This is My Psychosis
Recently, we had a visit from one of our musical director’s protege, “Kuya” Harold Dioquino . He brought with him a very nice distinguished guy all the way from Florida, Gordon Roberts. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the Juilliard School of Music and has had a successful international career as conductor, accompanist and television personality. They are both currently handling and directing the Gay Men’s Chorus of Florida.
It was an exciting experience for Songspell since we practically were having celebrities coming for rehearsals. Tita Nelly Castro, our musical director, charged me to come up with a repertoire to present to our guests when they arrive that Saturday afternoon. It was a bit tricky since we only had around 2 to 3 hours to practice a 30-45 minute mini-show.
Tita Nelly and I decided to do a dance number and a couple of show tunes to be performed by our youngest and eldest members. Since Kuya Harold had been part of a the first ever Les Miserables production here in Davao many years ago, I saw it fitting to present him excerpts from the hit musical. We did three songs from the play -which also served as our final 3 numbers. I sang “I Dreamed a Dream” (I was particularly dismayed since I had to sing with coughs and colds -LOL) and Francis Orias -our best Tenor sang “Bring Him Home” and we capped it off with our ever nostalgic One Day More. The rest of the repertoire consisted of songs from different broadway plays.
We really were pressed for time as we also had to do our regular rehearsals but thank God, we were able to pull it off on such a short notice. And so, our guests finally arrived with Kuya Greg -one of Davao’s best pianist and a student of Tita Nelly. The kids were a bit rowdy, so after calling a company call, introductions were underway. I could sense that most of my babies (the young ones and the young “once”) were a bit nervous while others seemed to have no-clue as to how magnanimous this moment was for us.
The mini-show went underway lead by Songspell’s top soloists and veterans. It was an afternoon of musical delight. Our performers showcased their talents, especially our Bea Castro -who can do amazing things with her eyes, body and voice. Finally, as the last strains of One Day More faded in the background, everyone waited silently and nervously for Mr. Roberts’ and Mr. Dioquino’s comments. Tita Brigitte Ansaldo requested Mr. Gordon Roberts to say something.
He stood up and I could see the look of anticipation from some of the older members -we were all waiting for constructive criticism and anything that can help us improve. But what he told us absolutely sent all our hearts a flutter. His first word was “Wow!” And in that one word alone, my heart felt like it would burst into a million pieces all wearing a giddy smile. He then continued with “I don’t know what else to say…you guys are amazing” He was really and genuinely floored and in awe of that rough, mini-show we presented. He said it in a way that you cannot mistake its sincerity and honesty. I was also happy and humbled when he said that Songspell has good mentors because I know that Tita Nelly is probably one of the greatest mentors there is and I am proud to say that I am a product of hers! (A request for an encore followed underway where in we performed our version of Charice’s Dahil Tayo’y Pilipino)
Kuya Harold even sent us all to the moon when he said to Tita Nelly that out of all the groups he saw in Davao, Songspell was really the cream of the crop. He enjoyed us immensely and was amazed that our performers were fearless! Mr. Roberts took the time to speak to some of our older and younger performers as well. It was really such a humbling and heart warming experience. We are all genuinely delighted that there was not a single negative comment -not even for the sake of being constructive!
Later, Gordon and I had some time to talk one on one with Francis Orias and he told us a lot of fascinating things about music and performing. I was extremely pleased when he said that I should not change anything about how we are training these Songspell kids because we are on the right track. He could not believe what he saw and how he felt when we were singing. Even the youngest singer touched his heart with the way they performed their songs. He was not sure whether they were parroting somebody (to which I replied that they were not because in Songspell, we train everyone, especially our soloists, to make the song their own) but for sure, he felt how genuine we all felt towards each song. We were making music!
There were other great things both of them shared to all of us and we are still on a high about it. I cannot stop feeling really great and blessed. Kuya Harold and Gordon Roberts have really inspired us to push more and develop more. Their words were really special to us because we know that they too are great performers and musicians. Songspell was not just out to impress but also to learn and get feedback from people who have experienced the world of music at a different level. I know most of the kids were too young to understand any of it but for sure, the older members and the production team as well as other parents who were present knew just how valuable and significant those words were. And as the assistant musical director of Songspell, I felt really happy that the parents got to hear those words as well because I know in Songspell, we have a very different and diverse way of training.
All in all, we loved performing for them. We love performing. It is always such a joy in our hearts to sing for people and to find out that we have left an imprint of us in their hearts. We were not expecting anything that touching and inspiring that is why we were such in a good state after.
Do not get me wrong – I have always believed and have been always confident with the quality of my Songspell babies when it comes to performance. We were trained by our formidable Tita Nelly after all. But from time to time, it is such a good affirmation to hear words from people who know what they are talking about; people who you know will not hesitate when it comes to telling you whether you suck or you did something really great. Most especially, people who have studied and experienced music in every form.
That Saturday afternoon is going to be one of the highlights of my Songspell career. I will not forget how I felt and how it inspired me to really stick it out for Songspell and make sacrifices; to continue the legacy and keep on the right track of developing and honing the talents of Davao performers. God knows it is never the easiest of tasks but I know that I have the heart to do it and with the help of such wonderful cast mates and mentors, we can continue making the Songspell Foundation Inc. quality of performers and performances.
Thank you very much Mr. Roberts and Mr. Dioquino for spending that afternoon with us and for letting us share a part of our passion to you. Thank you for your inspiring and kind words which we will surely go back to whenever we feel like it’s going to be a rough rehearsal or a challenging show.