Tuesday, February 26, 2019

El Bohemio at the
44th Bamboo Organ Festival


      Well I just realize that the the Bamboo Organ Festival is as old as I am haha!   Though the instrument existed since 1824, parts of it was finally brought back from Germany for repairs in 1975. And since then every year the Las Piñeros celebrated the restoration of their organ, which was made National Cultural Treasure in 2003. The Bamboo Organ Festival is actually the longest-running annual international music festival in the country.


    This is actually the first time I ever attended the festival.  I have been hearing about the bamboo organ and its festival since the turn of the millennium but I didn't have the means to see it. To think that Las Piñas City is just a neighbor to my city (Muntinlupa). Well the church is about 9 kilometers from home hehe not too close either. Well now after years of missing the event, for various reasons such as forgetfulness and beezeeness, I finally took the time buy tickets online and ride my motorcycle to the St. Joseph Parish Church.



      I went on a Sunday night when a repeat performance of the Magnificat is scheduled. The performance was at 8 PM. I came too early, like an hour early and I'm glad because I was able to watch a series of delightful folk dances. Too bad my cam is not powerful enough to make good shots of every dance number to show all the elaborate costumes!


      So yeah, behind me is the one and only bamboo organ. Completed in 1824. It has 1,031 pipes and 902 of them are made bamboo.


     So every year in February the church is made into a concert hall. A stage is built beneath the organ, just behind the main door of the church, and pews are replaced with individual chairs for audience seating.
    This year, J.S. Bach's Magnificat was performed and it was well delivered under the baton of Beverly Shankuan-Cheng, conducting the Manila Baroque Ensemble (Christian Tan, concertmaster) and the Villancico Vocal Ensemble, Manu Mellaerts (Trumpet, Belgium), Stefanie Quintin and Sherla Najera (sopranos), Michelle Mariposa (alto) Irvin Lumauag (tenor) Christopher Arceo (bass) and Armando Salarza (organ).
   Also on the program are compositions by Bruna, Buxtehude and Charpentier.
 
  The performance lasted about less than 2 hours and it was an awesome experience! I was seated just about 3 meters away from the nearest violinist. How much does it cost to sit that close to the performers? Just Php 600. It's so... bohemian! Haha!


     Yup. The Bamboo Organ Foundation brings to us world class performances for quite an affordable fee. They provide a venue for our local classical musicians and contribute in keeping the younger generation interested in classical music. If your taste in music is eclectic and you can spend tens of thousands of Pesos to watch your favorite pop star or band, then my goodness what's 600 Pesos just to hear live music by Bach, Mozart, or your favorite classical composer right? Hihi!
      So yeah, go see performances in the Bamboo Organ Festival, bring the entire family or your squad, or buy a CD or two of recordings from previous performances, and maybe go to a Bamboo Organ Tour.



 
 
     If you haven't experienced being at a Bamboo Organ Festival, here's a YouTube video by Associated Press to entice you. The dude you see on the cover, by the way, is Prof. Amando Salarza who, since 1992, has been the titular organist of the Bamboo Organ and the Artistic Director or the BOF.


The Church

      Equally important as the Bamboo Organ is the church that houses it. The construction of The St. Joseph Parish, also known as the Las Piñas Church, also Bamboo Organ Church, was completed in 1819.


     The man behind this remarkable structure and the remarkable instrument inside it was an equally remarkable Spanish priest named Padre Diego Cera. He was the architect of the church and the organ. In fact he also designed the organs of the Manila Cathedral and of the San Nicolas Tolentino Chapel inside Intramuros. He too was an organist and also a natural scientist, chemist, and a community leader.
     The photo above is a statue of the talented priest looking at the church while holding the architectural drawings. And with him are two Las Piñeros representing the townsfolk who loved him and helped him build the church using local materials such as adobe and bamboo which was quite abundant in the area.
    I imagine Padre Cera seeing tall bamboo shafts growing in the wild and said, "hey, they look like pipe organs. Hmmmm..." LOL






       So bamboo is very much present in the church's interior. You will see that the ceiling is made of bamboo strips. The big chandeliers are also made of bamboo with capiz shell lamps. Oh did I mention that the organ is made of bamboo too? Haha!

      Well I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Believe me, I was playing my pipe organ playlist on Spotify while doing this. ^_^

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