Filipino music constantly expresses intense longing, caring, devotion and oneness with the beloved. It can be romantic, patriotic, religious or mournful; a consolation, a lullaby or a protest—full of soulful longings and deep pity, devotion and love.

Last Sunday, August 17, in an enchanting open air concert at the Ford Amphitheatre, Serenata Filipina, an ensemble with the quiet elegance of perfect balance, escape and indulgences, presented a stellar group of glorious voices; instruments in perfect harmony that gave the audience a full range of insight and in depth perspective, substance and literature in the music world.

In a wondrous blend of pop, jazz, choral and rock, the audience was mesmerized and treated to Original Pilipino Music (OPM) that highlighted Filipino ingenuity and fresh interpretation of popular favorites. Beyond measure and as varied as  can be, producer/director Annie Nepomuceno continues to adhere to that belief that musical production is a collaborative art form, where everyone’s involvement in the production has to be total, in an enthusiasm that is limitless and irresistible.

At the heart of this ensemble were warm and enduring relationships among these professionals of great talents. In an enchanting repertoire that reflected the deep affinity to the nostalgia of old times and values,  the Harana Men’s Chorus made us long for yesterday’s sparkling vivacity of that era. With hints of retribution about a lost part of the past, in an indispensable eclectic treasury of music, peerless concert music director Ed Nepomuceno delivered the most powerful integrated interpretations of any score in the night’s repertoire, with his beat, precision and clarity.

The APO medley was a tasty dessert, the tender Atin Cu Pung Singsing folksong (highly chromatic) let everyone drown in the grand love songs, usahay, neneng, Ikaw  Lamang…Ikaw ang Lahat sa akin…and we never say Goodbye…all sung in relaxed, easy voice, through they may employ falsetto, which is actually not compulsory. Sarunbanggi sung in Bicol was to die over —  you would wish the night and the moonlight would never end.

The band medley of Louise Marie Cornillez, Lara Avengoza, Annie Nepomuceno and Josie Gonzales was incandescent and fresh, almost sinfully satisfying. The ladies wore their gowns fashionably, but the singers inside them are all flesh and blood, who brought purity and sublimity as they unleashed numbers in a rich flexibility of musical expression, poignant in its romantic splendor, each singing brighter than the others.

Mon David’s surprise number with the evenings special guest, Nicole and Carlo David, were perhaps the most awaited number. The expectation was almost breathtaking…one can not describe  how truly proud we felt from him, to reach such heights, from winning the 2006 London Internationl Jazz Competition for vocalist to his  International Jazz Competition for Vocalist and currently making waves in the US Mainstream jazz scene.

Mon David was a poignant troubadour one minute; in another second, he was full of savage strength and romantic splendor in a rich flexibility of musical expression. His sleeves could shake musical tones so significantly that you could almost gaze in the flood of melody, tenderness and beauty. How could his apples, Nicole and Carlo, fall far from the tree? The audience gave the duo a thunderous round of applause, and their CDs sold like hotcakes.

Erwin Andaya presented a new form of artistic expression—a delicate blend, yet majestic grandeur of singing classics and pop music. He sang on intimate scales, upon grace and delicacy to majestic declaration, in a timbre and caress that mesmerized the audience into spontaneous ovation.

And to the Golden Couple of our music world, Ed and Annie Nepomuceno, whose musical characterization from classics to pop, gave us gaiety and laughter, pain and loss, agony and ecstasy, which integrated the musical texture of the concert.

Thank you, Annie and Ed!

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