Robin Estrada ranks among the bold and innovative talents in Philippine composition today. His works meld Western forms with Southeast Asian musical styles that accentuate the finesse and fire of the region’s cultural diversity. His pieces evoke a unique sound that brings Asia to the world of contemporary art music.
Notes from the Composer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Et Apartum Est Templum
Performed by the Ateneo Chamber Singers; directed by Jonathan Velasco.
Commissioned by the San Francisco Choral Artists (under Magen Solomon, artistic director), Et Apertum est Templum uses text from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. This composition focuses on the latter passage of the 11th Chapter and the onset of the 12th: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. And there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail. And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
Written for eight vocal sections (three sopranos, three altos, tenors and basses), bell chords morph from the chordal to the pointillistic against a backdrop of recitatives with areas of extended and exaggerated consonants. Also evident in the piece is the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western musical material, particularly Balinese scales and Gregorian chants, with the fusion of the indigenous with the modern apparent in the vocal techniques used throughout the composition.
Performed by the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players; conducted by David Milnes.
At dawn's rising, the Muezzin's voice stirs a slumbering village to dasal (prayer). Silence gives way to the drone of melismatic melodies, beckoning the faithful to movement. Within moments, sacred intonations are drowned by the morning's labors. Animals groan in anticipation, women, men and children scurry about their quotidian tasks. But dasal persists, sustaining the day's chaos with its haunting calm.