By Sanghaya Creo
The 820-capacity auditorium at the Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, Braybrook, was filled to capacity on 14 June to feature a relatively unknown youth orchestra from provincial Philippines.
For those in attendance, it was perhaps an opportunity to hear some free Filipino music from talents back home. Little did many know they were in for a treat.
It didn’t take long before the audience was wowed by the talent of the young people on stage. Performing alongside some of the College’s own student musicians, the Jose De Piro Kabataan Orchestra had the audience clapping enthusiastically throughout the night. Twice they brought the audience to their feet, shouting for an encore. The orchestra performed music ranging from Phantom of the Opera to a medley of VST & Co. songs.
Richard Liistro, Director of Communications of Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, says it was an honour for the College to host the Jose De Piro Orchestra. “Caroline Chisholm Catholic College is a diverse community … which includes a significant Filipino population. The concert was a wonderful celebration of student talent and cultures coming together to enjoy an evening of music,” he says.
“Caroline Chisholm Catholic College is a diverse community … which includes a significant Filipino population. The concert was a wonderful celebration of student talent and cultures coming together to enjoy an evening of music,” he says.
Under the direction of conductor Felicito Sacdalan, the Jose De Piro Kabataan Orchestra successfully completed its 2019 Australian Tour with rousing performances in four Melbourne colleges, namely Thomas Carr College, Tarneit; Trinity College, Colac; Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, Braybrook; and Our Lady of Mercy College, Heidelberg.
Hailing all the way from Bataan, Philippines, the Youth Orchestra exemplifies an inspiring story of how pastoral care and support provide young people from poorer communities a chance for a better future.
The Orchestra was founded by Fr Joe Cremona, a member of the Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP). Noting the limited opportunities for children and the impoverished conditions in Dinalupihan, Bataan, he built a place where young people can learn music as a way out of poverty. The initiative grew to what is now known as the Jose De Piro Centre for the Arts. The Centre offers all services and teaching free of charge, and now trains 80 emerging musicians.
As a result of the music program, students are able to sit the international ABRSM music exams, leading to five talented students who have been offered scholarships to attend St Scholastica College of Music in Manila. Another two students received scholarships this year, with four more expected to join the select group next year.
Carlos is one of the scholars whose talent in music took him from a life of poverty to one of opportunity for the future. He played the double bass in the Melbourne concerts and said, “I want to show how well Filipinos play. My hope for the future is to be able to teach music in Bataan.”
According to Fr Joe Cremona, “The aim of our music program is to provide these young people with new opportunities in life; offering them formation through music. While it’s good to form skilled musicians, it is even better to form musicians with a generous heart who are open to share of themselves.”
The Jose De Piro Kabataan Orchestra operates with support from generous benefactors. Supporters have raised $30,000 to bring the group to Melbourne. Continued support through donations will go a long way to finance the living expenses of the scholars in Manila.
Fr Joe Cremona made this appeal: “I extend an invitation to musicians to give us some of your time and experience in teaching music either by visiting us in the Philippines or to coach our students through Skype. If you have any second-hand instruments you could donate to our orchestra, we would be very grateful to put them to good use.”