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Writer’s Recap: Quaran-TUNES plays for unity amid the pandemic

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The arts have been one of the hardest-hit industries by the pandemic. The shutting down of theaters and productions all over the country left thousands of creatives unmoored as artists are plunged deeper into crisis after crisis. It seemed like the magic of live performances wouldn’t be felt again for a long while. 

But the Lasallian Youth Orchestra (LYO) stands unwavering in its hope for a day where we may come together once again in celebration of the arts. Their recently-concluded three-part production, Quaran-TUNES, featured soulful musical arrangements in support of the growing Filipino arts sector through collaboration with Artists’ Welfare Project, Inc., 

The production’s three episodes, titled Relaxing with Rhythms, Winding down with Winds, and Sit down with Strings, effortlessly showcased the LYO’s innovative efforts to capture the beauty and synchronicities of orchestral music and provided eager listeners with a relaxing escape from the dissonance of everyday life.

Defying expectations

As a sum of its parts, orchestras require the ultimate collaboration to bring their melodies to life. Amid a pandemic, isolation requirements have made this sort of in-person togetherness nearly impossible. Still, LYO defied all odds with their production—showing the world that through effort and passion, art can triumph. 

The production spanned several months, with the first installment Relaxing with Rhythms held on March fifth. Audiences were regaled with jazzy and well-loved classics by the Rhythms section, with songs such as Don’t Know Why by Kenny G and a theme from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Someday my Prince will Come. The wide range of musical genres delivered was a testament to the LYO’s versatility and excellence. Paired with masterful visual design, the skillful execution of the orchestra’s rhythms section set the stage seamlessly for the rest of the production. 

Sit back and relax

The production’s final two episodes presented the Winds and Strings sections last April 16 and June 18. The second episode, Winding Down with Winds, opened with a rendition of the well-loved 70s classic After the Love has Gone, in collaboration with the Rhythms section. Also featured in the episode were the Bill Withers hit Just the Two of Us and the touching tune of Married Life. The orchestra’s meticulous attention to detail and organization shined through each flawless note as the stunning arrangements prompted listeners to wind down.   

The final episode, titled Sit down with Strings, featured the orchestra’s strings section. Collaborating with DLSU’s chorale, they played several crowd-pleasers that included Minuetto by Giovanni Bolzoni and I See the Light from Disney’s Tangled. 

This final installment left an impactful reminder to audiences that artistry will find a way no matter the circumstances. The added touch of each member’s visuals during every performance was the cherry on top, allowing audiences a personal glimpse into the lives of each performer. Although each one’s backgrounds—literally and figuratively—is different, they can come together and deliver one seamless story through the songs they play.

For a cause

Aside from shining a spotlight on Lasallian talent, the production also provided listeners with an avenue to support the nation’s arts sector through fundraising for the Artists’ Welfare Project, Inc., a certified non-governmental organization under the Securities and Exchange Commission striving for an empowered and self-reliant Filipino arts sector. As of their final episode, the organization raised a total of P26,989 for the cause—a well-deserved reward for their practice, planning, and execution.

Ultimately, the production went above and beyond to showcase the lengths that artistry may reach through passion and effort, despite the challenging circumstances. LYO’s graceful and innovative execution almost made it seem easy, but it is clear just how much dedication and love was put into every note with performances like theirs. 

By Iona Gibbs

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