PEOPLE can easily fork four thousand bucks out of their pockets for an Anne Curtis or a Daniel Padilla concert, but they can hardly shell out a thousand pesos for a symphony orchestra concert, say at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Although still thriving, classical music has already lost the position it held on the local music scene, or to put it bluntly—people who prefer repetitive tunes and lyric believe that this genre is slowly dying in the Philippines.
For French-American conductor and music educator Olivier Ochanine, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra music director, classical music can thrive in the country with the support of institutions that genuinely care about reviving the interest of people in the relatively unpopular genre. He supports the idea of exposing young children to classical music at an early age because music appreciation has also something to do with experience.
“To listen to a 40-minute classical piece is difficult for someone who hasn’t had the experience before. It doesn’t mean that they won’t like, no, not necessarily,” said the PPO conductor.
At the media launch of the PPO 32nd Concert Season held at the CCP, Ochanine shared his thoughts on why classical music is generally unpopular among the mass, specifically to the young generation.
“Technology these days is causing people to have a very short attention span. That is really the essence of the problem. If you would listen to Taylor Swift, Anne Curtis or Daniel Padilla, you don’t have to think too much when listening to their songs. They are for entertainment… you’re asking for my opinion,” the US and UK educated conductor affirmed.
But Ochanine elaborated that entertainment has different meanings or different qualities. He furthered that there is a lazy form of entertainment where someone will just really sit, be entertained and not do anything else.
“What we present is entertainment but a different kind where we invite listeners to experience the music…for them to think or imagine. Every performance is different for that reason,” the PPO music director explained.
Since taking in charge of the PPO, Ochanine has been passionate about popularizing the genre to the young generation by staging concerts at unconventional venues including those areas other symphony groups hardly visit.
It is a solid testament that Ochanine is downright serious in his effort to bring change in the local classical music scene.
PPO’s opening salvo
Also at the press launch, Ochanine announced that the PPO’s concert season will open on Sept.12 with the country’s premier musical ensemble performing the works of Rachmaninoff and Rimsky-Korsakov. Albert Tiu, a Filipino pianist, returns to Manila to perform as guest soloist.
On Oct. 17, Herminigildo Ranera leads the PPO in performing works of Gershwin, Telemann and Borodin with trumpetist Rommel Reyes as guest soloist.
A program featuring works of Mozart, Haydn and Bartok takes place on Nov. 14, with oboist Reynato Resureccion Jr., clarinetist Ariel Sta. Ana, bassoonist Adolfo Mendoza and French horn player Jay-ar Mesa performing with the PPO.
On Dec. 19, American conductor Jeffery Meyer conducts the Orchestra in performing the outstanding pieces by Brahms, Stucky and Debussy.
At the Meralco Theater, works by Haydn, Liszt and Stravinsky usher the New Year on Jan. 23, 2015 with pianist Rowena Arrieta as guest soloist of the PPO under the baton of Maestro Olivier Ochanine.
The PPO performs at CCP on Feb.13 with Olivier Ochanine leading the orchestra in performing the works of Sibelius, Dvorak and Haydn. Pei-Sian Ng, principal cellist of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra is guest soloist.
Japanese conductor Yoshikazu Fukumura returns to lead the Orchestra on March 20, performing the works of Rossini, Haydn and Ravel.
The PPO closes the concert season on April 24 with a program featuring the works of Port, Buenaventura, Ravel and Respighi under the baton of Ochanine.
All concerts (except the Jan. 23 concert) will be staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) at 8 p.m.