Thursday, September 6, 2012

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic Scores, Manila Enjoys a Potter Riot

Last Sunday, I went to see the ABS CBN Philharmonic play to a full house.  It was their first major concert and according to conductor and musical director Gerard Salonga, it was the first time he saw all the seats filled up for the orchestra’s performance—not to mention these were bought tickets and not freebies.

The Meralco Theater brimmed with people of all ages who attended a concert designed around the musical scores of the legendary composer John Williams. Williams wrote the music for the Star Wars films, the Harry Potter films, the Indiana Jones films, Superman, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind—to name but a few.

Gerard is the only conductor I’ve seen who addressed the audience throughout the show:  introducing the pieces played, telling a story or two and offering a little bit of trivia behind the music. At one point, he turned around to reveal the classic blue shirt with the Superman logo on it under his conductor’s jacket. He was obviously having fun.

I’m not an expert on concertos and orchestras (I do believe there is protocol both for the performers and the audience), while I can’t give  proper notes on how the 40-piece ensemble worked together or how the kettledrums sounded, to me, they were great and polished.

They did justice to the cinematic music which took many in the audience back to their childhoods (no matter how distant or recent). The show ended with a second encore--the closing credits from Star Wars, at which point, over a dozen members of the Philippines Outpost of 501st Legion of Stormtroopers (these folks are recognized by George Lucas himself) joined the orchestra on stage. Darth Vader, C3P0, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and some of the gang from that galaxy far, far away.

Superman (aka Gerard Sison) was also on hand for photographs before the show. If anyone from the ABS-CBN Philharmonic reads this, can you do another one, with the music of Hans Zimmer? We’ll provide the pirates.

Harry Potter didn’t just have a moment at this concert though; he had a bunch of moments last week as “Potted Potter” played 10 nights here. The show is currently touring the region--apart from Manila, they go on in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand.

Potted Potter was a quite a little riot for a show with but two cast members, a humble set and a quick running time. Potted Potter fits all seven books in 70 minutes. The lads, Jesse and Gary, were marvelous comedians and it’s great how they fixed parts of the script especially for the local audience—they asked for a “walis ting ting” for playing Quidditch, Harry Potter sulks in his room to listen to the “Eraserheads” and the backdrop of for the scary forest looked more like “Boracay.”

Next week, I’m looking forward to catching the Metro Manila release of Cinemalaya’s “Ang Nawawala” directed by Marie Jamora and starring my coloring book partner, Annicka Dolonius.

Photo by Niki Yarte

The ABS-CBN Philharmonic performed the music of John Williams September 2nd. Potted Potter ran from August 28 to September 2. Ang Nawawala opens in cinemas in the city September 12th.

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