Saturday, August 20, 2016

Firebird and Other Ballets

I heard the radio ad for Firebird and Other Ballets one day and thought that this may be the chance I get to watch Ballet Philippines again. It's one of the hobbies I picked up as a child: watching theatre acts and musical performances as part of my cultural education, shall I say. 

And as usual, I had absolutely no idea what I was about to watch. But in this case, ignorance makes the visuals a pleasant surprise because the costumes were not the typical tutus that ballerinas wear in classical performances; rather, they were wearing masterpieces by Mark Lewis Higgins.

I got a seat on the first row; hence, I got a really good view of the costumes. They are amazing! The princess' costume reminded me of the Paunjalay because of the vivid blues and the bells. On the other hand, the ensemble dancers reminded me of flower vases... this is so Beauty and the Beast (the vases where actually people who had been enchanted to be flower vases, like Lumiere, Mrs Potts, and the others in the animated movie. And then there were the male characters. Not sure what they were supposed to represent but they were clad in gold and had tribal marks on their limbs. 

And the story? It's all about a prince and a bird, which I initially thought was a rooster. The prince was in an enchanted forest and he encountered a bird. Because he saved its life, the bird told him that she'd come to his aid when he called upon her. On the other hand, an evil person was living his immortal life because his soul, hidden in a golden egg, cannot be found nor destroyed by anyone. He couldn't accept that the prince and the princess fell in love so he got his henchmen to capture the prince. But since the prince had called for help already, the firebird came swooping down, distracting the henchmen long enough until the prince was able to destroy the golden egg. Then, the enchantments were lifted and the characters lived happily ever after... Except the evil man of course. Initially, I thought that I was watching Ibong Adarna, but I was wrong. This ballet piece, Firebird, is based on a Russian fairy tale, rather than on a Filipino one. But still, it's amazing to see similarities in themes despite the difference in cultures.

The dancers were very good and I was lucky to have snagged a front row seat. It may not be the best seat in the house (because it wasn't as expensive as those in the middle of the orchestra level), but I was able to see them perform up close. I liked their performance so much that now I am looking forward to the next performances this season!

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Beyond the Six Strings"

Indeed, the Silangan Chamber Guitar Ensemble showed what guitar performances are like beyond six strings. It was an evening of classical music in Church Among the Palm's new chapel; despite issues with the acoustics (the echoes were quite bad), the guitarists' renditions of the classics made me wonder how could they play such complicated pieces seemingly without difficulty?

I have to be honest; I am not such a big fan of classical music. I know Mozart's Requiem quite well and I listen to it when I feel stressed out. Beethoven, sure, with Symphony No. 9's Ode to Joy. Other than these pieces, I am not familiar with classical music... much less with those arranged particularly to be played by guitar ensembles.

And so tonight, I listened in to appreciate the classics. And the guitarists helped... a lot. The audience was taken on a musical journey that enthralled and educated. We listened to pieces composed by people I have never heard of (except for Antonio Vivaldi); there were western classics and then there were pieces with a more Latin flair. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

It was a good evening with great music. And it was for a good cause too. The concert was part of fund-raising efforts for the Church Among the Palms sanctuary.