All about Christmas


I CAN never quell a stir of fascination, dread and longing, when the house lights dim and the curtain parts in every Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO’s) gentle riot. It is spellbound.

“Enjoy whatever  music floats  the boat, never question your own tast. There is a world of music out there both  old and new, so keep your ears open…the music you surround yourself with  can be considered the soundtrack to your life” ..thus spoke a superior conductor nicknamed Bob, as he shook John Wayne Performing Arts in a recent Saturday, with Christmas yuletides in an ensemble and melodies so spontaneous, effervescent played with fire and abandon, as well as the gentlest and caressing repertoire:…like poets they dazzled, but never intrude, into the music. Where else could we find musical expressions that would portray so many subtle shades of emotion: passing through an entire cauldron of feelings, tenderness, romance, gaiety, nostalgia, pathos, but above all love of country..of solid  patriotism that evoked, as Maestro Bob Shroder got more tireless and resilient…with his magic baton glowing like an Excalibur.

The FASO is not just for music lovers but every facet of serious or light music, basically, it is just about presentation of every branch of musical composition…symphonies, operatic, chorales, vocal, chamber music and overall repertoire that reflects its deep affinity with Filipinos, that make us proud. But more than anything, it is about the first every Filipino Symphony Orchestra , outside the Philippines aptly called Filipino American Symphony Orchestra, with  Filipino musician of various ages whose sound of their instruments turned on, spelled excitement, and no one can imagine that its birth took place     some old back porch over a tete a tete conversation a couple of years back. It started from a question “is there a Filipino Symphony orchestra in the United States?” replied by “none” and concluded  with “ there will be one” said with the insight and resolve that made the birth of FASO possible, revered  couple in the Fil Am Com.

Looking back, the first performance at the Sabah Theater in Beverly Hills, shook the theater, literally, an earthquake that did not even distract the spellbound audience, who simply watched in an expression of pride, celebrating fellow Filipinos perform in a stunning, record breaking, magnificent show, as there stood, an indomitable conductor mighty and sterling leading all, without ever forgetting, not ever for a minute: FASO will flourish and triumph because of each one that is part of it.

Just as an artist knew the color of his pallet, selecting and blending different colors and shades that will be spread on his canvass, the Maestro knew his orchestra.

Everyone on that orchestra was a musical personality, had a unique style and the quality of tone that was different from others, he knew how to mix them, how to blend them. Knew just how he wanted a pure of music to be played, knew exactly what he wanted to hear…a gifted music man who has been remarkably consistent and consistently remarkable.

They were impressively long on passion, but unfortunately short on funds. Let us all try to rev up… There is probably somebody in your phone book who knows somebody, who knows somebody who could solve this problem, with the stroke of a pen – make a phone call to that somebody.

This March, let’s swing with the FASO.

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