That musical touch

IF YOU’VE attended some social events in Cebu City, then you must have caught wind of musical duo John Walt and Axel Bordario on more than one occasion. Looking dapper in crisp suits and bow ties (“Our mother’s very strict with our attire,” Axel pointed out), Axel sings while John Walt plays the saxophone.

Growing up with the love for music, they’ve been at this for as long as they can remember. John Walt learned to play the saxophone when he was 12 and Axel started singing at a very early age. But it was a company Christmas party they did back in 2007 that set the whole thing in motion.

By 2009, they had met well-known wedding coordinator Marites Villanueva after performing at her daughter’s debut. To them, she paved the way for a much bigger audience that got them booked from April that year until January the next. Word spread and 10 years later, they remain one of the city’s coveted performers covering songs from classic ballads to today’s latest hits for weddings, Christmas parties, birthday parties and many other functions and even those outside the country.

There have been a lot of memorable performances. Apart from an intimate New Year’s Eve celebration, they did a number at a funeral that immediately turned into a lively celebration. With their sophisticated musical stylings and “jazzy” vibe, it’s no surprise the bookings keep on coming—even as early as two years ahead of schedule.

Outside the musical duo, both have been a part of The New Life Sounds Choir for many years now, joining the children’s counterpart then to the adult group. John Walt has been a part of the worship team for 16 years—both of which are by Maranatha Christian Fellowship. Other than that, they’ve ventured into different interests: John Walt is an on-call fire volunteer and financial advisor, while Axel is a blogger and social media manager of C.U.R.E. Foundation Philippines, an organization that protects children from sexual abuse.

Though they’ve had years of experience, both continuously strive to be better by learning from those they’ve worked with and those they consider their mentors. Apart from Junnie Tampos whom they consider one of their mentors from the start, John Walt considers Kenny G as his mentor, learning from the legend by watching his videos. Little did he know he was not only going to watch him perform but also meet him backstage.

“I really enjoyed performing backstage for just a short time with Kenny G last April,” he said. “My goal was to have my saxophone signed. I was assembling it when I saw him. We said ‘hi.’ I played for a while and he signed my CD of his ‘Silhouette’ album,” he shared.

Both also make sure to improve themselves by practicing and working hard to be better than their last performance. “Every performance is always nerve-racking. But of course you have to compose yourself and do what you do professionally,” said Axel. “The performance sounds better if you’re not only in good condition physically but also mentally,” said John Walt.

While these two perform together, they don’t practice together as both shared that they run at their own pace. But that’s the beauty of performing with your sibling. “It’s an advantage because you know each other’s quirks like how well they do stuff, his skills. Throughout the years, I just know the riffs because I know how he breathes. I know the tiniest subtleties but it’s very annoying sometimes,” Axel said.

“Sometimes it is annoying because when I make a mistake, he cocks his head. Or sometimes when he makes a mistake, he adlibs which I can’t do—so I end up making a mistake,” John Walt quipped.

“Between the two of us, I’m more of the perfectionist so at the slightest mistake, it’s a pet peeve for me. He’s the more happy-go-lucky type,” said Axel laughing.

Despite their growing success, both brothers remain humble and ever thankful, treasuring what they consider God’s blessing. “I really have this belief that my voice has a higher purpose than letting them enjoy but if that’s their reaction to our performance, I’m thankful,” said Axel. “There’s a higher purpose to what I’m singing. It’s talent but when you use it to build up His people, your brethren, that’s when it becomes a gift.”
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