Phiippine Madrigal Singers

The Philippine Madrigal Singers at St. Paul's Chapel

Trinity Church Wall Street presents the Philippine Madrigal Singers in concert at St. Paul’s Chapel Tuesday, May 30, at 7pm. Leo Paolo Leal, manager of the ensemble, and Enrico Lagasca of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, gave Jim Melchiorre, Trinity’s Director of Content, a preview of the event.

JM: How did the singers get involved with madrigals, a type of music many people associate with Europe in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries?

EL: In the 1960s, while a university student, the founder of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Andrea Veneracion, was introduced to a madrigal. From that seed sprung the concept of having fellow artists gathered around the table to also write music within the parameters of a "Madrigal," songs with elaborate vocal lines without accompaniment. These early Philippine Madrigals were arrangements often derived from the vast collection of folk songs found in many regions in the Philippines. The group adapted the concept of singing seated, as though it is a gathering in a semicircle, which opens to the audience as the other half of it, which completes the whole concept of sharing music together. 

Enrico Lagasca, bass
Enrico Lagasca (right), now part of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, is a former member of Philippine Madrigal Singers.

JM: A highlight of the 60-year history of the Philippine Madrigal Singers is a 2009 award from UNESCO as Artists of Peace. How did that come about?  

LPL: We believe that choral music can be socially relevant and transformational, in touching the hearts and souls of those who attend our performances, as well as in nurturing and developing future generations of conductors and choral singers. UNESCO recognized the choir's efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples in South-East Asia, [and its] contribution to extend UNESCO’s message of peace and tolerance.


Phiippine Madrigal Singers
The Philippine Madrigal Singers go on international tours twice a year, often performing in remote areas of the Philippines.

JM: What should persons attending expect at St. Paul’s Chapel Tuesday night?

LPL: The Philippine Madrigal Singers is known for its wide variety of repertoire. We will be doing a couple of Renaissance madrigals. In addition, we will be doing some Filipino contemporary compositions of various styles plus collaborative pieces with Enrico Lagasca, an alumnus of the choir.

EL: Tuesday's concert marks a special event as my current home in New York meets the group, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, whom I call a family and still a home for me. While these worlds are beautifully different in many ways, they do share the common vein of love and commitment to music, culture and art, fellowship with a mission that involves kindness, welcome, and compassion. All of these create this musical cultural exchange between the East and West that closes our observance and celebration of AAPI Heritage Month

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