MANILA – An orchestra composed of young musicians will represent the Philippines in two shows in Qatar this month.
They are the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth (OFY) under the non-profit organization Ang Misyon, which provides free classical music training to children from disadvantaged families.
With the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the OFY will perform at the Qatar National Library on October 25, and at the Katara Open House on October 26.
“For us, Ang Misyon has several layers of narrative that’s interesting to promote,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Leo Herrera-Lim. “Many of those who join Ang Misyon come from disadvantaged sectors… For many people around the world, that’s a source of inspiration.”
“We also try to enforce the second narrative that Filipinos are talented in a lot of things, and we’re not a one-trick individual,” he continued. “We want our friends around the world to see Filipinos as not just their workers or their professionals. We’re also musicians and much more.”
Ang Misyon and OFY are founded by Federico Lopez, who has always believed in the power of music as “a force for social change.”
He stressed that a lot of doors can open to those who harness their musical talent.
“Many of them have found scholarships because of their excellence in music. The program is not just about creating musicians… it also opens doors to them. If they want to become engineers, accountants, their excellence in music opens doors to them because they get education and all that. We can uplift their lives,” Lopez explained.
“I think classical music is the perfect vehicle because you must have that technical discipline,” he continued. “The other part of it is if you’re part of the orchestra, you have to subsume your ego… and make the whole group sound good.”
“What it does is it inspires people… if you learn that it is the goal of the group that is important rather than just your individual talent, you can go places.”
Now on its sixth year, Ang Misyon’s OFY is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, a program that teaches classical music to children and young adults.
One of El Sistema’s graduates, Joshua Santos, assists OFY and acts as the group’s conductor and musical director.
Looking back on their six-year journey, Lopez said: “The nice thing is we were able to bring the sound to a certain level – I think from hobbyists to almost sounding like a professional orchestra. It’s been a challenge bringing it to where it is. But now that it is here, where do you take it?”
“What I like today is that now that it has the ability to inspire, you can now spread the same kind of movement toward other communities, even underprivileged communities. Once that whole thing gathers momentum, it’s almost an unstoppable force for social change,” he ended.