Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation, Inc. Brings a Night of Romantic Music with “The Poet Speaks” Concert, featuring Tenor Arthur Espiritu and Pianist Najib Ismail

Admittedly, I am a music-lover, but while I did take a required music appreciation class at university (three units of one semester, culminating in a “field trip” to the CCP to watch the Philippine Philharmonic), my tastes tend to run more to art rock than art songs.  I have sung in church choirs as part of my voice training, and as a theater rat am by proxy fond of its operatic roots, but I’m not exactly what you’d call very familiar with chamber music.  So when I volunteered to cover the first act in MCO’s yearly offerings, I wasn’t sure what to expect.


packed venue MCOF Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation the poet speaks chamber music najib ismail arthur espiritu


I wasn’t too surprised to find the venue packed, though.  For all that pop music rules our airwaves and iPods, classical music is known as “classical” for a reason–there’s a timelessness to it that appeals to the broad spectrum of audiences.  Proof?  For all that we tend to dismiss these events as featuring “old people music,” there were quite a number of people my age in the audience.


Arthur Espiritu tenor MCOF Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation The Poet Speaks Chamber Music concert

Celebrated tenor Arthur Espiritu gears up to let loose his “regal tenor” notes.


When I saw the tenor, however, I understood.  If I had expected a “Three Tenors” type–someone of my grandparents’ generation–I was sorely mistaken.  Both Mr. Espiritu and Mr. Ismail were young, a fact that would be made very obvious when they started performing.  Though classical training ensures that a person’s voice remains the same throughout their lifetime–something that cannot be said for many pop singers, whose voices tend to degrade over the years from abuse, wear, and tear–Mr. Espiritu’s energetic performance made it obvious that this was a man in his prime.  His voice, too, was extremely flexible: one moment, it could be extremely strong and full, almost baritone-like in strength, especially in the lower notes; the next, however, could have it soaring high and sweet over the lilting piano notes.