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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 31, 2018

Maestro Rodel Colmenar Prepares A Magical Musical Feast For The 20th Anniversary Grand Concert Of His Manila Philharmonic Orchestra

WE HAVE very few local music orchestras and definitely one of the most outstanding and durable is the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra of Rodel Colmenar, it music director and principal conductor. “The MPO is unique as its an all-Filipino orchestra owned by the artists who make decisions themselves about concert programs and other details,” says Rodel who had a private tete-a-tete with some members of the press for its glorious 20th anniversary concert of the MPO which he founded in 1998.

A UST music graduate majoring in French horn, he refined his studies under world renowned teachers in London and Belgium. He attended ASEAN Music Workshops Singapore and Thailand, then performed with the Kuala Lumpur Symphony Orchestra, Penang State Orchestra and Twilite Orchestra of Indonesia. He took conducting workshops with Kurt Masur of Germany, Jewan Sebastian Bereau of France and Pierro Gamba of Italy.

With the MPO, he has collaborated with many foreign classical artists as well as top local singers like Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Regine Velasquez, Jose Mari Chan, Lani Misalucha, and many more. His main aim is to bring symphonic music to the masses, especially to the younger generation of millennials.

He did this through concerts like Guess Philharmonic in Jeans which ran for seven years in different malls with a colorful and varied repertoire from Broadway to movie themes to jazz, rock, pop. The success in the Guess Jeans series sealed the MPO’s versatile reputation in giving top quality performances to a wide range of audience, proving that rock stars and Beethoven can co-exist.

The MPO also served as accompanying orchestra of stage musicals at Resorts World like “Sound of Music”, “King and I’’, “Cinderella”, “Bituing Walang Ningning” and the current hit “Ang Huling El Bimbo” based on the music of the Eraserheads which is always sold out so there will surely be reruns. What does he think is the reason for MPO’s durability in the local music scene?

“I think it’s our passion for music,” he says. “There are other orchestras financed by top companies with billions of pesos in funding, pero hindi nagtagal, simply because wala yung passion. Kami, walang sponsors, but after 20 years, we’re still here because we’re here not for the money but for sheer labor of love for music. Without that love, we won’t be able to maintain it.”

For its 20th year, the MPO is staging its grand anniversary concert “MPO Opus 20: Trailblazing Music Excellence” at the CCP Main Theatre on September 1, Saturday, with Lani Misalucha, top pianist Raul Sunico and the UST Singers as their special guests. After this, there will be more performances lined up for the rest of 2018 for the MPO to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Tickets to the concert are available at TicketWorld online at TicketWorld.com.ph or on the phone at 891-9999. You can also call the MPO office, 0917-547-8787 or email them at manilaphilharmonic@gmail.com.

Off stage, Rodel, who’s 58 years old, is married to pianist Marijo Colmenar, who acts as MPO’s operation in charge, and they have two sons, Rafael, 27, who’s creative director of Metro Magazine, and Ramon, 22, a violinist.