|Michael Dadap. Photo by Patrick Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
LONDON - A seasoned Filipino musician based in the US brought classical music from the Philippines and Latin America to the Southbank Centre in London in honor of the shared Spanish heritage that influenced both regions.
Maestro Michael Dadap performed at the Purcell Room in Queen Elizabeth Hall last week as part of the Classical Season at the Southbank Centre, a prestigious arts and culture hub in the UK. He was the first Filipino musician to perform at the venue.
The 69-year-old, who is based in New York, enchanted a mixed crowd of dignitaries, Londoners and UK-based Filipinos, delivering measured performances of classical compositions from the Philippines, Latin America and Spain.
"I just want them to enjoy our music, because music is music. Whatever it is. I chose the music that touches my heart, my spirit, my inside, whatever that moves me," he told ABS-CBN Europe ahead of his performance.
His original set list included "Three Venezuelan Waltzes" by Antonio Lauro (Venezuela), "Una Limosna Por El Amor De Dios" by Agustin Barrios Mangore (Paraguay), "Two Preludes for Guitar" by Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil), and "Gran Vals Capriccio Arabe" by Francisco Tarrega (Spain), who is considered the father of modern classical guitar.
It also showcased Filipino works like "Hating Gabi" by Antonio Molina and "Huling Awit" by Resureccion Bunyi, as well as Dadap’s own compositions and arrangements including "Five Visayan Serenades for Guitar" and a "Folk Song Suite for Guitar".
"There is nothing like making music that comes from your heart. The music can also come from the fingers but if it comes from your heart, it’s different. It carries a different weight. It carries a different message," he said.
Dadap has been Artistic and Musical Director of the Children’s Orchestra Society (COS) in New York since 1984. He has also worked with a number of esteemed musicians including popular cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Christine Kwak, and pianist Emmanuel Ax.
He began his career in music playing rock-n-roll and jazz standards, but later found a passion for classical music. He admits, however, that he retains an eclectic taste, drawing inspiration from all genres including pop music and even hip-hop. But his love remains firmly fixed with Filipino music.
"Be proud of our own music. It is beautiful. It is admired by everybody, all of the musicians that I have met in New York, they love it," he enthused.
Dadap’s solo performance in London was organized by the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Society (LACCS) in the UK, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and supported by the Embassy of the Philippines in London.
"We selected Michael Dadap because he is a composer, conductor and classical guitarist. He’s a complete package. And as a Filipino musician, we have historical connections between Philippines, Spain and Latin America," said Professor J.R. Monroy, Founder and Chairman of LACCS.
Enrique Manalo, Ambassador of the Philippines in the UK, added: "It's been a great opportunity to bring Michael Dadap here, who I feel is a great exponent of Filipino culture through his playing of the classical guitar. We, as well as other Latin American countries, have much of the Spanish heritage which has been reflected in much of our art, especially in music."
Among the crowd were dignitaries from a handful of embassies in London, including representatives from Belarus and Thailand, who remarked on the beauty of the music from the event.
"I enjoyed a fabulous musician and guitarist performing classical guitar and I really enjoyed the way he was performing," said Sergei Aleinik, Ambassador of Belarus in the UK.
Phuchphop Mongkolnavin, a counselor from the Royal Thai Embassy, added: "I think it's absolutely wonderful this evening. The performance has been great. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert."
Dadap returned to New York following his UK performance to conduct the premiere of a Filipino opera version of “Noli Me Tangere” at The Kaye Playhouse.