Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) gleams golden with ‘Ginintuan’

(c) Roma Escaner

Jesuit Music Ministry’s (JMM) landmark celebration, “Ginintuan”:  Celebrating 50 Years of Jesuit Music”, dazzled audiences in a golden anniversary for the ages, last Saturday, July 13 at the Henry Lee Irwin Theater, Ateneo de Manila University.

The back-to-back matinee and gala concerts paying homage to the enduring musical legacy of the late Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, was a joyous gathering of the musical talents that have shaped the remarkable half-century journey of Jesuit music in the country. From acclaimed composer Fr.Manoling Francisco SJ, Vespers instrumentalists Jay Gomez and Gerry Duran, to the collection of sensational chorales Bukas Palad, Hangad, Himig Heswita, Koro Ilustrado, Pansol Choir, Tinig Barangka, the singing of beloved Jesuit classics such as “Tanging Yaman”“Sa Dapit Hapon” and“Anima Christi”, relived the same creative zeal and pioneering spirit of Fr.Hontiveros, regarded as the “Father of Philippine Liturgical Music”.

In an emotional tribute to the humble service of Tinig Barangka through the decades, Fr.Arnel Aquino awarded a plaque of appreciation to the longstanding pillars of the Marikina-based choir, drawing strong cheers from the gallery.

“Back in the 1970s, Tinig Barangka was one of the first choirs to sing Fr.Honti’s songs in the chapels of Marikina…us Jesuits would always rely on their help to sing for masses of ordination, first vows, Ignatian feasts, or even wake masses when our brothers were called home by God,” recounted the Jesuit composer. “Tinig Barangka has always been there for us. Though they have never produced a CD of their own, they continue to sing in and for the Church, selflessly, faithfully, cheerfully…”

Special guests Toto Sorioso and Yvette Parcon delighted patrons with their collaboration on “Pananatili”, while folk-rock artist Noel Cabangon brought the Irwin Theater crowd on its feet as they waved and sang in unison to his nationalistic hymn “Mabuting Pilipino”.

Now sitting as part of the Jesuit Communications Foundation (JesCom) board, Cabangon fondly recalled how it was JMM that gave a golden opportunity to his music career. “Noong kumakatok ako sa mga pinto ng mga record labels, ang JMM lang ang nagbukas ng pinto sa akin. Dahil sa JMM, nagkaroon ng bahay ang aking mga awitin tungkol sa buhay ng ordinaryong tao. Maraming salamat po sa pagiging parte ng journey na ito.”

Accompanied by house orchestra Musica Chiesa, OPM star and theater actress Bituin Escalante showcased her powerful vocals in a stunning rendition of “Gabing Kulimlim”. Meanwhile, 2017 Aliw Awardee for Best Classical Performer, soprano Lara Maigue, joined the evening’s guest of honor, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in a splendid duet of “Hesus na Aking Kapatid”.

 The Archbishop of Manila went on to praise the trailblazing work and humility of Fr.Hontiveros through an unforgettable anecdote.

Fr.Honti was rushing to go…ipinaturo niya yung bagong piesa (Hesus na aking Kapatid)…nang bumalik siya, nakita ko siya umiiyak in one corner. Sabi niya, ‘Paano ko nagawa ‘yan?’ How truly selfless was Fr.Honti. It was not music to prove something of himself, but just to contribute.”

“Fr.Honti was not only a talented person but also very prayerful. Sa music niya lumalabas yung kabutihan ng kanyang puso. He was such a good and saintly person,” continued Cardinal Tagle.

In his closing remarks, JesCom Executive Director, Fr.Nono Alfonso SJ underscored how Fr.Hontiveros’ revolutionary approach, forever transformed Philippine liturgical music and the faith of millions of Filipinos.  “With Vatican II and Fr.Honti, the mass and liturgical music were now in the vernacular. Suddenly, radically we could now talk to God in prayer and He spoke to us in our own language. This is the great contribution of Fr.Honti and Jesuit Music Ministry. With their music, our relationship with God has been truly enriched,” he affirmed.

“Their music has become the soundtrack in our spiritual life, and it is only right to be celebrating their 50 years of being instruments in the faith life of many…May you continue to help sustain our ministry, so we can continue to serve our Mother Church and God, for the next 50 years. Indeed, so we can sing forever.”