Given today's modern advancements in media and technology, it is easy to access music instantly in a number of different ways. Be that as it may however, nothing can compare to the experience of enjoying a live musical performance first-hand, especially when it is presented by gifted musicians and singers who are able to truly give it justice. Such was definitely the case at the recent "FASO goes POPS!" show, wherein the 50-plus talented musicians of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra(FASO), led by Musical Director and Principal Conductor Robert "Bob" Shroder, perfectly collaborated with featured Filipino-American composers and skillful singers to create a beautiful evening of magnificent music at the famed Alex Theater in Glendale, CA.
The first and only Filipino symphony orchestra outside of the Philippines, FASO operates as a 501 3c (non-profit) organization. Headed by President Arlene Ferrolino; Vice President Luis Ramos, Ph.D.; Treasurer Susan R. Legaspi, CPA CFF CGMA ACFE; and Secretary John S. Mina, the Board of Directors is comprised of Claire N. Espina; Amirah May Limayo, MPA; Wendy Mazon; Ruben V. Nepales; Rocio C. Nuyda; Asuncion Ojeda, DMA; Carmelita O'Neil, CPA; Edwin Raquel, MBA; Maestro Robert Shroder; Charina M. Vergara, MBA; and Titus Verzosa, CPA. Throughout its history, ever since it's historic first concert at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills back in 2009, the trailblazing orchestra has wowed audiences by being able to effortlessly perform a diverse array of musical genres; including classical, kundiman, movie, liturgical, rock, Christmas, and big band.
Photo by: Andy Tecson
True to it's name, FASO goes POPS! boasted a program rich with familiar American and Original Pilipino Music (OPM) favorites. The event served to honor iconic Fil-Am composers, including Oscar-winner Robert Lopez (“Let It Go”), Cecile Azarcon (“Lift Up Your Hands”), Odette Quesada (“Give Me a Chance” and “Till I Met You”), SJ Gandia (“Tayo ay Pilipino” and “Hanggang Huli’y Ikaw”), Aaron Paul del Rosario (“Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin”), and Dodjie Simon (“Tatak ng Pilipino” and “Ikaw Lamang”), while giving the mix of brilliant performers a chance to sing cherished pop songs alongside the orchestra.
Photo by: Benny Uy
After the National Anthems, the night started off on a somber tone with a moment of silence in honor of all of the victims of the recent global terrorist attacks in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris, but the energy picked up considerably afterwards as the program was kicked off by a rousing performance of the "William Tell Overture." Living up to the night's title, the first individual to be honored was the King of Pop himself, with a performance of Michael Jackson's "Ben" by 9-year-old Ian Chen and "Billy Jean" byJoshua-Kai Dawson, also 9. The first featured composer was SJ Gandia, with Nilo Alcala singing “Hanggang Huli’y Ikaw" and Kaitlyn Fajilan performing “Tayo ay Pilipino."Odette Quesada was the next composer to be featured, as she performed her signature “Till I Met You” after Daryl Ogalino sang “Give Me a Chance." Up next was a duet of Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are," performed by Michael Keith, 11, and Gian Paolo Jimenez, 10. Dodjie Simon was featured next, with Bryce Gomez, 8, singing "Tatak ng Pilipino." A fun OPM medley by DEM (Dennis Jardiel, Erwin Andaya, and Mike Zuniga) included crowd favorites such as "Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika," "Ewan," "Batang-bata Ka Pa," "Ngayon at Kailanman," and "Umagang Kay Ganda" was followed by Sharon Rose Orosco singing "Bituing Walang Ningning," and FASO's performance of the Filipino karaoke favorite, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, wrapped up the first set prior to intermission.
The second act was got underway with a song and dance medley by Therese Masangcay, 16, backed up with dancing by Daryl Ogalino and Jennifer Murillo, followed by an enthusiastic performance of "Greatest Love of All" by the FASO Children's Ensemble (Elizabeth Cruz, Sabrina Evangelista, Casteen Legaspi, Andreas Makiling, Jolleen Mejia, Sophie Nack, and Nicole Padilla). "Lift Up Your Hands" by featured composer Cecile Azarcon was performed next by the talented Gabrielle Current, and DEM returned onstage with a VST Medley that included "Tayo'y Magsayawan," "Rock Baby Rock," and "Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko." The next featured composer, Robert Lopez, is the youngest member of the very exclusive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winners' circle, as "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen was performed with aplomb by 10-year-old Sydney Haik. Denise Gonzales, 15, then performed another Disney song, Michael Bolton's "Go the Distance" from Hercules, followed by 14-year-old Mikaela Bautista giving a powerful performance of a Bodyguard medley that included "I Have Nothing" and "I will Always Love You" in honor of the late Whitney Houston. Shelby Miguel next presented Dodjie Simon's "Ikaw Lamang," followed by Sharon Rose Orosco's rendition of Aaron Paul del Rosario's "Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin." The back-up singers were then featured, as Erwin Andaya, Cecilia Rojas Azaret, and Margie Villavicencio Mortel closed things off with a rousing performance of "Age of Aquarius."
Photo by: Benny Uy
After a standing ovation and a call for an encore, Maestro Bob came back to lead all the artists in performing "Isang Mundo, Isang Awit," and was in turn serenaded in advance of his birthday on November 15th to conclude the evening's festivities.
Without a doubt, there are a lot of talented Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the field of music and the arts, and it is commendable that an organization like FASO would have the drive, the determination, and the passion to gather them together to be appropriately appreciated by the community.That said, this obviously is an expensive undertaking so they are requesting for our financial support through their "Piso para sa FASO" program.
For more information about FASO's future events, and of how you can support and become involved, please visit their website at http://www.fasofoundation.org/.