It was a gloomy and rainy night last August 1, but the music was warm at the Church of the Gesu with the singing from the Ateneo Chamber Singers (ACS). The ACS, composed mostly of alumni of the Ateneo Glee Club, were declared Champions of the Musica Sacra Acapella at the World Choir Games held in Riga, Latvia last 2014. This year, a sacred concert entitled “SALMO” marked the choir’s 13th year anniversary. The repertoire featured Psalms by various composers across different musical periods.
To commence, ACS conductor Jonathan Velasco took a few minutes to teach the audience the chorus parts of some of the songs. The concert proper then began with a procession by the choir from the back of the Church, while two ladies sang a Pasion in true traditional Filipino style. The choir then began their first song “Si Yahweh ang Aking Pastol,” (Ps 23) an original composition by Francisco Feliciano. The lyrics and the musical notes were flashed on two walls of the Gesu for everybody to read. As this was one of the songs that Jonathan Velasco taught the audience, the whole Church resonated in singing the Psalm.
The ACS also did something very different this year. In between singing each psalm, readers came up to read poetry for further reflection. The next psalm was Miserere (Ps 128) by Gregorio Allegri. The classical composition featured, apart from the main choir, a group of male singers singing in Gregorian chant style on the right side of the Church as well as a quartet on the left. Other psalms sung included Schaffe in Mir Gott (Ps 51) by Johannes Brahms, Salmo 150 by Ernani Aguiar, As the Deer (Ps 42), Jubilate Deo (Ps 100) by Ko Mastushita, Psalm 128 by Ryan Cayabyab, and The Lord is My Shepherd (Ps 23) by Joel Navarro.
The concert also featured a solo performance of “A Simple Song” (Ps 121). The beautiful work of Leonard Bernstein was sung soulfully by tenor Ervin Lumauag, with Lucie Magalit on piano. The ACS also shared the stage with Noel Cabangon. The premiere of an original composition by Arnel de Pano entitled “Salita Mo, o Yahweh” (Awit 119) had Noel Cabangon singing the solo with his guitar while the ACS sang back-up.
The ACS concert ended with the beautiful “How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place” (Ps 84). Once again, the song’s lyrics and score were flashed in front of the audience, getting the entire Church of the Gesu singing in beautiful unison.