New UP Los Baños ensemble wins first Gawad Pangulo choir contest

It was an evening of firsts at the final round of the UP Gawad Pangulo Choral Competition on March 4.

Not only was it the maiden edition of the system-wide contest but it was also the first time that the university had, in the words of President Alfredo Pascual, “a performing arts competition where [it] engaged the whole UP.”

What’s more, it was the newly-formed choral ensemble from UP Los Baños, in its inaugural performance at that, which brought home the grand prize.

The winning group was the Makiling Chamber Singers. Created to support long-time choristers in reviving their passion for choral singing and performing on stage, it joined the competition to formally legitimize itself as a choral group in UP. Its powerful rendition of Eudenice Palaruan’s “Gapas” as well as of the commissioned contest piece during the finals night at the UP Theater easily made it a crowd favorite.

Big winner Makiling Chamber Singers of UP Los Baños is composed of students and faculty members who are alumni of various high school and university choirs. (Photo credit: Alice Morta)

In second place was a singing group that also made its first public performance on the same night. UP Cebu’s Sugbuanong Huni consists of students, faculty and administrative staff who believe that music is a “wonderful force that can institute brotherhood, love and peace.” 

Sugbuanong Huni, organized by UP Cebu mainly for the contest, was in second place. (Photo credit: Alice Morta)

Unlike its newer counterparts, third placer Tinig Amianan was one of the first student organizations in UP Baguio. The only student group on campus inclined with choral music, it is guided by the principle “for musical excellence.”

Tinig Amianan of UP Baguio, which rendered a Cordillera folk song, secured the third spot (Photo credit: Alice Morta)

The other choirs that competed in the final round were UP Open University Chorale (UP Open University), UP College of Pharmacy Junior Ambassador of Music (UP Manila), UP Public Health Artists Circle (UP Manila), UP Engineering Choir (UP Diliman), and the UP Staff Chorale (UP Diliman).

Each of the finalists interpreted a freely chosen choral piece and the contest piece written by poet Marra Lanot and composed by Dr. Maria Christine Muyco. The latter was commissioned by the UP College of Music specifically for the event.

Sitting in the jury were Ma. Lourdes Hermo, professor of music at St. Scholastica’s College School of Music; Martin Anthony Carpio, choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers; Jonathan Velasco, renowned choral conductor, clinician and adjudicator; and Mary Katherine Trangco-Cabral, faculty member at the UP College of Music Composition and Theory Department. Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng, assistant professor of music in UP Diliman, was head of the board of judges. 

Associate Professor Janet Sabas Aracama of the UP College of Music was the workshop facilitator while Dr. Raul Navarro, college secretary, and Dean Jose Buenconsejo served as project leaders.

Front row, from left: Dr. Raul Navarro, Dean Jose Buenconsejo, President Alfredo Pascual, Vice President Gisela Concepcion, Mr. Jonathan Velasco, Ms. Mary Katherine Trangco-Cabral, Ms. Ma. Lourdes Hermo, Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng and Mr. Mark Anthony Carpio (Photo credit: Alice Morta)

Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion said that the competition was conceptualized not only to celebrate the College of Music’s centennial but also to encourage holistic development among UP students, faculty, research and administrative staff. 

It is also in support of President Pascual’s vision to build “One UP” which, according to the president, is a “vital component in forging the path towards UP’s greatness.” 

The Gawad Pangulo Choral Competition was organized by the Office of the President through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the UP College of Music. Its theme this year was “One UP for the Nation and for the World.”

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