I could’ve sung with Lea!

22 12 2009

THE PROBLEM with Ms. Lea Salonga is that she has consistently been an excellent and oustanding performer that sometimes, her amazing vocals and impeccable phrasing would just pass you by.  That is not to say that she can no longer stop us on our tracks when she hits those notes.  Because frankly, she still does.  She ALWAYS has.  It’s just that since we have been so used to her level of excellence, we have already exhausted all superlatives to describe her.  And sometimes, we’d fall prey to throwing blurbs like “wonderful!”, “astonishing!”, “captivating!”, “truly world-class!” in our attempt to accord her artistry the respect and recognition it deserves.  And when we do, we actually are just trying to say that she – the Ms. Lea Salonga – has done it again.

That was exactly how I felt, standing firmly on my two feet for nearly an hour and a half, as I watched her free Christmas Concert at the Activity Center of the Alabang Town Center last Sunday, the 20th of December.  I was there – ticketless – at the mercy of whatever firm foundation my two feet could provide.  I had to chide myself repeatedly as the voice over kept repeating his spiels.  “I should be one of those few lucky people cordoned off from the maddening crowd.”  If only I took the little time it needed to turn thousands and thousands of pesos worth of Christmas shopping into free tickets.  Oh well.

I have to give it to Ayala Malls for pulling all stops in turning the Alabang Town Center Activity Center into something that brings a colossal concert hall to mind!  Honestly, days ahead I couldn’t envision how they’d put up a set design that would do justice not only to Ms. Salonga but also to Musical Director Gerard Salonga and the Filharmonika.  But they did.  From the mall’s ceiling they hung pristine white drapes that gave the impression of a major stage.  And they put up all the lights and spotlight that were needed – not to drown the show’s featured artist but to reinforce the brilliance of her own ethereal luminosity.

I’ve been to numerous mall shows and I couldn’t help but take note that this one started at 6:00 PM on the dot.  Wow, a free concert that didn’t make the people wait.  That’s a first.  It spoke volumes of the professionalism of Ms. Salonga.  Seriously.  Gerard Salonga was a commanding presence conducting the Filharmonika.  With the very first authoritative, powerful gesture of the kapellmeister’s hand, I felt Christmas had come upon me.

Profuse with the meaning of the season from its title alone – “A Chance To Share” – Ms. Salonga’s concert’s repertoire was a stunning showcase of her musical gift.  She was a most selfless act as she shared a moment with the Woodrose and De La Salle Zobel choirs who sang two songs and backed her up in the finale; and one lucky audience member who was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sing a duet with West End and Broadway’s original Kim.  The choirs were fabulous!  When they hit that high note on the line “Pick up your feet” from “Jingle Bell Rock,” I swear I thought all our hearts’ wishes for the best Christmas ever went shooting through the roof all the way to heaven.  All the more that we wanted to whole-heartedly give to Ms. Salonga’s concert’s cause.

Ms. Salonga sang a total of 11 songs.

Be Brave Little One.

Two Words.  She lovingly paid tribute to the lyricist and composer, Mr. Louie Ocampo.  I just had to text my good good friend Rizzie Cruz Ocampo-Lontoc to tell her that Ms. Salonga acknowledged her Tito Louie.

Grown-Up Christmas List.

Part Of Your World.  Ms. Salonga is truly unrivaled in singing Disney.  Her enunciation, her diction, her phrasing – flawless.  Interesting bit of trivia:  this was her audition piece that got her the Mulan part.

Reflection.  She sang the full version.

A Place Called Home.  I’m unfamiliar with this song.  Yet, with the first line, she captured my attention and managed to tug at my heartstrings.

Nothing (from the musical “A Chorus Line”).  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

A Whole New World.  The duet that never was!  I was so envious of the very talented lady she picked from the audience.

Everybody Says Don’t (from “Anyone Can Whistle”).  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  There’s just no other way to describe what she did with the song.

One Voice.  Listening to her sing, her vocals buoyed by the angelic voices of the Woodrose and De La Salle Zobel Choirs, I almost immediately wanted to do my part to make this world a better place.

Encore:  The Christmas Song.

What?  This free show that featured the country’s best musical artist gave in to demands for an encore?  Yes.  I guess it was yet again a generous gesture from Ms. Salonga who had, at that moment, unknowingly breathed life to her concert’s purpose – the chance to share.

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