Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra & The Movies

Just a little more than a year ago the newly christened Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) debuted with a gala concert at the Saban Theatre in Hollywood, mesmerizing the audience with elegant artistry.

Next came a holiday season concert, where the 65-member orchestra wowed the community once more with a commanding performance and amazing choirs and vocalists.

The third time promises to be just as charming when music lovers from throughout the Filipino-American community in Southern California get treated to another unique concert, this one scheduled for Saturday, July 10, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

The upcoming concert will offer more than music, appealing also to film buffs. Indeed the performance is billed as “FASO Goes to the Movies,” and will feature renditions of famous songs from the silver screen, including themes from well-loved Hollywood and Filipino movies.

FASO has earned a reputation for putting on amazing shows, but organizers are especially excited about this one, calling the repertoire “a feast for the soul and the senses.” The performance will bring the usual auditory experience, but also offer a visual experience and a unique display of authentic Filipino culture.

The visuals will come from video clips of famous movies shown as FASO plays the accompanying theme, according to Musical Director and Conductor Bob Shroder. The effect will not only accentuate the song but will also trigger memories, with the short clips reinforcing the emotions set off by the music of the live orchestra.

The concert will also hew to FASO’s mission by including a grand display of the Philippines’ rich culture through movies and themes from the Pacific Island nation. The effort marks a continuation of Shroder’s efforts to ensure that each FASO concert will not just feature a symphony orchestra will also provide a Filipino cultural experience for the audience.

“Our objective is to bring Filipino culture to America via a repertoire of Filipino music, as performed by a live orchestra, most of whom are Filipino musicians,” Shroder says.

Roger Oriel, founder of FASO and chairman of the Asian Journal Foundation, a driving force in support of the orchestra, says that all the effort is about the musicians as well as the music.

“The goal of Filipino artists must be to maximize their full potential and showcase their God-given talents to inspire and benefit the world,” Oriel said. “Our challenge at Asian Journal Foundation is to give to these Filipino artists the support they need to reach that goal, through the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra. FASO Goes to the Movies will surely showcase the outstanding talents of our Filipino artists here in LA.”

Many Filipino-Americans are expected to travel for hours for the concert, based on turnouts at FASO’s first two events.

“FASO has touched a chord in the community’s heart,” says Lito Cruz, a co-founder of the orchestra. “It has become its muse in the short time since its first concert. But as the saying goes, how do you keep the music playing? By supporting FASO.”

Ticket sales for all three of FASO’s performances have been brisk, indicating that the community is touched and willing to support the effort.

“Many families and organizations have bought tickets early to get the good seats,” said Andy Tecson, who plays the violin in the orchestra and is one of those in charge of ticket sales.

“We certainly won’t miss this third concert,” said Virgie, a Filipino-American teacher who lives in Los Angeles. “I’m so excited to hear my favorite Hollywood and Filipino movie themes played by FASO.”

The musical pieces will range from Hollywood classics such as the themes from “Somewhere in Time,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “Star Wars,” “Schindler’s List,” “Titanic,” and “Scent of a Woman.” Filipino favorites will include themes and clips from films such as “Maalaala Mo Kaya?” (Do You Remember?), “May Bukas Pa” (There is Tomorrow), and a number of George Canseco songs.

FASO Goes to the Movies will feature well-known guest vocalists, including Edsel Sotiangco, who will sing “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” “Go the Distance” from “Hercules,” and a medley of Filipino theme songs. Ed and Annie Nepomuceno will sing a couple of duets from the movies “Maalaala Mo Kaya? (Do You Remember?)” and “Hindi Kita Malimot (I Won’t Forget You).” Soprano Joan Cano will sing “Ang Maya” from the movie of the same title.

“Each FASO concert takes you to another time and place,” Oriel says. “Seeing the joy in the faces of the orchestra members and the audience makes it all worthwhile. I know we’ve done something right. And if it brings harmony in the community, then FASO has found a home in every Filipino’s heart.”

For tickets for FASO Goes to the Movies, call Andy Tecson at (213) 300-4870; Bob Shroder at (818) 395-8936; Amirah Limayo (213) 820-5248; or the offices of the Asian Journal (213)250-9797.

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