UM Chorale: Making the city proud

AFTER they emerged victorious in the 13th Busan Choral Festival and Competition Grand Prix last September 9 in Busan, South Korea, you would think the University of Mindanao Chorale (UMC) would eye bigger competitions outside of Asia, but this is not the case.

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Instead, UMC conductor Peter Ian Buaya said they are looking forward to using their talents to nurture more talents here in the city and then around the region.

“We believe choral singing in Davao city isn’t really that known; what we can do is instead of competing more, why not promote choral singing in the community, hold workshops, or help aspiring groups wherever they don’t know how to execute properly [a choral piece],” Sir Peter told the TIMES.

While he said a few workshops and seminars to be conducted by the UMC are already in the pipeline, Sir Peter also works independently to train singers through his voice coaching and conductor training school.

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Also a big dream for the UMC is the establishment of a University of Mindanao Alumni Chorale, because as he put it, it’s best to utilize the talents of those who have been already trained extensively to also teach the newcomers.

“We’re looking forward to that because members won’t be limited to four years of training, it can be a lifetime membership to those interested,” he said.

In the meantime, he is enjoying developing the talents of some senior high school members in the 23-strong chorale.

A brief history on the UMC: it was founded in 1993 and has been entering local and national competitions, but the highlight in its career came in 2015 with a victorious NAMCYA (National Music Competition for Young Artists) debut.

Then the following year, UMC made waves by bagging gold medals in three categories: namely Church, Folklore, and Chamber, at the 9th Concentus International Choral Festival held in Singapore, a major feather in the hat of the group composed of mainly of college students about to finish their courses.

Sir Peter said their first international competition was different from local ones because the in Philippine competitions, it usually goes that chorales can choose one contest piece, and then render two songs of their choice, whereas international competitions have their pieces categorized.

“The Busan competition played to our advantage because the categories (Classical Mixed and Ethnic) were already in the strengths of our chorale,” said Peter, adding their pieces were by Filipino composers.

As with the Busan victory, Sir Peter said it was important that the chorale never slacks off just because they won in international contests.

“We always keep it to heart that when we train, we always train like newbies,” because when one feels that everything is new, he or she tends to be more focused and eager to always do better than the last time, he said.

“But when we perform, we perform like we’ve been doing this all our lives. You don’t want the audience and judges to think you are neophytes,” he added.

Also, the chorale performs in such a way that their pieces never highlight only one member.

 “There is no single star in a choir,” he added, as all the members work to build each other up.

Photos courtesy of Christian Garay

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