by Violeta M. Gloria
MindaNews | Tuesday, 25 August 2009 09:33
ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/24 August)—The Octava, resident choral group of Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology and the representative of Mindanao to a five-day International Choral Competition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) won two silvers and gold medals.
Professor Rhodora N. Englis, MSU-IIT campus secretary announced “the Octava won in all the three categories of the competition. They got two silvers and one gold.”
“This is something for Mindanawons to be proud of because the gold certificate is given only to those who have reached the international standards. There were five renowned judges of the competition, two of whom came from Europe and two from Asia,” she said.
Prof. Francisco Englis, director of the Octava and also an English professor at the university, said “the contest also graded the contestants and it can make us to the World Choir Olympic.”
“It was very challenging because we competed with UP and University of Santo Tomas (UST) choral groups. The latter has won as the world champion of Gregorian Chanting. But we love singing with them especially that we are the lone contestant from Mindanao allowed by CCP,” Englis said.
Octava sang Elijah Rock, a 16th century renaissance song.
They also sang Filipino folk songs such as Mamayug Akun, a Maranao courtship song; Dael, a Maguindanao song; and Si Filemon, a song that tells the life of small fisherfolk.
In the avant garde category, they sang “Goani—A long time ago”, a song that tells about the Maranao tribe who dwelt in peace and were later disturbed with conflicts that ended in a bloody war.
This was originally sang by Octava in 1983 and made them champion in a competition organized by former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
In this song, the choir magnificently accentuated the voices of playing children and the Muslims’ call to prayer with the chanting of “Allahuaakbar!,” a depiction of the tribe’s sunny lives. As the song sailed into its depths, the choir stomped their feet and occasionally clapped their hands to dramatize and reecho violence until their voices sank into sad wailings for the wounded and the dead.
Goani is composed by Englis himself and sourced from influences derived from Maranao music and rhythm.
“It’s a sound in some parts of Mindanao. It is still best for this Mindanao contingent to sing this from our heartfelt experiences,” he said.
The same song was sung by the UP Concert Chorus in an international competition where they won 1st place under the direction of the late Rey Paguio.
In the recent competition, Octava dedicated “Goani’ to Dr. Ramon Santos, a world-renowned Filipino composer whose major works have been performed in different countries.
Before the actual competition in Manila, Octava held a rehearsal cum critique for all their songs at MSU-IIT’s College of Education amphitheatre with former choir singers from other universities of the country, artists from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, students, teachers, city officials, religious leaders, and local artists as observers.
They got a standing ovation from the audience in that rehearsal. Viewers were later allowed to comment after their presentations to perfect the choir’s voices, movements, clothes, and stage projection.
Octava choir members are scholars of MSU-IIT. It is a resident choir of IIT along with other art groups such as IPAG, Kalimulan Cultural Group, and Echoes. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)