• Jonathan Shaw

"Return to Manila" - BIMCC #9 (20-21st July 2018)

This blog series details my experiences as a composer-fellow for the "2018 Banaue International Music Composition Competition" ("BIMCC")dedicated to the efforts of the "Banaue Rice Terraces Restoration Project".

For the full blog series, click here.

The voting was terrifically difficult, but had to be done! The results were to be announced some time later the next day.

The Voting Sheet

And when that day came, it became increasingly sad realizing this was to be our last day up in Banaue; we were to depart for Manila in the evening. But before then, we participated in two further workshops given by two of the judges of the semi-finals.

Dr. Chong Kee Yong gave us an interesting insight into his life as a composer; detailing his origins in Asia and his juggling of Eastern and Western musics. Dr.Verne de la Peña spoke on the life of the renowned Filipino composer José Maceda (1917-2004) and his intriguing music for enormous ensembles, such as his "Cassette 100" for 100 cassette players (or in this modern example, 100 MP3 players).

Instantly at the end of the 2nd workshop, leaving no time for anxiety, the tallying was completed and the 10 finalists to be performed in concert were announced.

  1. Jem Robert Talaroc - "Kabunyan"

  2. Eteri Kourbanov - "Hymn to Nature"

  3. Jonathan Shaw - "The Hills of Banaue"

  4. Miran Tsalikian - "Crossing the Rice Terraces"

  5. Alessandra Salvati - "Hudhud"

  6. Joshua Ansale - "Tugtugin para sa mga Supling ng Pinagsapin-saping Lupa"

  7. Leon Firšt - "The Story of Ifugao"

  8. Avner Finburg - "Pugaw"

  9. Caterina di Cecca - From Wonder into Wonder: Green Steps to the Sky"

  10. Charlie McCarron - "Balitúk: The Divided Child"

It was a surprise indeed! After my terrible waffling and nonsensical direction that I gave the orchestra during the open rehearsal, I had accepted I was not going to be a finalist. Though of course, like a child visiting Disney World, I was ecstatic at the announcement - my first orchestral premiere!

Fueled with excitement, I went out and splurged on a set of traditional Ifugao gongs for ₱23,000 (~$300) - a mighty spend!

Buying a set of traditional Ifugao gongs

With a free bag

As my composition utilized the gongs, I decided it would be crucial to own a set should the work be honored to receive any future performances elsewhere, in which I could supply and teach the technique of these unique instruments.

Later that evening, we had our last dinner at the Banaue Hotel, all packed up and ready to depart on a night bus to Manila. Ah, Banaue, until we meet again!

Aboard the Night Bus

Traveling through the night, the roads were heavily flooded due to a battering of tropical storms in the midst of the ongoing typhoon season. By morning, we made our first stop for breakfast before continuing on to Manila.

A Morning Pit Stop

And eventually, we arrived at our final hotel - the living and breathing "Hotel Jen".

The Hotel Jen, Manila

It... it speaks?!

The Room

Views from the top

The only event scheduled for today was our participation at Christine Allado's birthday concert at the "Okada Hotel" in the evening. So what to do in our free time until then? Explore!

Well, as much as our night bus sleep-deprived bodies could allow! I had also the misfortune of a lovely sore throat (which lowered my voice a few tones and fulfilled my lifelong dream of singing as a bass). Nevertheless, throat singing aside, a few of us traversed the busy Manila streets to the "Cultural Center of the Philippines" - the location of the finals concert on the 25th July.

The Cultural Center from Above

And Below

It was an impressive and lavish venue (where the performance of Maceda's "Cassette 100" took place in the linked video above) with ongoing art installations, shops and an acoustically-engineered stage. If I wasn't already eagerly awaiting the concert, I certainly was now!

And that was the extent of my explorations for the day; I had to sneak in a quick doze before we left for dinner and Allado's show. The dinner itself was at the exotic "China Blue" of the "Conrad Hotel", complete with an assortment of meals arranged on a slowly revolving table.

Knights of the Revolving Table

And then we were off to Okada Hotel for Christine Allado's birthday concert where the composer-fellows were to make an appearance for the benefit of the "Banaue Rice Terraces Restoration Project".

The Best Exotic Okada Hotel

The Allado Show

Composer-Fellows with Dr. How and Allado

And to the sound of the Ifugao gong, we introduced ourselves on stage in a brief segment dedicated to the restoration efforts (of course, one of the few things I couldn't record!) and thus ended the day.

On returning to the Hotel Jen, I dropped to sleep swiftly, ready to redeem my previous rehearsal blundering for when the final rehearsals begin.

Next blog post - "Final Rehearsals" (22 - 24th July 2018)

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