Apr 20, 2010

"Korus Takes Vancouver Washington" by UPCC Alumnus Enrico Tadeo

It’s just the second stop in the 19th world tour of the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus, the talented and versatile young performers have shown that they are living up to the world-class reputation that they have built in their 48 years of existence.

The Korus, as they are affectionately known, began the tour with major challenges of flight delays and missed connections, and making it to Seattle-Tacoma Airport with barely enough time to prepare for their Seattle concert on Saturday, April 3. A convoy of Seattle hosts and supporters transported the group to Vancouver, Washington on Tuesday to start the busy week in store for them. Host families welcomed pairs of performers into their homes for a taste of northwest friendship and hospitality..

The days before the main concert on April 11, the group had the opportunity to perform for elementary and middle school students at St. Joseph Catholic School and meet with the college choir at Clark College, where they also performed.

On Saturday, the Korus entertained a group of over 500 student delegates to the conference of Filipino-American students in Oregon and Washington being hosted by the Filipino student group (“Kaibigan”) at Portland State University. The enthused students kept chanting “isa pa!” (‘one more’), extending the program beyond what was planned. Later in the day, a benefit concert was given for Good News Community Health Center, a clinic for low income and uninsured people, founded by a Filipino doctor in Portland Oregon.

The day of the concert still found the choir performing for a couple of church congregations in Vancouver, Felida Baptist Church and mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, before preparing for the 4 pm concert at Skyview High School Auditorium.

From the national anthems to the encore, the two-and-one-half hour concert wowed a mixed crowd of Filipinos and Americans, which included local musicians, who expressed their appreciation for the musical excellence presented. Vancouver, Washington Mayor Tim Leavitt warmly welcomed the visiting choir, who then showed their exquisite musical skills with sacred and international music in the first segment of the concert. The second segment engaged the Filipino crowd with Filipino numbers sung and danced with great enthusiasm, including a moving rendition of ‘Tatsulok’, a song about social justice, poverty and conflict in the Philippines, well depicted with choir members wearing blindfolds during a section of the song.

An extra feature of the lively afternoon, a free trip to Hawaii for two, donated by Hawaiian Airlines through Freedland Travel, was awarded via raffle to an ecstatic winner from Portland Oregon. That enthusiasm carried into the third segment of the concert, and the Korus sang and danced their Broadway and popular numbers, including a lively medley of Gershwin favorites sung and danced in Broadway-style performance, ending the section with a moving rendition of “One Day More.” A standing ovation with insistence on encore numbers concluded the awesome musical experience for the over 700 people in the audience.

Korus director Janet (“Jai”) Sabas Aracama, who had directed the group since the passing of longtime director, Rey T. Paguio in 1999, expressed great pleasure at the enthusiastic response by the audience. The audience, some coming from distant cities of Roseburg (4 hours away!), Eugene, Corvallis and Salem, was just as ecstatic. A local choir director commented, “they were so good ... such talented voices!” Another musician added, “That was the most beautiful Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard. What a thrill to hear the Korus and see their incredible costumes and dancing!”

The Vancouver Washington visit was sponsored by the Filipino American Association of Clark County and Vicinity. Clark County is in the southwest section of the State of Washington, including the city of Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from the larger metropolitan of Portland Oregon.

The Korus took this little-known city of Vancouver (not BC) Washington (not DC) and swept it off its feet with its world-class performance. Hopefully a restful overnight trip on a chartered bus to the Bay area will renew their energies, as they continue the tour, which will ultimately bring them to Chicago, Washington DC and New Jersey, then Germany and Italy before heading home in mid-June.

The University of the Philippines Concert Chorus is preparing to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary in 2012, promising to be a major musical event in the Philippines.

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