in another second full of passionate strength and romantic splendor in such a rich flexibility of musical expression. In an entirely new facet of expression, her fresh rendition in every number is her strength.
The 3rd ASEAN Popular Song Festival in Bangkok, Thailand was one of the high points of her career and even today, she vividly remembers that day.
“In my whole participation in the ASEAN countries, that was the most competitive and heartbeat stopping. All the best singers were there,” she shared.
The host country, Thailand, had a really super singer and was a favorite but it was Ivy that took home the coveted prize.
“There was something more there, too. And I say this seriously- sometimes in victory is when you feel that you are humbled, which puts you in the position where one is better able to be played by music. It opened my eyes. There is [an] unarguable central tenet of Christianity, everybody is equal in God’s eyes,” she said, continuing, “Distance or race does not decide who is your brother or not. Even then, I knew we were ones. The idea of grace, that is the reason I am a Christian. I have since then composed songs and created music through coming in touch with God, that which gives a reason to be alive, to believe in. It is so spiritual.”
Filipino music constantly expresses intense longing, caring, devotion and oneness with their beloved. It can be romantic, patriotic — even religious and mournful. A consolation, a lullaby or a protest, it is filled with soulful languages and deep pity devotion or love.
That night, an ensemble with the quiet elegance of perfect balance, escape and elegance; presented a stellar group of glorious voices, in a wondrous blend of pop, jazz and rock. As the lights went up and the performers on the stage conveyed, the thundering applause spoke for a grateful evening. Each and everyone gave a part of themselves.
Like pebbles, together they made a boulder.