Mangá Pakalagián (Ceremonies)
Los Angeles Master Chorale (Grant Gershon, Artistic Director)
Danongan Danny Kalanduyan
Walt Disney Concert Hall
November 15, 2015
Photos by Rick Gavino, Ding Carreon, and Alexandra Lee Nurthen (ALN Images).
REVIEW - Lauri D. Goldenhersh
The final work, Mangá Pakalagián (“Ceremonies”) by Nilo Alcala, drew elements from the composer’s own heritage, and was performed with Subla, a kulintang ensemble playing percussive instruments specific to Filipino culture, and featuring Guro Danongan “Danny” S. Kalanduyan, mastering of the kulintang, which, as the central focus of the instruments, is a brightly decorated stand that holds eight small gongs. Several of us were surprised to hear from maestro Gershon that this was the choir’s first time singing in Tagalog (actually the Maguindanao dialect), which can be a challenge for English-speaking tongues. This world-premiere piece is divided into three ritual movements, each starting with a very tribal/primal improvisation as a sample of each of the ceremonial styles. (I strongly recommend you read through Thomas May’s excellent program notes, as he did a wonderful job of explaining how this complex piece was created and fits together.) The choir enters with lightning-fast delivery and a devilish line, the singers’ efforts more visible than usual. This piece is a stretch, even for this normally unfazeable clan. Sal Malaki, consistently one of the best tenors on the local landscape, was well-matched by fellow soloist Ayana Haviv, who sounds better than ever. While the chorus became a blanket of percussive vocals, the featured solos were the human spirit of the first movement.
Alcala’s second movement lets the male singers hit things too, as they clack rocks together, stomp feet and the choir builds layer upon layer of chant, creating the effect of many voices, many conversations. Soprano soloist Hayden Eberhart sailed through the stratosphere, and there was no stopping the general expression of toe-tapping gratitude. Moving on to the finale, baritone Abdiel Gonzalez seemed especially “on” this evening, stretching his range and often dwelling on the nether notes. Through slides, shakes and exclamations, his voice was sure, with rich and vibrant sound, even through voiced hums, grunts and more. The choir, too, had special vocal techniques to tackle here, which sounded surprisingly organic to the same versatile crop of singers who have mastered Renaissance purity and Verdian majesty so thoroughly. Improvised mutterings and broad chords were powerful enough to rival Carmina burana, bringing the power of ritual to one of the world’s least staid concert halls. There is a communal quality to this work that is spectacularly engaging, clear through to a full-throttle, eye-popping finale.
Composer Nilo Alcala’s concert finale earned a well-deserved standing ovation.
FULL REVIEW at: http://laurislist.net/blog/2015/11/made-in-l-a-local-focus-reveals-the-heart-of-la-master-chorale/#sthash.vzJfg5Bs.dpuf
REVIEW - Leticia Marie Sanchez
The program concluded with the world premiere of Nilo Alcala’s Manga Pakalagian an exuberant and at times hypnotic choral suite. The piece, which marked the first time that the LA Master Chorale sang in Tagalog (Maguindanao), contained traditional music from the Southern Philippines, Kulintang, which dates back over a thousand years.
FULL REVIEW at: http://culturalcocktailhour.com/review-made-in-l-a-by-los-angeles-master-chorale/5037/
REVIEW - Ahdda Shur
Closing out the evening was an extraordinary work, a world Premiere of "Manga Pakalagian (Ceremonies). This was an important LA debut of an LA Based Philippine composer, Nilo Alcala, who wrote a 22 minute choral and instrumental work, incorporating a traditional Philippine ensemble specializing in religious and ceremonial and percussion work. The chorale sang in the language of Tagalog, with fantastic clarity and conviction. The power of folk music when harnessed into a creative genius such as Bela Bartok, Stravinsky, Janacek - elevates and inspires us all. Bravo to Alcala!
FEATURE - Ruben Nepales
Proud moment for me as a Pinoy tonight (Nov. 15) at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles!
Composer Nilo Alcala received standing ovation and enthusiastic cheers for several minutes at the end of his composition, "Manga Pakalagian (Ceremonies)."
The celebrated interiors of the Frank Gehry-designed concert hall reverberated with Nilo's music and Maguindanaon lyrics (the Grammy winning Los Angeles Master Choral sang in a Filipino dialect--Maguindanaon--for the first time), and the sounds of the Subla Kulintang Ensemble and Guro Danongan "Danny" S. Kalanduyan, the solo voices of Sal Malaki (the Filipino member of LA Master Chorale), Ayana Haviv and Abdiel Gonzalez.
Nilo, a UP alumnus who sang with and composed for the Philippine Madrigal Singers, was one of the LA-based chorale composers featured in the concert titled, "Made in L.A." His composition was the night's finale.
Bravo to Nilo, all the featured composers, LA Master Chorale and its conductor and artistic director, Grant Gershon, soloists Sal Malaki (Filipino member of the acclaimed chorale), Subla Kulintang Ensemble and Guro Danongan "Danny" S. Kalanduyan.
Read my column on Nilo published before this concert:
FEATURE - Prosy Dela Cruz
...when “Mangá Pakalagián” was sung by the LAMC, I felt goosebumps and tears of pride that a fellow kababayan, Nilo Alcala, made it to a world stage with his creative pieces. -
It was a beautiful night of inclusiveness, of bounce, of rhythm, of innovative synergies fit for royalties of the Maguindanao region, and those around the world.
See more at: http://asianjournal.com/lifestyle/triumphant-nilo-alcala-on-world-acclaimed-walt-disney-hall/#sthash.YvKOHDaX.dpuf
Also at: http://asianjournal.com/aj-magazines/nilo-alcala-an-emissary-for-music/
Extended standing ovation for 'Mangá Pakalagian'.