Pampanga, Philippines – Twelve new, a-year-in-the-making songs of praises illuminated the 9th International Music Summit (IMS) held November 29, Monday, at the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga. The 12 songs, each from its respective choir division, were presented at the IMS Chorale Festival, dedicated not for presidents and kings but for the God of Israel.
IMS is an annual one-stop-shop whole day affair for everything musical in the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Its highlight is the Choral Festival, where choral groups from different divisions present their original compositions in awe-inspiring musical productions. This year, the 12 participating divisions in the festival include Bulacan, Pampanga, Quezon-Marinduque, Metro Manila, Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro-Romblon (LBMR), Bicol, Rizal, Cavite, North 2, Central Apalit, Canada, and the Prison Ministry.
In a two-year streak, the Metro Manila Division, home of the biggest chorale ensemble, took the Best Interpretation and Best Composition awards, the only awards for the night, for their majestic song “Let’s Have Some Conversation”. With headcount that blots an entire stage, their overpowering performance proved once more that there is strength in a massive concerted effort aimed to bringing out the best of the best of praise songs. Their winning composition shall soon be heard in Ang Dating Daan Bible Expositions, the inimitable segment of radio-TV-internet program Ang Dating Daan hosted by MCGI Presiding Minister, Bro. Eliseo Soriano.
A vital part of IMS is the nurturing of God-given talents among choir members. It conducts a regular “Music Clinic” designed to address all aspects of choral singing, including technical and spiritual. The two-and-a-half hour lecture ranges from designating voices to soprano, alto, tenor and bass, cultivating voice quality through proper vocalizations, correcting posture and breathing, repairing tone deafness, teaching proper syllabications and accents, to instructing proper execution of duties and responsibilities.
The main lecturer for this year’s Music Clinic was composer, Norman Rueda, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Music, Major in Composition.
Rueda, who has composed many of the special songs or “tanging awit” being sung in MCGI during thanksgiving days and in local activities, serves as conductor to the Music Ministry Core (MMC), the IMS organizer. His eye defect notwithstanding, which rather provided him a sharper grasp of sounds, Rueda completed his degree in music through the encouragement of another accomplished composer, none other than MCGI Vice Presiding Minister, Bro. Daniel Razon. This “little” encouragement proved fateful and created a great impact to the present landscape of MCGI Music Ministry.
During the Music Clinic, Rueda talked about the basic rehearsal procedures and how they are applied in the professional world.
“We in the chorus class, we do rehearsals only for one hour. In that duration we practice seven pieces. That’s the professional way. But of course we are not professionals; because we are more than professionals. We are Christians.”
Half an hour during his lecture, Rueda introduced 80-year-old pianist, Grace Melendrez, a former professor at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music. Melendrez, who was baptized in the Church of God just last year, taught in the university for three decades. Upon sitting down in front of her piano onstage, she went right down to imparting some of her time-tested musical wisdom.
“We talk first of the diaphragm; that is the (breath) support. And you never raise your shoulders when you breathe; it’s always here about the waistline.”
Another special portion of this year’s IMS were the graduation rites of trainees from the ADD Chamber Orchestra and the National Choir. These two groups were formed through the initiative of Bro. Eli a few years ago, and are now crucial parts of the Music Ministry.
The 10 graduates from the ADD Chamber Orchestra consisted of 4 violin players, 3 violas, 2 cellos, and 1 clarinet. The clarinet player was the first wind instrumentalist to graduate from the group. With musical director, Michael Santos, the orchestra conducts training programs every Sunday, which includes music theory, solfeggio, and musical dictation.
For the National Choir, 34 trainees graduated after a year and two months of training under musical director, Norman Rueda, and mentors, Rainelda Viray, Ronaldo Deticio, Michaela Radomes, and NC President, Rey Jebulan. The NC’s main role is to sing in the 24/7 singing of praises to God and other special activities. Both the National Choir and the ADD Chamber Orchestra are being provided with all their needs by Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel.
For eight years, the annual Music Summit has never gone by without hearing the most important voice in the event, the voice of the preachers of God. This year, however, due to Bro. Eli’s nonstop Bible expositions primarily in North America, which recently added more than 2,000 newly baptized souls in the Church of God, his steward to taking care of the brethren, Bro. Daniel, was quick to fill the gap despite his almost equally hectic schedule. Bro. Daniel’s speech revolved around the parallelism of God-given opportunity and God-given talents.
“The opportunity given by God is not an opportunity to do evil. It just happens that others use their special characteristics in evil deeds. For example, he is strong; he then used his strength in bullying and harassing people.
“God gives us something special that makes us differ from others. Isn’t it special that you have learned how to read notes and play the violin and sing high notes? How will you relate that to the opportunity given by God? Opportunity is given by God for you to do good, not evil. As much as the opportunity given by God is an opportunity to do good, everything that God gives you, including your talent, including everything that you have received, God gives you that for you to do His will and His goodness. That is the parallelism.”
The 9th International Music Summit started at 8am and ended at 10pm, monitored through live streaming in various countries. Next year, IMS is expected to produce another set of regal songs of praises to the God of Israel, God willing.