FASO’s Artistic Leader: Robert Shroder

A photograph of Robert "Bob" Shroder, musical director and conductor of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra.

Musical Director & Conductor, Robert “Bob” Shroder

Robert Shroder is fulfilling destiny as musical director of the first Filipino American Symphony Orchestra. As a FilAm whose life has always been about music, it’s clear that he was born for this purpose. Destined to be the driving force behind FASO, Shroder fits all the requirements of an excellent musical director- a dynamic personality, a very good musician, outstanding experience and communication skills, an organized, efficient and driven leader.

By his name and appearance, Shroder seems to be as American as apple pie. But once you hear him talking in straight Tagalog, you’ll learn that he is as Pinoy as kare-kare and adobo. And this pride in being Filipino and his passion to cultivate love for Philippine arts and music help him accomplish beautifully what FASO been created to achieve.

“Pinoy na Pinoy ako!” Shroder proudly says. “I was born in Kawit, Cavite and didn’t immigrate to the US until 1991. My father, Jerald Vincent Shroder, was with the US Military stationed at Sangley Point. That’s where he met my mom, Rosalina Enriquez Samaniego.”

His masterful conducting has made him a favorite of several Filipino artists who know that with Shroder as musical director of their shows and concerts, they are assured a high level of musical success. As a conductor, Robert has impeccably sensitive ears, as well as a rhythmic and interpretative sense of musicianship. He is skillfully acquainted with every instrument of the orchestra, and is an outstanding flutist. He not only makes sure entries are made at the right precision and that there is a unified beat; Robert sets the tempo, executes clear preparations, listens critically and shapes the execution of the sound of the ensemble.

Shroder grew up in Kawit, Cavite and studied at Emilio Aguinaldo Elementary School, Kawit High School and San Sebastian High School. He then took up Music Conducting at the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music, with Flute as his major instrument under Professor Enrique Barcelo, then later concentrated in chamber music and conducting. While in college, he was also the principal flutist of the Philippine Youth Orchestra under the baton of Professor Sergio Esmilla Jr., and the leader and flutist of the UP Woodwind Quintet and Flute Ensemble. Due to his college standing as a consistent university scholar, he became qualified and was invited to join the Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity which was brought to the Philippine major music institutions by Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag.

Shroder admits his passion and talent for music are in his genes. “My lolo, who was my first music teacher, the father of my mom, Augusto Samaniego, was a member of the world renowned Philippine Constabulary Band, under the baton of Col. Walter Loving and Philippine National Artist Col. Antonino Buenaventura. They participated in the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held in Treasure Island, San Francisco. He was also the conductor of our local band in Kawit, the Magdalo Band. He took me to rehearsals, fiestas and to the different engagements of the band as a kid, so I grew up in that milieu. I inherited the conductorship of the band upon his retirement and death. As conductor of the Magdalo Concert Band from 1984 to the present, as honorary conductor, we performed classical music, overtures and marches during fiestas, wakes and other such community affairs,” he recalled.

Robert won the Grand Prize in the National Music Competition for Young Artists in 1982, which was sponsored by Imelda Marcos. He was the principal flutist of two major orchestras in the Philippines, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, the oldest symphony orchestra in Asia, where he was hired right after his graduation recital, and the Manila Chamber Orchestra where he was a member until immigrating to the US. He did some solo and chamber music engagements in different concert venues in the Philippines and other neighboring Asian Countries. Shroder also taught flute and chamber music in UP and did regular recording sessions for pop music and the Pilipino movie industry.

He immigrated in 1991 and first stayed in Ohio to spend some time with his relatives from the Shroder clan. There, he also conducted music workshops in local schools. Then, Bob moved to San Diego and eventually to Los Angeles. While in San Diego, he played with the Chula Vista Pops Orchestra, San Diego Community Band, the Al Bahr Shrine Concert Band and The Notables Big Band Jazz. He also directed church choirs and musicians during regular Sunday mass.

In Los Angeles, he was the founding conductor of the Boyle Heights Youth Symphony. Shroder is also the first Filipino-American in the symphony, which was founded in 2002. A favorite symphony of the Office of the Mayor, Shroder and his team frequently perform in government socials and community events.

Shroder is also a freelance musician and a member of the National Flute Association. He plays to a mixed audience for special events, which include the Mt. Washington Philharmonic Orchestra; but his favorite, of course, is performing for Filipino-American community events.

Robert and wife Amy have four children, Katrina, Timothy, Vanessa and Andrew. Vanessa is a flutist like her dad while Andrew is a singer. Since migrating to the States, Robert makes sure he and his family maintains close ties with the homeland. “We go back at least every other year to the Philippines. I am always in touch with friends and associates in the Philippines,” he said.

“Filipino orchestra musicians here in Southern California have long dreamed of founding a Filipino symphony orchestra not only for the Filipino community but for the mainstream music lovers. Thank God our dream has now come true,” Robert said excitedly.

Under Maestro Shroder’s skillful baton, FASO is sure to be a very dynamic orchestra. With his expertise, experience, and passion for music and Filipino culture, we can truly say there’s no better musical conductor to lead FASO than the maestro from Cavite—Robert Shroder.

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