Manila Philharmonic Orchestra Opus 20: Celebrating musical excellence

I was late.

I carelessly read only the first part of the message which said: URGENT ADVISORY: We Regret to inform you that Ms. Lani Misaucha and couldn’t make it to our presscon today…In this light we are doing a last minute cancellation of the presscon—Cancelled, so I stopped reading.

It was only when I opened the message again that I realized that  Lani wasn’t going to be the only one at the presscon, and that she was a guest of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra which was going to have an upcoming concert and that Maestro Rodel Colmenar was still going to be at the venue…


I hurriedly dressed up, (left my laptop still plugged in) and rushed to the venue. I only had an hour and a half left  because color-coding wasn’t suspended, but I certainly wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to talk with the Maestro.

There were only a few other people left when I arrived at Romulo’s Café. I knew I looked stressed and even if I was a bit hungry I politely declined choosing to use the few minutes I have to talk to the head of one of the best orchestras in the country.


Just a quick intro about the Maestro. A Music Major graduate in French Horn from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, Rodel F. Colmenar made his name as the Founder and Music Director of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO).

He honed his French Horn playing under Filipino teacher, Leopoldo Lopez, Andre Van Driesse of Belgium and Timothy Brown of London. He was a prizewinner of numerous music competitions and held the principal post in the ASEAN Music Workshops held in Manila, Singapore and Thailand. He served as guest for the Kuala Lumpur Symphony Orchestra, the Penang State Orchestra of Malaysia, and the Twilite Orchestra of Indonesia and other orchestras in the Philippines. For 15 years, he held the principal position of the horn section of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a conductor, he was significantly involved in the Kurt Masur Conducting Workshop in Detmold, Germany, and in the master classes of French Conductor Jean Sebastian Bereau and Pierro Gamba of Italy.

In 1998, he founded the MPO which marked the start of his conducting career. As a conductor, he collaborated with several outstanding local and foreign classical artists such as French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, French soprano Corrigne Sertillagnes, Romanian violinist Alexandru Tomescu, Korean tenor Greg Yoon, Filipino pianist Cecile Licad, Russian violinist Anastasia Chebotareva, French violinist Nemanja Radulovi and well-known Filipino singers like Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Regine Velasquez, Lani Misalucha, Tanya Manalang and Mig Ayesa just to name a few. This prestigious roster would not be complete without mentioning that the MPO also accompanied the famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in a series of concerts here in Manila and in other Asian countries.


“Maestro Rodel Colmenar” I read his name out loud, “Tama po?” I felt dumb asking as he took a seat beside me. I took a gulp coz I felt nervous.  I’ve done a lot of interviews, but it was my first time to interview a conductor of his caliber—it was my first time to interview a Maestro– period.

I shook his hand and apologized again for being late as I introduced myself.  I had read about him from a few articles, but I always had this impression that music conductors were always serious and very strict—because—have you ever watched their hand movements and the way they control all those musicians?

I asked him what we could expect from their concert thinking of some other questions as I quickly combed  through the press release that was given to me just a minute ago.

“One we have a 100-piece orchestra and we also have this big band—the Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble type—which is 20 piece and then we have a 30 piece choir from UST plus Lani Misalucha.”

My jaw dropped. That’s a 150 people on stage at the same time. Talk about a grand performance.

Titled MPO Opus 20: Trailblazing Music Excellence, the concert chronicles MPO’s history of achievements through highlights from past performances.

“There is a wealth of memorable repertoire attached to every milestone in our colorful career and that is what we hope to bring to our audience during the night’s performance. We promise to give them a grand time as they walk down memory lane with us.”

“The whole program is going to tell the story of the orchestra. We are going to have a medley of musicals that we already did. If you remember we were part of most of the musicals at Resorts World—Sound of music, The King and I, Chitty Chitty Bangbang and Annie. And I invited the kids from Annie to perform with us because this year their musicals don’t feature kids. So I invited them to our concerts.”

Another big production he mentioned was the “Queen Medley” with the Queen Lani Misalucha with the entire orchestra, the big band and the choir.

What were their most memorable performances?

“I think it was the one we did with Andrea Bocelli, because after his concert in Manila, he brought us to HongKong and Singapore. Another was in 2013, when we were invited to Japan for the Asia Orchestra Week as one of the performers.

I asked the Maestro the age range of the members of the MOP and he said the youngest was 22 and the more senior ones in their mid to late 30’s.

So how was it dealing with different generations throughout the past 20 years?

He said he had to make some adjustments especially when you have millennials who take it easy and the older members who are really committed and serious. But the moment they start playing, all those differences disappear and you could just sense the passion each of them have for music.

The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) under the baton of its founder and musical director, Maestro Rodel Colmenar, celebrates its 20th anniversary with a grand concert performance at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, Cultural Center of the Philippines on Sept. 1, 2018 at 8 pm.

Reminiscing its beautiful historical musical journey, MPO will perform great classical works of composers like Beethoven and Gershwin that have defined the early and humble beginnings of the orchestra during the first part of the show. Featured in this segment is special guest artist Dean Raul Sunico.

The second half will highlight how MPO has evolved into an orchestra that has become more relevant and instrumental in bringing symphonic music closer to the hearts of the Filipino people. Having pioneered in out-of-the-box ideas like the “Philharmonic in Jeans” concert series way back in the early 20005, the orchestra will render classical pieces with a modern twist. This is some kind of a tribute to Guess Philharmonic in leans Mall Concert Series.

There will be a portion that will also give prominence to the orchestra’s current spirited involvement in the local musical theater and concert scenes. The kids of musical theater will perform excerpts from “Annie” and a surprise pop number for their second song. UST Singers will be featured in a George Canseco medley ~ MPO’s tribute to 0PM Classic.

Not to be missed is the debut concert performance of MPO’s very own big band with Ms. Lani Misalucha. Lani will give life to the timeless rock songs of Queen to be highlighted in a grand production number with the big band, along with the UST Singers.

The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra performs under the baton of its Founder and Music Director Maestro Rode] Colmenar. Stage direction is by Direk Freddie Santos.

Tickets to “MPO Opus 20: Trailblazing Music Excellence” are available at TicketWorld Outlets and, (02) 891-9999. For inquiries, contact MPO office at 0917-5478787, 0917-576-2502, [email protected] or through our Instagram account, @manilaphilharmonic.

Cross-border trade to accelerate expansion opportunities for Filipino SMEs says PayPal

Is Vivo preparing for a new smartphone?