The director of Ang Misyon has asked me to conduct the Taytay Philharmonic, a youth orchestra in the Manila suburb of Taytay, in an upcoming concert celebrating their initiation into the greater Ang Misyon system. The El Sistema program in the Philippines mission plan is to make one main orchestra, the premiere group known as OFY (Orchestra of the Filipino Youth) and several affiliated satellites that act as a farm system to the main orchestra. The satellite orchestras produce their top talent to send to the main orchestra where they will further develop their skills, but all orchestras will be performing constantly allowing these young musicians to be well seasoned for the future. We have a good concert coming in November 10 and I will blog updates until then.
So far the first 2 rehearsals have been tough but strong. Personally, this is the first time I’ve conducted outside in a tropical country, not complaining but acknowledging this is a challenge. Above all, I try to emphasize good musicianship through flexibility and understanding.
I’m also trying to promote a thirst for music in these students. I want them to be able to listen to recordings after recordings of different works, sometimes even the same works by different performers. Eventually, their musical taste buds will be as meticulous as a fine wine aficionado. I want them to keep gnawing at the big cheese of the musical repertoire. When it comes to how to view practice, I preach the words a wise mentor once told me, “You don’t have to practice, you HAVE to practice.”
Paul Fontelo '13