The recently concluded Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales hailed Kammerchor Manila, a premier Filipino church chorale, as the 2023 Choir of the World.
Established in 1947, the multi-national inspirational cultural festival has since featured over 4,000 talented performers with musical and dance presentations in a unique combination of the spirit of participation, competition, friendship and global peace.
The Kammerchor Manila, a non-profit ensemble founded by award-winning musician Professor Fidel Calalang Jr. in 1992, bested 16 other participants from across the globe. They received the coveted Pavarotti Trophy and a cash prize of £3,000.
The Cantilon Chamber Choir from Canada, Delaware Choral Scholars from USA, and Le Voci from England shared the same spot as the runners-up.
For their winning entries, the Kammerchor Manila staged lauded renditions of Cast Thy Burden Upon the Lord, a sacred piece by one of the most recognized organists Alejandro Consolacion II, and Atsalums, Latvia composer Jëkabs Jančevskis’ contemporary take on the country’s traditional song.
The Kammerchor Manila was spearheaded by Anthony Go Villanueva, one of the country’s most esteemed conductor and pianist.
Villanueva and Krystl Buesa, both educators under the Music Production Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Arts, Culture, and Performance (SACP), shared that joining the Llangollen has been the team’s decade-long dream.
“We recognized how fortunate we were to have been granted the opportunity to represent the Philippines on a stage as prestigious as this,” he stated. “This might not happen again in the very near future.”
“We gave our all, bared our souls, and left our hearts onstage,” he recounted. “At the end of the day, our competitors were just as good. We left everything to God’s hands.”
The team was comprised of 34 vocalists, namely, Queenie Ann Adon, Renz Tee Apostol, Aerich Khan Balanggao, Maybelle Baldorado, Krystl Buesa, Diana Arvi Cadahing, Ma. Eloisa Contreras, Janine de Belen, Marlo del Rosario, Feb Justine Elvira, Lory Esperancilla, Jaymitch Ferolino, Arvin John Garcia, John Paul Guanzon, Junico Allen Herrera, Chian Kemp Ilagan, and Christian John Ibañez.
The group was completed by Sheryl Lagundino, Renz Marc Marcial, Warren Cris Magana, Caren Joy Mongcopa, Joel Nalda, Reniel Czar Nobleta, Lakasdiwa Paguia, Mariah Ericka Patawaran, Patricia Patnugot, Jamille Logmao, Ann Janine Lomentigar, Darwin Lomentigar, Ruffa Mae Robles, Roxanne Evette San Jose, Mark Jerome Silvestre, Ivan Jasper Sueña, and Kevin Anthony Yu.
Villanueva dedicated their achievement to those who supported their entire journey. “We are beyond thankful for the blessings that we received and this is not only for ourselves, but also for our families, friends, supporters, and most of all for God and the Philippines.”
Prior to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, the Kammerchor Manila was hailed as the Grand Prix Winner in 2021 Queen of the Adriatic Sea International Choral Festival and Competition in Italy, where Villanueva was named as the Best Conductor.
They hold multiple recognitions, including the Top Prizes in the 1st Leonardo Da Vinci International Choral Festival in Italy and 63rd Certamen Internacional De Habaneras Y Polifonia in Spain.
The choir is a three-time recipient of the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) Ani ng Dangal Award in 2016, 2019, and 2022. Villanueva likewise received his first individual award in 2022.