July 18, 2016

 (Published in The Philippine Star – July 18, 2016)

A tale of two PPO musicians

By Irene Obligacion Rada 

 MANILA, Philippines – Percussion player Edward Ison, 22, and double bass player Manny Piñon, 67, were two of the 80-plus members of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) that were in New York City for their June 18 performance at the historic and prestigious Carnegie Hall. This performance by the PPO was the first at Carnegie Hall and the first-ever by a Filipino orchestra on US soil.

It was also Ison’s and Piñon’s first time in the US.

Ison is a Music graduate of the Philippine Women’s University where he studied with Professor Leo Roque, the principal of the percussion section of the PPO.  It was Roque who convinced Ison to apply for the PPO in 2014.

About being in NYC to play at the Carnegie, Ison said it was like a dream. “I couldn’t believe it would actually happen. I am so blessed to have been part of the PPO in this historic concert.” 

Ison’s wish for himself is to strive to be accepted as a regular PPO member someday. And he prays and hopes that the PPO will reach musical heights that will make them perform at par with other orchestras and be recognized worldwide.

Piñon started out with the PPO in 1976.  He is from Angono. He was a member of the Angono Rizal band, headed by National Artist for Music Maestro Lucio San Pedro. He has performed with the PPO in these countries: Hong Kong in 1978 and 1990; Malaysia in 1980 and Brunei after Malaysia. He has performed with outstanding foreign conductors and he feels that the orchestra needs these foreign conductors because they will learn a lot from each other. Piñon taught at the Conservatory of Music in the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2009.

“Performing at the Carnegie Hall in New York is an accomplishment for the PPO and for me as a musician,” Piñon said. A lot of musicians do not get the opportunity to perform in such a prestigious hall, and for that I am grateful to the CCP.”

The Carnegie Hall concert was made possible in cooperation with Philippine Airlines (the official carrier of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra), Smart Infinity, Rustan Commercial Corporation, One Meralco Foundation, with the support of PLDT Smart Foundation, Federal Land Inc., Metrobank Card Corporation, Ayala Corporation and Ayala Land Inc.

Proceeds from the concert will go to a housing project of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) in Tacloban for typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) victims.

The concert at the Carnegie also featured pianist Cecile Licad and violinist Diomedes Saraza, both first-class Filipino musicians.

Previous international performances by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra have brought the orchestra on a European tour in 2001 as well as concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, China; Bangkok, Thailand; and Japan.  The uniqueness of the Carnegie Hall concert aims to bring pride to the multitudes of Filipinos living on both coasts of the country and celebrating the Filipino spirit through music.