A photo of violist and music educator, Armin Mariano in promotion of "A Summer Symphony With FASO" on Saturday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m. at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Artist Spotlight: Violist & Music Educator, Armin Mariano

Under the spotlight this week as we gear up for “A Summer Symphony With FASO at Walt Disney Concert Hall” is FASO violist and music educator, Armin Mariano. We’re also fortunate to have him as teacher of our FASO Youth String Ensemble. Watch him and his students perform with FASO on Saturday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m.! Read more

A photo of the Hall Family in promotion of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra's Walt Disney Concert Hall debut.

Artist Spotlight: The Hall Family

To gear up for our Walt Disney Concert Hall debut on Saturday, August 3, we’re kicking off this round of our spotlight series with a family of singers — Cliffton Hall, Deedee Magno Hall and Brycen Hall. Read more

Call for Solo Auditions for Young Vocalists: Sing with Us at Our Summer Concert

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra is calling for young vocalists, from grades 3 to 12, to audition for solo spots at our summer concert on Saturday, August 3, 2019.

To sign up for an audition, submit the application form below. Applicants must also provide a link to a prescreening video clip of themselves singing any song of their choice in the application form. The clip may not exceed more than 4 minutes in length. YouTube links are preferred. However, if the candidate has performed with FASO before, this prescreening video requirement is waived.

The application form and sample video clip are due Saturday, March 2. Those who pass the pre-screen will be invited to our live auditions on Saturday, March 16 in Los Angeles. The time and venue of the audition will be provided in your invitation letter.

If you’re invited to our live auditions, you’ll be asked to perform two songs. The first audition piece must be selected from the list of songs below. The songs on the list are part of our Disney Hall concert repertoire. When you select a song from the list as your audition piece, you will be auditioning to perform that song at our concert. The second audition piece can be any song of your choice that best showcases your own vocal style and abilities. If you’d like, your second audition piece can also be selected from the list below.

Choose your audition pieces wisely. We recommend selecting pieces that you’re most comfortable with and that best fits your vocal range. But when selecting your second piece, take into consideration the popularity of a prospective song as an audition piece. If you select a popular audition piece, then you’ll most likely be competing with more candidates. If you select a less popular audition piece, then the odds of being selected will be much more favorable with fewer candidates to select from. If we don’t find a candidate suitable for any of the songs below, we reserve the right to exclude the song from the concert repertoire.

Additional details regarding the live auditions will be provided in your invitation if you’re selected. Good luck!

Questions? Email Louie Ramos at luisramos91201@gmail.com.

Audition Pieces

1. Sa Ugoy ng Duyan (Solo)
2. Ili-Ili Tulog Anay (Solo)
3. Caturog na Nonoy (Solo)
4. A Million Dreams
• Solo
• Duet of Child Vocalist AND Their Parent

Listening Tracks

Here are a few listening tracks to help participants learn audition pieces from our repertoire.

1. Sa Ugoy ng Duyan
Vocal Model
Minus One

2. Ili-Ili Tulog Anay
Vocal Model

3. Caturog na Nonoy:
Vocal Model
Minus One (Verse Only)

4. A Million Dreams Solo version:
Solo Vocal Model
Duet Vocal Model

An image in promotion of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra's International Composition Competition for Philippine Folk Music. Application materials are due June 29, 2019.

Call for Young Composers: International Composition Competition for Philippine Folk Music

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) is pleased to announce its second annual International Composition Competition for Philippine Folk Music for students. This competition is dedicated to the promotion of Philippine folk music. All participants must submit an original composition for full orchestra (no vocals) that incorporates a theme(s) from any Philippine folk song(s). The composition must be between 3 and 5 minutes.

A distinguished panel of judges will select a winner, who will be awarded a $1000 prize. The second-place winner will receive a prize of $500. The winning piece will have its world premiere at our August 3 concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Composition scores, demo recordings and application form are due June 29, 2019 at 11:55 p.m. PST. Demo recordings and composition scores should be submitted via email to pr@fasofoundation.org. See below for more details on submission logistics.

The following is a list of composition competition rules and requirements. The application form can found here and at the bottom of this page.

Rules and Requirements

  • This international composition competition is open to composers of all nationalities registered in a college, university or film school as of 2019. Students graduating from their respective programs in 2019 are welcome to participate.
  • Multiple composers may collaborate on one competition entry as long as each composer satisfies the previous requirement above.
  • The composition may not have vocals.
  • The composition should not have been commercially released, posted publicly on content-sharing websites (e.g., YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo etc.) or performed in public as of the deadline. A composition will not be accepted if it has won first prize in another competition(s). Compositions that originated as school projects or that have been performed in school recitals may be submitted.
  • The composition must use standard symphonic orchestra instrumentation. For your reference, FASO has the following instrumentation: 2+picc, 2d1, 2+bass, 2 – 3, 3, 3, 1, timp, perc, hp, str.* You may include Philippine instruments (e.g., kulintang, angklung, rondalla instruments, etc.), but it is not required.
  • The composition must incorporate theme(s) from any Philippine folk song(s). Clarification on what we mean: Of course, Philippine folk songs with established melodies already exist. The composition component in this competition is the arrangement of those melodies. There are many opportunities to be innovative and creative in the composition process. The composition may be in any style, genre or form. Some examples:
    • A straightforward orchestration of a folk song melody
    • Medley of themes
    • Variations of a theme
    • Mashup of multiple themes
  • The composition’s score in PDF format and a demo recording in MP3 format must be emailed to pr@fasofoundation.org on the same day that the online application form is submitted. You may use one or a combination of the following for the demo recording: live instrument performance, MIDI mockup, synthesizer, playback from notation software (e.g., Finale, Sibelius etc.). Keep in mind that the quality of the demo recording will have no impact on the evaluation of the composition. The duration of the recording must be between 3 and 5 minutes.
  • The participant must submit an application fee of $15. Fee payments can be made online on the application form. Credit card and PayPal are accepted.

Judging Criteria

A distinguished panel of judges will score and judge competition entries according to criteria provided below.

Creativity (40%)
Creative use of music composition elements including, but not limited to form, genre, groove/feel, melody, counterpoint, harmony, rhythm, and textures.

Orchestration (40%)
• Instrument parts are in playable range and are readable for college-level and professional musicians
• Lines and harmonies are effectively orchestrated
• Effective use of dynamics and articulation
• Effective utilization of the orchestra families
• Effective focus, balance and separation between multiple layers

Impact (20%)
• The composition is identifiable as Philippine folk music in an orchestral setting
• All audiences can relate to the piece (via subjective assessment by the judges)

Questions? Email pr@fasofoundation.org.

* Click here for an explanation of shorthand notation.

A photo of Adriel "Rush" Garcia in promotion of FASO@10 on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Alex Theatre.

Artist Spotlight: Composition Competition Winner Adriel “Rush” Garcia

We close our FASO@10 spotlight series with another very exciting announcement! We’re announcing the winner of our first-ever composition competition.

The International Composition Competition for Philippine Folk Music for students was established in honor of FASO’s tenth anniversary and dedicated to the promotion of Philippine folk music. All participants submitted an original composition for full orchestra that incorporated one or more themes from any Philippine folk song(s).

A photo of Adriel "Rush" Garcia in promotion of FASO@10 on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Alex Theatre.

Today, we’re featuring the winner of the competition, Adriel “Rush” Garcia! You can hear his award winning reinvention of the folk song “Ang Pipit” at FASO@10 this Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Alex Theatre! Read up on this talented young artist below!

1. Rush is a senior at the renown Oberlin Conservatory of Music. While he obviously has the chops of an accomplished composer and arranger, Rush majors in Trombone Performance! His skill with the trombone took him to NPR’s “From the Top” and won the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition!

2. Countless online communities know him best for his YouTube channel of orchestral arrangements and original works, which has over 96 thousand subscribers! The channel features a large assortment of his orchestral re-imaginings—of EDM producers’ works, songs from TV shows and more! But his most popular work is his soaring arrangement of “Hopes and Dreams” from the video game “Undertale,” which has over 12 million views!! We’ve got it here. And if you like what you hear, support Rush on Patreon!

3. Remember Dodjie Simon, who taught our Songwriting Workshop earlier this year? He and Rush collaborate as the musical duo Simon and Rush! Last year, they released “Des Rêves,” a classical crossover album. Here’s an epic, breathtaking track from the album that Dodjie wrote and Rush arranged.

4. In line with FASO’s own mission, Rush’s passion is mentoring young artists. In the future, he hopes to teach music in a high school!

5. Fun fact: Rush is an only child. He claims to be the favorite!

A photo of scholarship winner and FASO violinist Kaitlin Aquino in promotion of FASO@10 at the Alex Theater on Saturday, November 3, at 7:00 p.m.

Artist Spotlight: FASO Violinist & Scholarship Winner Kaitlin Aquino

A photo of scholarship winner and FASO violinist Kaitlin Aquino in promotion of FASO@10 at the Alex Theater on Saturday, November 3, at 7:00 p.m.

FASO@10 is this Saturday! For this special artist spotlight, we’re announcing the winner of our first-ever Filipino American Symphony Orchestra College Scholarship. This scholarship for graduating high school seniors required each applicant to write an essay in response to this prompt: “What does Philippine music mean to you?”

One of our youngest violinists, Kaitlin Aquino won with her riveting essay on her complicated relationship with her dual Filipina and American identities. Kaitlin’s a first-year English major at the University of California, Irvine with a strong passion for the performing arts, namely writing, and vocal, theatre and orchestral performance. She delights in being able to combine all four as a novice writer! Kaitlin’s also a member of the team behind our new Youth String Ensemble.

As a special treat for ya’ll, we’re sharing her winning essay below. We hope to see you all at FASO@10 this Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Alex Theatre! Enjoy!

Kaitlin Aquino’s Winning Essay for the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra College Scholarship

“You’re Filipino.”

“No, I’m not.” I retorted to my dad petulantly. I, at the age of six, would have never identified myself as so. “I’m American.”

“No,” he said gently. “You’re Filipino.”

“No, I am not.” I glared at him, denying his denial. “I’m American!”

“You’re Filipino!” he exclaimed. The corners of his mouth upturned. Much to my chagrin, he found my infantile frustration amusing.

I fought the urge to wail. It wasn’t easy trying to be taken seriously when you’re six. Insistent, I balled my hands into fists and huffed. “I am an American!” I am unsure of how such a conversation between my dad and I came about. But its unknown origin pales in comparison to its true meaning. I used those angry six-year-old hands to eat my “baon” at school–homemade “mongo” or adobo–until I was “busog;” turn on the fountain and quench my thirst with heaping gulps of running “tubig;” and greet my dad after school with a warm embrace when he arrived to pick me up and take me back to our “bahay.” And yet, with those same six-year-old hands I expressed a vehement, unequivocal rejection of the culture that had always been a constant, friendly presence in my life.

Now, before you raise your chin in contempt for a six-year-old version of myself, I entreat you to think twice before you judge. Though prevalent in my daily life, my Filipino culture only ran as deeply as the broken Tagalog I understood. At eleven years old, I spent an ordinary afternoon at the mall with my dad, my “titos” and “titas.” But it didn’t take long until this humble outing took an unexpected turn.

As we made our way through the corridors, mid-conversation, we suddenly stopped. Panicking, I brought my hand to my face, wiping the wetness away. Peering through stinging, water-filled eyes, I could barely make out the looks of sheer confusion and horror on my relatives’ faces. With tears down my face and a sniffling, snot-filled nose, I felt overwhelmingly like a pathetic baby in front of all my “titos” and “titas.” Already eleven, I was long past the stage of emotional instability. Bursting into tears in public without reason just wasn’t acceptable past age eight anymore.

Ridiculous as this sob session was, it came from a genuine place. While we were out and about at the mall, my relatives only spoke English if they absolutely had to. Otherwise, they talked up storms, hurricanes, cyclones in the language they knew best: Tagalog. So, while they all listened to each other intently, I sat picking at my portion of mall food, understanding little to nothing.

This wasn’t new to me. This was what spending time with them was usually like. But that’s why I cried so hard. I’d had enough of being excluded by my own family members. I knew they loved me and had no intention of leaving me out. But I let my frustration and grief build up for too long.

Unfortunately, I’ve never felt truly connected with anyone from my extended family.

Although no language barrier separated myself from my “ates” and “kuyas,’ a generational gap certainly did. Being the youngest of my generation, it was never easy for me to try bridging the 20-year age gap between myself and my cousins. Who could’ve guessed that people 20 years apart had vastly different interests?

Instead of seeing the truth of the matter—my inability to speak Tagalog and to truly understand the struggles of those much older—I blamed my culture.

The media didn’t make it any harder for me to hate my Filipino roots either. Although I don’t remember a particular show or movie expressing a distaste for foreign heritages, the overconsumption and subsequent glorification of American pop culture, coupled with my attendance at a school whose students weren’t the most celebratory of things foreign, subconsciously led me to believe my Filipino heritage was something to be embarrassed about. And being the impressionable grade-schooler I was, I accepted it. I told my dad I wanted Lunchables for “baon” instead of his home cooked meals. I often looked in the mirror, lamenting over my absence of pale skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair. I covered my ears every time Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” played in the car. I wanted to be American, not Filipino.

Obviously, my logic carries a huge flaw. I didn’t hate being Filipino. I didn’t hate coming home to a big bowl of “sinigang” after a long day, or doing karaoke at parties until the wee hours of the morning, or having annual Pacquiao fight viewing parties. Rather, I hated that I wasn’t immersed in my Filipino heritage enough, so that it could serve as an outlet to further connect me with my Filipino family. I made the mistake of equating family and culture: I sensed my family’s disapproval of myself, so I renounced their culture.

But as I’ve grown, I’ve had many enriching experiences that have led me to rethink my cruel misjudgment of my Filipino heritage—my experiences at FASO, consist of several. Just being surrounded by professional Filipino musicians was enough to re-instill, in me, a sense of Pinoy pride. But aside from being impressive, my fellow orchestra members were also very caring and kind. I’ll never forget how welcome they made both me feel, despite our crippling nervousness, as first-year apprentices.

I miss the Tuesdays my dad would pick me up from theatre and take me to FASO rehearsal. Admittedly, it was stressful. I was constantly scrambling to do some homework in the car before he parked in the church’s lot. Consistently, I entered the building anxious over the deadlines I had to meet. But after sitting down, picking up my violin, and taking in the warmth and artistic passion that filled the atmosphere, my concerns with my homework, my guilt over my past efforts to separate myself from Filipino culture, and my loneliness seemed to melt away. The only concern of importance was making sure the music we played—whether classical European, American contemporary, or Philippine folk—sounded the best it could be. And after two full hours of serenading the night away—the duration of our rehearsal complete—I always left hungry to play more.

To me, Philippine music is my way of reconnecting with the culture I wrongfully tried to cast aside. Whenever I played, through FASO, I felt relief and reconciliation—a time to heal the cultural wound I unthinkingly inflicted on myself.

Of course, it didn’t solve all my problems. I may feel a bit more connected to my “ates,” “kuyas,” “titos,” and “titas” than before, but the ever-present disconnect between us will never fail to make my heart ache.

It’s sad to say that this problem of mine is not a unique one. First-generation Americans all over the nation suffer from cultural identity crises; as they tread between several distinct cultures, they will never be able to fully submerge themselves in all, or even one.

As wonderful it would be to change the course of American pop culture and put national hostility toward foreigners to rest, it is unrealistic to hope for such a thing in the near or even far-reaching future. Instead, I think the solution is right in front of our eyes.

We don’t need to eliminate the cultural identity crisis today’s minority children face. Although my experience was grueling and painful, I wouldn’t trade it for anything easier. More than just a difficult experience, mine was a journey of self-discovery. And if others must take a similar painful path in order achieve something as priceless as cultural security and self-confidence, then so be it. As strange as it sounds, we need our minority children to struggle. For it will breed strength. And they need to be as tough as nails if they want to succeed.

So as Filipino and other minority children embark on their respective journeys of self-discovery, it’s my hope that cultural sanctuaries, like FASO, can help guide them in the right direction. Maybe they too will let the music of their own culture lead them out of their self-imposed darkness.

For a Filipino who can barely speak Tagalog, Philippine music is my cultural savior. Hopefully, music from other cultures can serve the same purpose.

At age fifteen, my dad called me American.

No longer the pouty, Pinoy-hating six-year-old I was, I replied, “No, I’m Filipino.”

Be a part of this history-making event as FASO celebrates 10 years of Filipino musical creativity and artistry on Saturday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m., at the Alex Theatre, on 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203. Order tickets online here and check out info on the Alex Theatre’s physical box offices here. Children 2 years of age and under may enter for free. Student discounts and group rates apply. Contact Louie Ramos at luisramos91201@gmail.com, for more info on those special prices.

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