Wednesday, November 19, 2014

O light, o music divine

Looking pleased even from her side view, lyric coloratura Sumi Jo, a superstar in the operatic and cross-over music world, enfolds soprano Myramae Meneses in her loving arms during a master class at St. Scholastica's College in February this year. Photo by Anna Leah Sarabia

Ms Meneses (in white) and tenor Ivan Niccolo Nery (rightmost) at the Viva Voce's repeat of "Complicated The Concert" at the Lopez Museum in July Photo by Babeth Lolarga

The days are shortening, the nights are lengthening, and we just hurried past mid-November! I once wrote a former pen pal (Frank Cimatu, then on Friendly fellowship in Seattle) how my young children then wished that November could be skipped so that their eager hands and hearts could get on with the "business" of Christmas (unwrapping presents, receiving gold and red ampao envelopes and such).

Often and nearly forgotten during the lead-up to Yuletide are people for whom the merriment of the season feels like a stinging slap on the face, that is, they may resent it in their pain or lonesomeness. Is it any wonder that cases of depression are ironically high during this celebratory season?

And here comes the Culture Arts Events Organizer (CAEO) about to swing a balance between the celebration of the liberator Christ child's birth and putting The Beatitudes into action. Its concert, "Christmas Solstice," billed as an evening of timeless Christmas carols on Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ayala Museum on Makati Ave. will have for its beneficiaries children who need medical treatment for their cancer.

The three featured singers are among the most sought after following their respective professional debuts at the same venue in 2013 and this year: soprano Myramae Meneses and Stephanie Aguilar, and tenor Ivan Niccolo Nery. Pianist Greg Zuniega will assist them in their renditions of carols from the 17th century to the present. These songs include: Felipe de leon's "Pasko Na, Sinta Ko" and "Payapang Daigdig", the exquisite "Cantique de Noel" (also known as "O Holy Night"), Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece "Pie Jesu," Cesar Franck's "Panis Angelicus," Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim."

The Handel aria, which is from his opera Samson, has been interpreted, each in their lovely way, by sopranos Renee Fleming, Kiri Te Kanawa and Kathleen Battle (go to YouTube, my friend!). A bit of background on the lyrics is: "the aria summons the celestial hosts of seraphim and cherubim to hail the dead hero, with trumpet figures responding to the singer." (Source:

Let us go then, let us go with the angels as one imagines them descending as these are sung on Advent's first Sunday:

Let the bright seraphim
in burning row,
their loud, uplifted angel trumpets blow.

Let the cherubic host,
in tuneful choirs,
touch their immortal harps
with golden wires.

Tickets are available at Ticketworld, tel. no. 891-9999, or the CAEO, tel. nos. 782-7164, 517-3763, 0920-954-0053, 0918-347-3027 or 0920-465-5725.

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