CHRISTMAS, folk, and classical songs filled the lobby to the delight and entertainment of hotel guests and anyone who just happened to be passing by at the lobby of the Lim Ket Kai Luxe Hotel during the four night performances of the scholars from Lourdes College’ Marinela Neri Velez String Program last December 21 to 24, 2015.
An all sting orchestra, the performances featured the violin, viola, cello, and double bass.
“These kids have worked hard for the shows,” said Jerome de la Fuente, the general manager of Luxe Hotel. The performers, from grade 4 to college level, started to learn the music in September and had practices each Saturday since then.
“I wanted to showcase something different for Cagayan de Oro. I wanted to show that whatever you can see in Manila, you could also see it here in Cagayan. We want the Manila crowd to come here. We are the gateway to Northern Mindanao and so we have to play an active role. And also the kids, it’s Christmas. For me Christmas is always for the kids.”
“This is part of how we want to showcase Cagayan de Oro,” added Jerome. “Our platform here is to ensure that the city is in the forefront. Also, 2015 was very good for us in the last six months. We are gaining so much, it’s about time that we contribute to our community. And this is one of several projects we are undertaking, music development. We want to give these children an avenue to show their talents. It’s payback time.”
“It’s a very good exposure for them, it’s a very good experience for them to gain self confidence when they perform in public,” said Ana de la Fuente, the music coordinator for Lourdes College and the program head of The Marinela Neri Velez String Program.
The said program is a 10-year scholarship program designed to develop a symphony orchestra in Cagayan de Oro City. This is in partnership with the Manila Symphony Orchestra and generously funded by Marinela Neri Velez. The group is composed of junior and senior performers numbering 70 all in all with 34 performance during the nightly event at Luxe.
“We are doing this to develop these children,” Ana added, “Hopefully we can have NAMCYA winners because it’s always Metro Manila that dominates.” NAMCYA is the National Music Competitions for Young Artists, a separate program whose goal is to discover and develop young Filipino musicians from the various regions in the country through annual competitions, as well as trainings and workshops.
The program eventually plans to add students who can play wind and percussion instruments within the next few years.
“Eventually, in 10 years, we will have a symphony orchestra in Cagayan de Oro,” said Ana who also served as conductress during the said event.
Catherine Joy Baclayo, a 10-year-old grade 5 student who plays the violin, said that she was nervous and happy at the same time. “Many people were watching and listening to us. It was fun performing,” she said.
“I believe it is my passion,” said Ma. Charrisa Lou Luingas who plays the cello. She is a Music Education student and a scholar of the program. “It’s really wonderful to be able to perform in public.”
“As a musician, it is really fulfilling when you play in an orchestra. Being in an orchestra is not just about performing because you want to entertain the people but it’s also because you want to touch people’s lives, touch other people’s hearts through music,” said Charrisa adding, “It is the most important thing when you play.”
“Playing in an open place, especially if you play in an orchestra, is really difficult because the people cannot appreciate the music more profoundly due to the noise or the disturbances from the surroundings,” furthered Charrisa. “The lobby of the Luxe Hotel is really a nice venue for playing in an orchestra because it is quiet and the people can concentrate more on listening to us performing.”
Jerome also plans to do more for these scholars, “I want to give them a public audience. We can do full-blown concert, maybe next year. And hopefully we can bring them to Manila.” Aside from Marinela Neri Velez String Program, the hotel also sponsors the orphans and neglected children from the Balay Canossa.