The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra bested over 30 youth orchestras from 14 countries to claim the top spot in Austria’s most prestigious youth music festival.
The young orchestra won first place at the 12th Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. The Philippines participated in the festival for the first time in 2017 and won second place in the same competition last year.
After the MSJO performed their 25-minute presentation, which they played from memory, a member of the jury, Christoph Ehrenfellner from Austria, stood up and cited the warmth of their sound, including their movements on stage evoking the waves of the sea, something he said he and his fellow Austrians envy about the Philippines.
The concert group played “Dayo Dayo Kupita” by Nilo Alcala, Handog by Florante, Kruhay — a song based on an Iloilo folktale, and pieces from composers Mozart and Dvorak.
The 47-member orchestra, led by conductor Jeffrey Solares, violin and viola teacher Sara Maria Gonzales and cello teacher Arnold Josue, will perform again today (July 10) during the Gala Winners Concert at the Konzerthaus in Vienna.
Standard Insurance Group Chairman Ernesto Echauz, who had been supporting the group since 2017, is also part of the MSJO delegation along with 34 chaperones.
The group will continue their concert tour in Vienna, Venice, Florence and Rome until July 16 and will arrive back in the Philippines on July 17.
MSJO members include some of the most talented and accomplished young musicians from across the country, with some members currently studying as scholars from the Philippine High School for the Arts.
The youngest member aged 10 was recently accepted as a scholar in the prestigious Mozarteum school of music in Salzburg, Austria. Several more of its members also enjoy various forms of music scholarships in the country.
In 2017, the MSJO expanded from its 36 members to 48 by including the best students from the Manila Symphony Orchestra Academy and its partner institutions throughout the country.
Most of the orchestra members started playing music at very young age.
Despite their tender age, the MSJO is also tapped by the Manila Symphony Orchestra in some of its concerts as additional players, providing them even more opportunities to hone their talents. MSJO members are between nine and 21 years old.
By Juzel Danganan and Raymond dela Cruz for the Philippine News Agency