"Agos, for narrator and chamber ensemble"
The world-premiere of Josefino Chino Toledo's Agos (Flow), concluded last Tuesday, October 2, 2018 and I was very happy with how the work turned out. I'm writing an article for the Juilliard Journal about the event so I won't say much here.
I do want to underscore the origins of Agos. It all began with typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, which ravaged Tacloban, Philippines in 2013. Filipina writer Soleil David wrote an incredible article in her blog entitled, "Resilience is Dirty Word."
It’s a word that seems like a compliment, but it’s also a word that excuses the circumstances that led to resilience. It’s a word that does not assign accountability. You’re resilient, so nothing I hurl at you can break you. Never mind that the effects of climate change has such a devastating effect on a country whose carbon emissions are negligible, the people in that country are resilient, they’ll keep going. The truth is that the people in my country are resilient, because they have no choice but to be resilient.
Filipina poet Joi Barrios-Leblanc then wrote a poem inspired by the article called, "Sumpa ng Kawayan/The Bamboo Curse."
The Filipino version of the poem is where Josefino Chino Toledo built the narrator and chamber ensemble piece from. I served as the narrator. The New Juilliard Ensemble played the music. Joel Sachs conducted. I have a lot more to say about the process of putting the different elements of the work together, but I'll save that for when the November issue of the Juilliard Journal comes out. If you are curious about how the event played out, you can read a review of the concert here.
Ms. De Vera gave an equally emotional reading in Tagalog, so emotional that it resembled Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw. Musically, Mr. Toledo varied each verse with consummate skill. Initially an orchestral rolling and roaring, then what sounded like a Luzon folk song, followed by more tumult and more folk material.
Into The Woods
We officially begin Into the Woods rehearsals on October 22. A number of us, me included, have begun to study the score. Our singing coaches, Deborah Lapidus and David Gaines, are giving us extra support in this process, which I am very grateful for. Again, I didn't have this much support and guidance in my singing when I was working in the Philippines. Then, it was something I had to seek out and pay for on my own in my limited free time. Now, I've got people who are going out of their own way and creating time for me (and the rest of the cast) to give extra support. It's so much easier and faster to grow this way than to be hustling and figuring it out on my own.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.