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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Shaw

"The Concert" - BIMCC #11 (25th 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.


With the concert planned for 17:00, we had some free time in the morning to explore Manila. And what better to do than some quick shopping!


Shopping at the "SM Mall of Asia"


But anyway, this blog isn't about shopping. Skip!


The Concert Ticket

Cultural Center of the Philippines Lobby

Composer Smart Dress (it does exist)

The Readied Stage

Hey, I found a doppelgänger


And thus, the concert begins! The culmination of over 2 weeks' worth of preparation.

A 3-hour feast of symphonic music, the 10 compositions were divided into two sets of 5, with an interval in between. I was very interested to see what the public reaction would be to the event and how it may inspire others to take action. To hope that some of those in attendance will become interested in the Banaue culture themselves, that they will consider supporting the restoration efforts, or that they may be inspired to pursue music just a little further, is a primary goal of the competition, and so I was hopeful to see if it sparked any inspiration.

Of course, I was also equal parts anxious and excited to see the response to my own music, which hitherto I had only heard comments from a few colleagues. This was the first time my music was presented to a large public audience, and as noted, my very first orchestral premiere. Here it is:


The Running Order

A snippet of interview before each performance

"The Hills of Banaue" (Premiere)

Have a listen to the other finalists!

(Updated as more are published!)

  1. Jem Robert Talaroc - "Kabunyan"

  2. Eteri Kourbanov - "Hymn to Nature"

  3. Jonathan Shaw - "The Hills of Banaue" (see above)

  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


Ahhhh, too many emotions!

There is a powerful sensation at work upon hearing your own music being performed - a colourful, alternating blend of excitement and anxiety - stress and pleasure - that altogether create a swirling soup of flavours constantly battling for your taste; you are excited that your creation has come to life, but are terrified for the segments that will be diminished by unavoidable human error (both on my part as a composer, and the performers).

I have certainly identified passages that will need to be adjusted should this piece ever be fortunate enough to receive another performance; some dynamic balance for the woodwind melodic lines of the "Morning" and "Afternoon" sections, re-orchestrations of the brass passages in the "Evening" section (lest the brass may need to be equipped with oxygen tanks), and more specific methods of producing the percussive rhythms beginning the "Afternoon" section.

Nevertheless, the premiere was easily the best rendition of the work yet - well done orchestra! And as my piece was 3rd in the program, I had the unexpected pleasure of chatting to audience members during the interval; hearing positive comments, discussing the intention behind certain passages, chatting with budding composers and performers, taking photos and signing souvenir booklets (apologies for the makeshift signature!). This pleasant opportunity came again at the end of the second part of the concert, and then it was time to announce the winners - no time for suspense!

And I regret not betting money on this; the grand prize winner was the powerful and incredibly well orchestrated:

Leon Firšt - "The Story of Ifugao"

And the two runners up ("Aning Ginto Awardees"):

Alessandra Salvati - "Hudhud"

Jem Robert Talaroc - "Kabunyan"

Many congratulations to the winners, and well-deserved!

Phewf! What an event! But it is not quite over yet. After the concert finished around 22:00 in the evening, we all went out for a modern cuisine dinner at the "Gallery" by Chele, eating what I can only describe as exquisite avant-garde food.


Our Courses

And some of the extravagant servings


Many intriguing dishes on offer! We were also joined by the 4th and final judge who had flown in just for the day, the vice-president of the Japan Federation of Composers, Dr. Isao Matsushita, who tragically and unexpectedly passed away this September.

We returned to the Hotel Jen around the late hour of 03:00, exhausted and still brimming with the adrenaline of the final concert. Tomorrow would be our last full day together, during which we would partake in a tour of Manila before the depressing day of departures was upon us.


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