Friday, November 11, 2011

My ABRSM Non-Experience

Last year, some people I knew talked to me about the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. For those who are not aware, ABRSM is a music board exam that is very popular in the UK and its former colonies. There are many different exams you can take, and in a way it serves as a sort of certification or accreditation of your skills. There are are theory and practical exams for students as well as teachers. I was convinced to apply for a DipABRSM, which is the first and lowest among the diplomas given for those who are interested in teaching music. I already had a Bachelor's Degree from UP, but I figured that a DipABRSM could add to my list of accomplishments especially since there are a number of countries that regard it with esteem.

When I paid the application fee on the 1st of September, there was no exam date given yet for the Philippines, but I was informed that it would be either November or December. Finally, by late October, I was contacted that my exam date was to be on December 14. There's just one big problem: I'm scheduled to arrive from Malaysia on that date. I contacted them that I cannot take my exam on that date, so is it possible to move it to another date. Unfortunately, I was informed that although the exam period is from December 4-14, I can only take my exam on December 14 (?). The examiner has free days but these are her rest days. How disappointing, a 10-day exam period and they can only offer me a one-day-or-no-deal deal. They offered me an option to receive a re-entry voucher for next year instead, but if I cannot comply with the schedule next year, I forfeit my voucher. When I told them that I didn't plan on being in the Philippines by this time next year, the last option they gave me was to refund 50% of what I paid. If I only paid P2000 or less and got only 50% back, I wouldn't feel so bad. However, I paid close to P7000 for an exam that I didn't even need that badly. I felt that it was unfair that I only get 50% back, but ABRSM said that they have to follow regulations, etc.

So now here I am, soon to be around P3500 poorer without accomplishing anything. My advice to others who plan to take ABRSM in the Philippines especially for the diploma exams: be prepared to drop whatever schedule you have planned once they give you their desired schedule, because once you pay there are no taker-backers. I for one will not deprive myself the experience of performing in a foreign land to comply with the rules of a system that is inconsiderate to its examinees who have paid a good amount of money. Rest assured, I will not be applying with ABRSM again. Thankfully, I don't plan to migrate to a former British colony anytime soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Theaterbator: Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" Oct 15-Dec...

Theaterbator: Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" Oct 15-Dec...: [Facebook "Share," Twitter "Tweet this," and Google+ "+1" buttons are found at the bottom of this post.] I submitted the article below to ...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Musical Theater Review: 9 Works Theatrical's Sweet Charity

I was fortunate enough to watch the very first public show of 9 Works Theatrical’s Sweet Charity last August 3, which was the technical dress rehearsal. Before the start of the show, Director Robbie Guevarra gave a few words. He talked about how it’s been a long time since Manila has seen a dance musical, so they wanted to have a test audience before the run actually began. So I was to be a guinea pig for that night, and was encouraged to give my feedback, whether positive or not, to members of the cast or crew.

Having seen this show almost a decade ago in the US, I had some idea about what the show was about. Sweet Charity tells the adventures of Charity Hope Valentine, a bar hostess with a big heart who is unlucky in love. In the lead role of Charity is Nikki Gil. Although known to most as a pop singer, TV actress and host, she is proving to be quite the asset to the local musical theater scene. She doesn’t fail to capture the audience when she is on stage (which is most of the time).

The supporting cast kept up the energy as well. Ciara Sotto-Oconer and Sheree Vidal-Bautista are both sexy and funny as Charity’s co-dancers. Kris Lawrence is hilarious in his role of Oscar, the nervous, claustrophobic man. OJ Mariano was also enjoyable both as the movie actor Vittorio Vidal and “church” leader Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck. As I have previously cited in my musical review of RENT, however, OJ still tends to force out his high notes.

What struck me the most about this musical was the number of musicians employed. I saw around 9-11 musicians to create a “big band” kind of sound. This is a step up from previous musicals staged in RCBC, wherein a number of synthesizers are used to replace real instruments for the sake of cost-cutting as well as space-saving. For Sweet Charity, I was pleased to hear actual instruments, which greatly reduced the synthesized sound that I have grown accustomed to hearing in RCBC.

This musical does not have the typical fairy tale ending one would normally expect from a comedy musical like this, but, nevertheless, Sweet Charity proves to be entertaining. So what does this guinea pig audience member have to say? Well, it was sure worth the trip to the heavy-traffic-land of Makati. Well done, 9 Works Theatrical.

Monday, July 4, 2011

It is Finally Confirmed, Ramin Karimloo Will Lead Phantom of the Opera's 25th Anniversary!

At long last, it is confirmed! There has been speculation for several months already, but this weekend, it has finally been confirmed that Ramin Karimloo (one of my ultimate favorite broadway singers) will be headlining the Phantom's 25th Annivesary at the Royal Albert Hall this October 1 and 2. Joining him will be Sierra Boggess as his muse, Christine. I must say that I am happy with this decision because Ramin is my 2nd favorite Phantom, as Sierra is my favorite Christine. No word yet on who will be cast as Raoul. 

To learn more, read on here.

And I will leave you with some footage of the london production with Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Gina Beck as Christine (who is also one of my favorites) and Simon Bailey as Raoul.

Monday, June 20, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 8

For day 8, I am to post a song by my favorite male singer in a musical. I have to say, that for the moment, my favorite singer is West End star Ramin Karimloo. He's played the roles of Chris is Miss Saigon, Enjolras in Les Miserables, Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, but it wasn't until he played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera (at a young age, I might add) that people really started to take notice. He brought a fresh perspective to the role by portraying the Phantom with Asperger's Syndrome. Coupled with a slightly rock-type voice, he brought a different kind of edge to the role. Andrew Lloyd Webber has said that he is "a very sexy Phantom." Which is why when Lloyd Webber premiered his new musical 'Love Never Dies,' he chose Karimloo to headline the cast. And so I bring you, my favorite song from 'Love Never Dies' entitled 'Til I Hear You Sing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 7

Hello everyone! I put the 30-day Musical Theater Song Challenge on hold because I went on vacation, but now I'm back to blogging. For Day 7, I am to post a song sung by my favorite female singer in a musical. I have to make a confession. I'm very biased towards male voices. For a long time now, I always prefer songs sung by men with lush baritone voices, so I don't really have a favorite female singer. However, that doesn't mean that I can't recognize a good female voice when I see one. So for this day, why not post a song by Ms. Lea Salonga herself? You can't deny all the accomplishments she has achieved. She even performed in both the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts of Les Miserables! It just makes me so happy. So I leave you with a song from the musical that started it all for her. I leave you with 'I'd Give My Life for You' from 'Miss Saigon.'

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Broadway is Not Just for Gays Anymore!

The Tony Awards 2011 was just aired recently, and I have to say that the opening number by host Neil Patrick Harris (from How I Met Your Mother) is just awesome (LOL)! What a great way to start the show.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 6

For day 6, I am to post a song that makes you sad/teary, so we're going back to the serious musicals once again. One song at the top of my list of sad songs is 'Bring Him Home' from Les Miserables. Seeing Valjean pray to God to spare Marius and take him instead can really touch a person if sung well. So, here I bring you one of my favorite renditions of the song: J. Mark McVey from the Hollywood Bowl presentation of the musical last August 2008. This is one of the most touching renditions I've seen. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 5

For day 5, I am to post a song which makes me happy. For this day, let's stray away first from the serious musicals I've shown you and go to a musical that's more light-hearted. When I need a pick-me-up, 'Good Morning Baltimore' from the musical Hairspray is one of my go-to songs.

So for now, I leave you with Nikki Blonsky's 'Good Morning Baltimore' from the movie adaptation of Hairspray! Have a great day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 4

For Day 4, I am to post a song that demonstrates how overrated you think a musical is. I hate to say this, but for me, personally, Evita is an overrated musical. I've never seen the actual musical, so I can only base my opinion from the movie, but I found the general storyline a little dragging and the score, unmoving. I do know that this is one of the works that made a name for Andrew Lloyd Webber, but it's just not my cup of tea.

And since I can't find a good quality clip of something from the stage production, give you 'High Flying Adored' from the Evita movie by Madonna and Antonio Banderas.

Friday, June 3, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 3

For day 3, I am to post a song that demonstrates how underrated you think a musical is. Today, I will leave you with a video of Lily's Eyes from The Secret Garden. This musical truly is underrated. Even though some of the speaking parts are a bit dragging, it has a beautiful score. It's a shame this didn't get more popular than it did.

This video has some generation loss, but Philip Quast and Anthony Warlow, two giants in Australian musical theater, did a wonderful rendition. I can't think of a better recording of this song than the Australian cast recording. This is possibly my favorite male duet of all time, so enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 2

For Day 2 of the 30 Day Musical Theater Challenge, I am to post a song from your latest musical obsession.

My latest musical obsession is Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical 'Love Never Dies,' which is the sequel to his biggest musical ever (he himself admitted this) 'The Phantom of the Opera.' As you can see, Phantom of the Opera is one of my most beloved musicals, and I know that ALW has been working on a sequel since God knows how long (he formally announced it in 1998). Luckily, I was in the US last year when the cast album came out and I was so excited to get my grubby little hands on them. When I read the plot, however, I was horrified--they have deformed the characters beyond recognition, especially my favorite character Raoul.

Raoul has always been my prince charming. When I was younger, he was my dream man--he was dashing, handsome, and he moved heaven and earth to rescue his beloved Christine. The Raoul in Love Never Dies was a complete opposite. How DARE they turn him into a scruffy, bitter drunkard who gambled his fortune away. How dare they! Madame Giry and Meg Giry's characters also took a turn for the worse, and  I, until now, for the life of me, can't understand what reasons Meg's character would have to do what she did in the events before Love Never Dies. The change in the characters, coupled with the very different feel of the music, made me want to literally throw my CD into the air. However, as I listened to it more, it grew on me. Score-wise, it still cannot compete with my all-time favorite musicals, but after I watched the video of it (which cannot be found in Youtube), I was converted. There were moments in the musical that had an intensity I have never seen in any musical before. I do not adore ALW, but for this musical, he has truly composed the right music for the staging he had imagined. The end result just left me breathless. Sure the plot is blah, and the libretto is no where as lyrical as the original, but its finished product makes up for some of the clunkiness.

I will leave you with the opening sequence from the new production of Love Never Dies which just started it's run last May 28. It includes my favorite song of the moment, 'Till I Hear You Sing' sung by Ben Lewis.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge: Day 1

I encountered this 30-Day Musical Theater Song Challenge in another person's blog and thought that this would be a good way to kick off my blog. It says to post it on Facebook but I'm going to do it in blogger instead.

For Day 1, I should post a song from the first musical you saw/heard. As I said in my introductory post, the first musical that I saw when I was already aware is a VHS tape of Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert. It's been my favorite musical ever since. So I bring you "Do You Hear the People Sing" sung by Michael Maguire and company. He plays Enjolras, who happens to be my favorite character in the musical, too. Enjoy!

Review of 9 Works Theatrical's RENT

And just to kick off my blog with some content, I'm reposting my review of 9 Works Theatrical's RENT (originally posted on feb, 28, 2011)

I don't consider myself to be a Renthead, because there are other musicals that I prefer over Rent. Nonetheless, I'm very familiar with the show, owning the DVD's of the movie and the Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway. I also have the movie soundtrack as well as the Original Broadway Cast. Having said so, I entered the theater with high hopes. After all, as far as I know this is already the 3rd run of this musical. The first run was early 2010, when I couldn't find tickets because I bought too late already. The second run was late last year, when the tickets were expensive since it was staged in Rockwell. So I bought my tickets early and was happy for the chance to finally see the musical.

The good thing about Rent is that production-wise, it isn't hard to replicate. The set isn't extravagant (and doesn't change either) and the costumes are simple, too. They're everyday outfits that can be pulled out of an ordinary person's closet. The musicians are composed of a small band of 4 or 5 people. Having said this, you don't need to put in an extravagant amount of money to replicate this in Manila. 9 Works was able to give a good feel of the Broadway show.

Of course, a production doesn't mean anything without a good cast. When it came to acting, the cast was able to capture the essence of their characters. I was especially impressed with Job Bautista as Angel. They got the perfect man to play Angel, the optimistic, dancing, AIDS-stricken cross dresser. Singing-wise (which is the most important part of me), they were okay. Gian Magdangal (Roger) at times reminded me of Adam Pascal's rocky, edgy voice. However, the high ranges of the male characters proved to be a challenge to the male members of the cast. They had to resort to almost shouting their high notes. As a result, power ballads such as Roger's Your Eyes and Collins' I'll Cover You (Reprise) fell a little short for me. This, coupled with the fact that the sound engineer failed to notice that the high was too high (leaving a very penetrating sound when the actors sang in their high range). It's a little hard to explain, but if you know how to operate a sound mixer, you'll know what I'm talking about.

All-in-all, I would say that this was a good production, although it would have been better if the cast were better able to hit the high notes. Nevertheless, this a fresh, young cast whose faces are relatively new in the musical theater scene. I look forward to their blossoming in the years to come.

List of cast that I THINK I saw:
Gian Magdangal - Roger
Sherry Bautista – Mimi
Fredison Lo – Mark
OJ Mariano -Collins
Job Bautista – Angel
Mian Dimacali – Maureen
Jenny Villegas- Joanne
Lorenz Martinez – Benny

Welcome to my Music Blog!

I've finally created a new blog! Thank you for supporting my first blog Musicalfan Loves Minerals, which was all about the kikay side of me. I won't be ignoring my blog (because let's face it, I am very kikay) but after some pondering, I think I'm ready to write about my me and my music. So let me introduce myself.

My name is Crystal. My mom played the piano in her youth, and she wanted me to learn music as well. At the age of five, my mom signed me up for music lessons at the Yamaha School of Music. I don't remember much about those years, but I know that I learned how to read, write and listen to music because of those classes. After that I took organ lessons, but then I stopped. I was without music for a few years, but then, as fate would have it, I was reunited with music when I was in grade five. It's that time in every Filipino's life when children are required to learn the bamboo flute in school. The day I bought my bamboo flute, I found that I could already play tunes (since I've been playing by ear for a very long time). My mom, who has always been supportive of her children's talents, asked if I wanted to play the flute (not the bamboo one) and I said yes! Little did I know that that was the beginning of my music career.

Around that time, my best friend lent me a VHS tape of the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert. I was so amazed by the singing and the music that I became hooked! Pretty soon I started discovering other musicals! I was mesmerized by the mega-musicals of the 80's and 90's. I discovered Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar, and all the smash hits!

Shortly after that, it was time for me to enter high school. My mom encouraged me to lug my flute up Mt. Makiling and audition for the Philippine High School for the Arts. By that time, I was only playing for a year and thought that I had no chance, but by some divine intervention, I passed! I spent my high school life being immersed in art and nature that it seemed like a no-brainer for me to continue my music-making in college. 

I continued my studies in UP Diliman after my high school. I got immersed in classical music, yet I never forgot my first love, musical theater. No, I can't act nor can I sing, but there's really something about the combination of theater, singing and orchestra that gets me high like no other.

Anyway, I'm digressing again, since I am supposed to be introducing myself. So now, it's been two years since I graduated from college as a flute major, and I make my living by doing gigs, playing in concerts and teaching kids how to play flute and piano (I'm also a makeup artist on the side, but I cover that aspect of my life in my other blog). So yes, music is a big part of my life. 

So there. Here's me from my solo concert that I just did at Paco Park Presents last May 20 (just to give you an idea).

What do you expect from this blog? This blog will be mostly about music, reviews on concerts/recitals, musical theater, and a bit of my personal life. Yes, this blog is definitely more personal. I hope you will follow me as I open a new door in my life.

SO, will I be watching The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber when it comes here to the Philippines? Probably not. A concert by various artists is not so much my thing, but I DESPERATELY want to go to London this October for the 25th Anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera, or at the very least, go to Australia to watch Love Never Dies.