Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga at the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection


(Image taken from http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Lea+Salonga/American+Heart+Association+Go+Red+Women+Red/i-GXHG3e9rq)

On February 8, Lea Salonga sang for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection 2018 fashion show. I had been picked to arrange and produce the backing track to her number. She featured it in a recent article in her Backstory column. http://entertainment.inquirer.net/261987/going-red-heart-disease. Video available here at the ABS CBN news website - http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/02/09/18/watch-lea-salonga-lends-voice-at-new-york-fashion-show-with-a-cause

So happy to have been a part of this production, even though I was on the other side of the world.


January saw me writing a lot of chamber and string quartet stuff, particularly for weddings. Wedding gigs aren’t my cup of tea, really.. but I just had to take the projects that came to me in January because they were quite out-of-the-ordinary. One involved three tunes from U2, arranged for string quartet.. the other involved this cool song from the chillout group, Bliss. The couple chose this song for their wedding march: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkuvUlA7AcE. I wrote an arrangement for that, for strings and woodwinds and choir, and my arranger friend Denis Catli did the programming for the backing tracks.

For February, it’s looking to be a busy month in terms of arrangements and jazz gigs. Recorded 5 tunes for my friend Ronald Tomas for his jazz album. In the meantime, Lea Salonga will be performing with the Bangkok Symphony on Feb. 14, so my cohorts and I are rushing some arrangements for that. I also have a few strings-y stuff to do for Noel Cabangon’s upcoming album. Then, I’ll be playing for Mishka Adams and Noel Cabangon for the Philippine International Jazz Festival. (here’s my sched)

In other news, I’ll be running my third half-marathon race on Feb. 6. I wasn’t able to finish my second race last November, due to sleepless nights (while scoring RPG Metanoia) and a foot/ankle injury, so in a way, I’ll be happy with a nice, injury-free finish for this upcoming one.

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Lea Salonga at Malaysia, May 22-23

From May 21-24, I will be in Malaysia to play 3rd keyboard for Lea Salonga. It will be my first time to visit that country. I’m very excited to be playing for Lea again, and looking forward to the Malaysian food that a lot of my friends have raved about. I’m also looking forward to hanging out with the rest of the band, most of whom are also my colleagues at FILharmoniKA.

Gerard Salonga - Musical director/1st keyboard
Bond Samson - 2nd keyboard
Ria Osorio - 3rd keyboard
Ardie De Guzman - guitar
Joji Magadia - bass
Jorge San Jose - drums

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(photo and article taken from http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/5/7/nation/6207855&sec=nation)

KUALA LUMPUR: Award-winning international theatre actress and singer Lea Salonga (pic) makes her debut concert, An Evening With Lea Salonga, on May 22 and 23 at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.
The Filipino singer and actress is best known for her musical roles inMiss Saigon, Les Miserables andFlower Drum Song. The 39-year-old is also recognised as the singing voice of Disney's animated roles - namely Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin and Fa Mulan for both the Mulan movies.
An Evening With Lea Salonga is organised by R&B Productions Sdn Bhd and presented by Malaysia Airlines' Enrich in partnership with CIMB Bank. The performance on May 22 is exclusively for Enrich and CIMB Bank card members while the May 23 performance is open to the public.
“We are excited about Lea's inaugural concert in Malaysia. Lea has had an illustrious musical theatre career and has been honoured with numerous awards, including the Olivier Award, Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Theatre Los Angeles Ovation Awards.
“Hopefully, she will be an inspiration for Malaysian youth who aspire to launch a career in theatre and acting,” said Rahmah Datuk Mahmood, director of R&B Productions Sdn Bhd, during the press conference here.
This year, Malaysia Airlines' Enrich celebrates its 10th anniversary. Salonga's concert is part of Enrich's Music Indulgence to reward its customers. In March, Enrich brought in contemporary R&B singer Babyface.
“The Enrich Music Indulgence is just one part of an exclusive series of activities supporting the airline's 10th anniversary celebrations,” said Malaysia Airlines corporate marketing and loyalty programme general manager Raja Datuk Nordiana Zainal Shah.
Tickets are priced at RM853, RM553, RM353, RM253 and RM153 and are available at Axcess ticketing online. Early bird tickets for May 22 are entitled up to 35% discount till May 15. Customers can get a 25% discount from May 16 onwards. Enrich and CIMB Bank card members can receive a 20% discount for May 23's performance. For details, call 03-7711 5000 or browse
aneveningwithleasalonga.com oraxcess.com.my.


Just Some Updates (a.k.a. Why I Haven't Been Updating my Blog)

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last wrote a blog post! Bad blogger...

Just so you know I’m not merely being a lazy blogger, here’s what I’ve been up to the past weeks.

1. Writing for the Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestra.

The piece I wrote for their Christmas concert features the HKPO with the 70+ piece Hong Kong Philharmonic Children’s Choir. This will be the first time that none of my arranger teammates will be present for an HKPO concert that we have written for. In the past 2 years that we’ve been arranging for HKPO, Gerard Salonga usually conducted the HKPO’s concerts where our arrangements were involved. There was also one concert where JD and I were able to watch them, which was Lee Hom Wang’s Christmas concert last year. HKPO is a bunch of really superb musicians.

2. Writing for Jeremy Monteiro’s big band Christmas special concert at The Esplanade, Singapore.

Jeremy Monteiro is one of the leading jazz artists in Asia. I was very fortunate to have been selected for this project, which features top artists from all over Asia! From the Philippines, we have our own Tots Tolentino and Eddie Sangcap in the saxophone section. Visit this site to view details about the concert, as well as the featured guests. Here’s a current favorite tune of mine, from one of Jeremy Monteiro’s various groups, Asiana. (Tots Tolentino is part of said group)

3. Writing for Lea Salonga Your Songs Concert

This is the concert where Lea is singing all the most requested songs. Since July 2009, requests have been sent, and from those requests, the production team selected the most popular tunes. So this is Lea as you haven’t seen before! FILharmoniKA will be accompanying her, conducted by Gerard Salonga. I’ll be playing second keyboard in this concert as well. FILharmoniKA is currently becoming one of the most in-demand orchestras in the Philippines. I feel I’ve grown a lot during these past years because of their musicianship, and because of the opportunities for me to write for them, and also the guidance/tips from Gerard and the rest of our team of arrangers.

4. Various playing gigs

Flow, the big band/acrobat/musical special of PAGCOR, has been going strong. Last November, I played in ten shows. I’m not actually the main pianist for this show, but Nikko Rivera, a very talented virtuoso.. I’m supposed to be his alternate, but I guess that’s how busy he is, that I get to play in that show a lot! Even though I’m already up to my neck in arranging deadlines, I still try to squeeze in some time to play keyboards. Especially for Flow, since I get a kick out of participating in two worlds (many times, on the same day) - Orchestra in Carmel House studio during the day and Big Band at night. Oh, and not to mention, I get to see my father too - Mel Villena, who leads the 22-piece band. He wrote most of the music for the show.

Aside from this, I was also able to play in some FILharmoniKA shows, and some shows with Lea Salonga. It’s a nice break from writing, and sitting in my computer chair for 10-14 hours in a day. (It’s also the only social life I have at this point, aside from Facebook and the occasional mountain-bike ride with buddies).

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It's In the Genes

Hi! I'd like to share with you guys a song from Lea Salonga's May 2008 Concert, My Life on Stage.

May 2008. I only had less than a full day to finish the music and orchestration, but this had been one of the serendipitous times when everything just seemed to fall into place. Maybe it is true, that deadlines are the best inspiration.

Direk Freddie made some awesome lyrics. One look at it even without the music, and it already sounds like a song.

A few hours before this was due for submission and rehearsal, I suddenly got sore eyes. I couldn't see the notes on the computer anymore and I had to forego rehearsals. So Gerard and the orchestra rehearsed without me. Later that day I realized that the sore eyes had been a false alarm. There was no virus. I guess my body was just reacting to the stress. Yet I don't view stress negatively as I used to. Stress is beneficial, if not downright necessary, for certain tasks. Especially in performing or creating. Just try not to be in that state everyday, I guess, so there'll be balance.

In hindsight, maybe I unconsciously willed the sore eyes into existence, so I'd have an excuse to disappear - as I was really worried about the music not turning out well. He he.

But turn out well, it did. Lea and Gerard Salonga, plus FILharmoniKa - what could go wrong?

Notice here that Lea enters without any lead-in or pitch reference. That's why I could forego putting an intro. My golly.

(Lyrics below the video. Video credits go to bubbliehappy2)

Words by Freddie Santos
Music and arrangement by Ria Osorio

It's in the genes I tell you
It's in the genes, I know
It's in the genes, they compel you
To know exactly where you want to go

It's in the genes forever
It's in the genes, no choice
It's in the genes, whatever
Whether kicking up or acting out, or tuning in your voice

Maybe who knows, there could have been other choices
If I had a different DNA
But then again though, looking at all other choices
Every single one just pointed me this way

So now I'm here as always
And what a life it's been
On center stage, not just the hallways
It goes whatever stage of life I'm in

As a little girl, an awkward teen
A singing actress in between
Someone in love, a wife and mom
How good to know where it all comes from

It's in the genes that says it
It's in the perfect page
And this whole life, God bless it
Will always find its life on center stage

On stage, my life, my life
Thank goodness for genetics!
On stage

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Related posts:

What I've Been Doing This Week
Arranging Muscles

What I've Been Doing This Week


This week, aside from my usual Singing Bee load, we've been editing material for Lea Salonga's performance at the Disney Concert Hall on Friday, July 11 2008. We've been tailoring the pieces to fit the instrumentation - a 6-piece rhythm section plus a string section - distributing assignments to the synths and percussion. Usually I don't like editing anything - be it music sheets or words on a paper. It might be because my strength is in painting with broad strokes, not in the little details. Or so I think. But of course, I know I ought to get better in that too.

But I find that I'm enjoying this particular task because I'm getting to peek at and analyze the scores. It's like getting arranging lessons for free.

That's it for now - thanks for dropping by.


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Arranging Muscles

Whew! The past month was a total whirl. All in all these were stuff I did (from mid-April till May 21):

- an arrangement for the Philippine Youth Symphonic Band (will post it here soon as I get a copy of the performance)
- approximately 20 songs for Singing Bee each week
- 6 orchestra arrangements for Lea’s My Life On Stage concert, some of which were original compositions/themes
- 2 string quartet arrangements for Aiza Seguerra’s album (Singapore release), which were started on a few hours before the recording
- a theme song for the Breast Cancer foundation, fully orchestrated
- the foreword for a friend’s upcoming book
- a recording of my vocals for a friend
- a theme song for a popular milk brand (don’t know yet if it’ll get approved)
- running to and from various rehearsals and recordings for the projects above

As I look at the list, I am wondering how it all fit in that span of time. But I do did learn something here... When the task list, or the project, seemed impossible within the given time, that's because it probably was. I knew my own pacing and capabilities, and I knew I've never done this before. So it was to my benefit that at those moments, I forgot about timetables, time management, and such. At that particular point, making timetables would only make the impossible seem more impossible. So I went into it with a "just finish it" kind of mentality. What I got out from it was I was pushed to do things I could not do before.

Am certainly not complaining, but I could use a break. The past weeks felt like a total workout for my arranging and songwriting muscles. It gave me a good high, but as with seasons, there is a time to go all out, and there is a time to lie back and savor the sweet summer air. (What? Summer's over? Hmm. Must've passed by while my nose was buried in the computer)

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My Life On Stage, Lea Salonga’s 30th anniversary concert, will be running on its last night tonight. Last night was a success. I’ve been enjoying playing the synth part to double the orchestra strings (since we only have 3 first violins and 3 second violins). The tricky part is to blend in with the real strings, using the expression pedal at the right times and making sure the attacks are smooth, and swelling at the right moments. Of course I also had a wayward note here and there – when I wasn’t too careful about my attacks, a note would stick out. Oops!

Lea is one of the most talented people on earth. Of course, I needn't say that here, most Pinoy musicians already know that. It's such a joy to witness it firsthand.

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