By Marivr R. Montebon
New York – There is nothing like singing an old tune with the composer-singer of songs you grew up with. Last Sunday, April 27, Filipinos at the East Coast did just that in a concert An Evening of Original Philippine Music with Cecile Azarcon and the Sounds of Manila, produced by Synergy Productions and Marketing, Inc.
Cecile, one of the pioneering composers for original Pilipino music (OPM), graciously engaged her audience in upper Manhattan’s Symphony Space to sing along with her popular compositions. She opened promptly with the song she first composed at age 19, the inspirational song, Lift Up Your Hands.
Filipinos in New York, nostalgic and animated, sang with her…Cast your burdens upon me those who are heavily laden… For a people in diaspora and known for their faith, the song was simply appropriate and reverberated at the concert hall.
Many gushed to have known first hand from Cecile herself, that singer Basil Valdez immediately loved the song when he heard her sing it by the piano room and offered to record it. Thus was born the genre OPM, where Cecile became one of the few respected composers.
At the concert sponsored by GMA International (GMA Pinoy TV & GMA Life TV), she paid special tribute to her grandmother who was her first piano and voice teacher in a song she composed for her. “Salamat po,Lola. Who would have thought that my piano lessons with you would lead me to a career in music.”
Celebrating 35 years of composing romantic and inspirational songs, the concert was Cecile’s first in the Big Apple. She currently resides with her family in Vallejo, California.
Along with arranger Lorrie Illustre, she composed well-loved hits for Martin Nievera such as Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin and Gary Valenciano’s Reaching Out and How Did You Know, sang in the concert by Jared Martin and Sounds of Manila, respectively.
The Sounds of Manila, a revival of Philippine singers in the 1980s which regrouped in New York, launched its first CD album at the concert. Titled Sounds of Manila sings Cecile Azarcon, it is a collection of Cecile’s original compositions.
Suzanne Lansangan-Sabangan and Hermie Angeles did a beautiful duet of How Did You Know at the concert. Originally sung by Chiqui Pineda, the new arrangement by Lorrie Illustre has given the song a more romantic flair.
Tony Gado’s rendition of River Maya’s Hinahanap Hanap Kita was a cool start at the opening of the concert and so was Arnel Arcedo who sang Gary Valenciano’s Babalik Ka Rin.
But it was Tiffany Viray who brought the house down at the beginning of the night with her highly impressive belting of the overly cheesy Forever’s Not Enough, originally composed and sung by Sarah Geronimo.
Truly a night to remember, the concert ended with an energized audience who sprang from their seats to dance to the song Manila, which Cecile and Sound of Manila’s Suzanne and Hermie, performed as a closing song.
The audience sang again…Hinahanap hanap kita Manila. Ang ingay mong kay sarap sa tainga, mga jeepney mong nagliliparan, mga babae mong nagagandahan. Manila, Manila I keep coming back to Manila…
Ah, Filipinos in New York went home after the concert, nostalgic still, but smiling with those old songs reminisced. (Photos by Troi Santos)