JR at the The Philippine Rondalla Festival: Many Strings, One Nation
The more than three centuries of Spanish colonization have marked Philippine society and culture, from architecture to music. An example of this is the Filipino rondalla, an ensemble of stringed instruments that are played using the plectrum or pick, all made from locally available materials like tortoise shell and indigenous wood.
The Philippine Rondalla Festival, taking place 6-8 November, gathers the best Philippine rondalla ensembles as well as plucked string ensembles from around the world. This year’s festival featured 250 participants from 12 countries under a ‘Strings of Unity’ theme emphasizing the importance of music in forging camaraderie between communities and countries, and working towards peace through musical cooperations.
Initially, Jacob was invited to play at the festival with the Naya Baroccade ensemble and Yaniv D’or performing Latino Ladino program. The group was warmly welcomed with an honorary dance performance and many interesting local cultural experiences. Very soon after the meeting with other players and the initial program, the interest in Jacob’s mandolin grew further as Philippines has their own instrument similar to mandolin- a special Philippine Bandurria.
Conductor of one of the Rondallas was very familiar with Jacob’s work in expending the mandolin repertoire and significance as a classical solo instrument and decided to put on an unplanned concert dedicated to original music for mandolin.
A result was a performance of Vivaldi’s Mandolin Concerto in C and Czardas monti with the local Dipolog Community Rondalla. This novel constellation was enthusiastically welcomed by the audience. Jacob’s mastery of the mandolin matched with the exquisite accompaniment of the rondalla gave the music a fresh sound and furthered the festival’s mission of bridging the gaps between cultures.
The next day, another event followed, a lecture given by Reuven on plectrum instruments and the role they played historically in different cultures showcasing his own Kerman mandolin and exploring its Philippine brother. The connection between the instruments and its players was so great that the bandurria maker and conductor, Jay Sarita, gifted Reuven with a Philippine Bandurria of his own as a thank you for his contribution to the 5th Philippine Rondalla Festival.