The first time I heard of the Toyota Classics series was a commercial in Star World. It was probably years ago when I was still in High School. Everything just looks so glamorous, the way the Orchestra looks so formal in their Tuxedoes and Black gowns, the announcer’s voice, the red telon of the stage. I could still remember the Announcer’s voice saying the event title: “Toyota Classics: A World of Harmony featuring the blahblah orchestra.” Then when I chanced upon the concert tickets being sold online one lazy time while browsing ticketnet.com, I saw it, the banner announcing the Manila Leg of Toyota Classics. I just had to buy the tickets~! One childhood memory somewhat re-lived! Surprisingly though they’re nearly sold out (probably because I was buying the day before the concert haha) and I really felt somewhat lucky that I was able to purchase tickets, even if it’s all the way up Balcony 2 of the CCP Main Theater.
Frankly I don’t know what to expect, how to act, or what to do when watching Orchestra performances. I do listen to classical music once in a while: Heavily listening way back then to the Escaflowne soundtrack, a fan of this Classical Music themed Anime titled Nodame Cantabile for some time, 98.7 The Masters Touch when I’m stressed at work and my head is filled with too much RnB. I liked Rachmaninoff because it sounded mysterious and dark and heavy when I first heard it played in Nodame. But I don’t know my Mozart from Beethoven, I was just a casual listener, not a die-hard fanatic. Because of that I was afraid that I’d be bored with the performance and my 300+ Peso ticket going to waste. It’s basically 2 hours of sitting there, inside a theater, with high-soceity stiffs, listening. Or at least that was what occurred to me before watching the performance, and the first 2 performances. But I figured, hey, it’s a new experience so no, no amount of money will be wasted here.
I traveled from Bonifacio Global City to CCP through a series of commutes – and a taxi ride just to be on time. When I arrived there were a lot of cars lining up along CCP – high end cars, with special plate numbers. Yeap, high society in attendance. And I was probably the only one walking along the entrance ramp of CCP from Roxas Boulevard. I still have to redeem my tickets at the Box Office booth so I tried to line up patiently, internal panic setting in because the show was about to start. An Old caucasian guy was in front of me, buying tickets as well, and in front of him, a Japanese couple being entertained by the attendant. Then suddenly, this Ambassador-looking guy bursted out the door and approached the line saying: “Do you need tickets? Here, I don’t need them.” I was hesitant at first, Paano naman yung ticket ko? And then I double-checked – the ticket was for Balcony 1.
I ended up beside the Caucasian Guy in Balcony 1. He turned out to be German (or Austrian?) guy who attends Orchestra Performances regularly, even the monthly ones by the Philippine Philharmonic. It was very interesting listening to him talk about Orchestras – he said in his home country, Vienna, people commonly watch Operas or Orchestra Performances every week, for pleasure. And he found it somewhat sad that Filipinos could not do the same, and that Filipinos do not like this kind of music. Wow, ah, ang class naman ng mga Viennese. I said ordinary Filipinos mostly like songs they could dance or sing along to. He talked about the program, and he pointed to one of the pieces “This one is Funny..”. He was pointing to Die Fledermaus Overture by Johann Strauss II. Wow, I thought, How can an Orchestra Piece make you laugh? In fact, how would you enjoy a Classical Piece, this upcoming performance? How would you feel it? It doesn’t exactly have words you could sing along or relate to.
And so I did what I thought I should do. Just listen, and shut up, and appreciate what’s currently in front of me. Just let it affect you. For those who are not really into arts, I think that’s probably the key to appreciating art. And then it hit me. I don’t know any of these Classical Pieces by their titles, but then, I would start to realize some parts – This sounds like the Background music of Circus Charlie (an old Famicom Video Game), Wait! I think I heard this before (researching it afterwards I learned that it was part of Tom and Jerry), Fu*k That’s part of a Barbara Streisand Song! Then this one piece, Joaquin Adrigo’s 2nd movie made me think, Shet, Gusto kong umiyak. Nakaka-iyak naman ito. Parang background music lang ng teleserye! The Viennese Blood Waltz makes you want to sway your head. They all sounded familiar, at least the songs performed on the second half, and I found myself actually enjoying the performance. I think almost of the audience, filled with somewhat middle-class late-adulthood people, Nihon-jins, some teens probably cajoled by their parents to join enjoyed it as well. The applause at the end was so loud and everyone was receptive, that the Orchestra has agreed to play 2 songs for their encore, the Blue Danube and some Polka whose title I have forgotten.
The Day after I searched youtube for the songs that were played by the orchestra, and as I listened that was the only time that it dawned to me what a great performance I had witnessed that night, that I probably could’ve appreciated it more if I knew that they’re playing this songs I’m listening to right now. If it sounded so great in these recordings then it would’ve sounded better live! It’s somewhat sad, but now I know what to expect and how to actually enjoy future Orchestra Performances that I’d be attending in the future.
Bom’s picks from the Concert Program:
1. Invierno Porteño (Buenos Aires Winter) by Astor Piazolla – This was the song that sounded like a Barbara Streisand song. It’s nice to hear the Original version played in a Bandoneon. The performance by the Orchestra was arranged for the guitar.
2. Overture to Die Fledermaus Op.214 by Johann Strauss II – This was when the concert, for me, started to pick up. And it sounded like Circus Charlie.
3. Viennese Blood Waltz, Op. 354 – Will probably be stuck to your head after you listen to it.