The existence of the Space..

Check out this space from time to time for upcoming news and updates, as well as random ramblings and thoughts about what lies beyond the horizon.

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Sa Dakong Kawala: Mga Eksenang Binaon ng Alon

Posted on September 5, 2016 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo: (In sound booth, left to right) Riley Palanca, Dominique Brillantes. I (far right) manned the recording and mixing while also taking part in the dialogue. Taken at the CKUT 90.3 FM studio in Montreal.


As a political protest to the Philippine government's initiative to bury former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes), playwright/spoken word artist Riley Palanca and I collaborated in a radio play depicting vignettes referencing to connections between the atrocities of the past Marcos regime and the present government's haphazard campaign against drugs. I took charge of the music and sound design, and we pulled it off within a very short two-week timeline! Sigaw ng Bayan aired the recorded radio play at CKUT 90. 3 FM (Montreal) on 02 September 2016. Principle voice actors included Dominique Brillantes, Elesser Bulatao and yours truly. Other participants include Sarah Christina Ganzon, Jayson Palolan, Herman Tubungbanua and flutist Emmanuelle Monnier.


You can listen to the play in Sigaw ng Bayan's Soundcloud page.

PIVOT, a mentorship program for Canadian composers

Posted on August 8, 2016 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)


While I didn't make it as a finalist of the Symphony Number One's previous Call for Scores 3, another opportunity is coming up in collaboration, this time, with the Continuum Contemporary Music this 2016-2017! Entitled PIVOT, this initiative by the Canadian Music Centre and the Canadian League of Composers selected me along with 5 other Canadian composers to write a new piece for the ensemble in close supervision with our individual mentors and premiere them in Toronto on March 2017. They assigned me with Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith for mentoring, and I'll work with her in the following months to write a piano+percussion duo and a quartet that will be combined together to make up a whole sextet piece. Professional development seminars will be held there for us as well. Details will be up nearing the premiere date of my work, so stay tuned.


On a sidenote, my Masters thesis was recently submitted and approved in McGill University this early August 2016. It's official then: I've just completed my Masters degree in Composition!

Symphony Number One's Call for Scores 3!

Posted on July 14, 2016 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)


I'm fortunate to be selected as a nominee for the first phase of Symphony Number One's Call for Scores 3! For the subsequent phases of the call, they will select 12 finalists from the 30 nominees and will finally pick three whom they will award commissions and other opportunities for SNO's 2017-18 concert season.


They also recently created an "Audience Choice Award" where the composer with the most votes from fans and supporters will be included in the orchestra's shortlist of potential collaborators for the 2017-18 season. So yes, that means me asking anyone out there to support and vote for me through this link here. My Soundcloud account is always here if you're interested in listening to my works so far. Your vote will be very much appreciated!


Photo: Symphony Number One Facebook page

Premiere of "C'est tellement mystérieux, les pays des larmes..."

Posted on June 19, 2016 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)



Photo: [On stage, left to right] Carly Gordon, oboe; Darren Creech, piano; Michael Mansourati, tuba. [Back of auditorium] Julia Gjebic, oboe.


Participating in another edition of the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab this June 2016 paved the way for another premiere of a new work entitled C'est tellement mystérieux, le pays des larmes... for two oboes, tuba and piano. This work employs the full performance space, creating imbalanced, polarized positionalities wherein musicians nonetheless attempt to interact with one another. As a personal comment, I would admit that this work is quite autobiographical as well, being inspired by notions of "Othering" and by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince (where the title came from). Of course, I was privileged with having great performers like Carly Gordon, Julia Gjebic, Michael Mansourati and Darren Creech.


The uploaded recording in my Soundcloud account though isn't the best thing, as applying physical spatialization also requires a technical plan for the recording setup in which the Lab isn't capable of working it out at that time. Hopefully, another opportunity comes up for a proper recording of the work.

Sound art episode at Sigaw ng Bayan MTL!

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)


My acousmatic miniature works Je suis d'un pas rêveur le sentier solitaire... (my contribution to the Listening Terminals installation in the Project Bakawan Arts Festival last March 2015) and ...J'aime à revoir encor, pour la dernière fois... were featured in a special Sound Art episode of Sigaw ng Bayan MTL (radio talk show) last 22 January 2016! Airing at CKUT 90.3 FM, the show highlighted some of the sound artists residing in Montréal who are Filipino/Filipino-Canadian (including Maggot Breeder and Place d'Armes). It is indeed surprising to me that there are kababayan artists in the hood who also do experimental/non-mainstream work! It also seemed to be a first within the show's 16-year history that sound art was heard on the local waves within a community-based context.


In addition to that, these works are included in my 4-part collection of acousmatic miniatures now officially named L'automne. I just recently finished the third installment for this collection named ...Ce soleil pâlissant, dont la faible lumière..., and you can check them all in my Soundcloud playlist.


For those who don't know, I started volunteering as a producer and host in this particular show for more than a year now. Being involved in community radio, I also find it so exciting that this space could actually be a platform for me as a composer to disseminate my work. "Community radio" and "contemporary music" doesn't seem to go together the first time around, but I realized that all it takes is to be creative in producing shows and structuring/diversifying the programming to allow such a space to materialize. I've already started doing short sound art montages for certain episodes, and this could be a fruitful exploration for me as a composer.


I hope that more spaces and projects like these would materialize not only for its own sake, but also to educate, accommodate the needs of the community, and cater to aspiring artists within the community as well.

The 33rd Asian Composers League Festival in Manila, Philippines!

Posted on November 20, 2015 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Photo: (left to right) Mikhail Senson, Kevin Castelo.


It was a great pleasure for me to be included once again in this festival, especially that it was scheduled to happen in the homeland! Thanks to a travel grant, I got back home for the first two weeks of November 2015 and be nostalgic about a lot of things. To top it off, my work Gandingan sa Kagiliran (now in its 4th performance since the premiere two years ago!) is included in the festival programming, performed by percussionists Kevin Castelo and Mikhail Senson.


Festival details are found here.


Maybe I should just write some other time about this experience (that surprisingly gave me a different kind of culture shock). Expect ideas like imaginations of place, mobility, and homecoming the next time I come around this subject again.

McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble

Posted on October 20, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)


Under the direction of Guillaume Bourgogne, the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble started on its 2015-2016 concert season this 16th of October 2015, with the premieres of Patricia Almeida's Tempus Fugit and my own work Wilujeng for large ensemble on the program. Franco Donatoni's Holly (with soloist Jacqueline Leclair on the English horn and oboe) and Helmut Lachenmann's Mouvement (-vor der Erstarrung) complete the whole repertoire in this concert of contemporary music.


The recording of the performance is already up! Check it out in my Soundcloud page.

From miniatures to translations of languages

Posted on October 17, 2015 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo: Rehearsal during the Kansas City-Montréal Exchange, a project initiated by the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab and the Black House Collective.


October 17, 2015. 3:30 AM. This was a rather long-delayed update, but at least I get to reflect on the lab sessions and readings I've participated in during the summer of 2015. Add to it the premiere of my new large chamber piece Wilujeng by the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble just a few hours ago at Pollack Hall. Since these projects happen to coincide along with my thesis writing in the form of Wilujeng that's supposed to be finished in time for the August deadline, I end up getting caught up in a whirling state of mind as I try writing and struggling, project after project. I've decided early on to write miniature sketches for these reading sessions as it would be easier for me to accomplish them.


Three words: It was crazy.


Of course, with the given time constraints for the spring-summer projects, writing miniatures would be the most practical thing to do. And yet, doing them is a fascinating thing for me. Funny that it's completely the opposite of my way of writing (articulating ideas in words), because I always tend to want to go on and on when I write using words. But when I don't feel a need to compose a 10-minute work, I usually just resort to creating short moments of aural snapshots. Yes, I like comparing miniatures to snapshots, to frozen images of sound. If music is but a fleeting moment, miniatures are the best models of such manifestations of temporal conditions. With this in mind, I composed two miniatures for different sextet groups (one for the Kansas-Montréal project in April and June, and one for a reading with Ensemble Transmission) and based them on my attempts to understand Indonesian gamelan music more.


I always have to remind myself why, of all the things that I can explore, it should be gamelan music. My fascination with the musical landscape and culture along with it may seem comparable to an outsider's fascination with something he/she exoticizes. After all, German composer Dieter Mack used to tell me that if I want to study gamelan, I should learn the language of its people first (and since then, I have known bits and pieces of Bahasa Indonesia already). But coming from the Philippines which, I believe, shares relations with the culture where the gamelan is situated on, I want to explore how Benedict Anderson's idea of imagined community applies even in transnational and regional contexts. And I think Filipino composer Jose Maceda was also on the same exploration as well during the 1950s onwards (even before Anderson came up with such a succinct definition of nationalism in the 80s), imagining a pan-"Asian" aesthetic (with quotes, for given my understanding, it is hard and sometimes problematic to define what Maceda's "Asia" comprise of) that can be the basis for a new modernist take on contemporary music in (Southeast?) Asia. With the rekindling of a larger new music community in Southeast Asia since the past decade, it seemed appropriate as well to imagine oneself in this strong emerging force even within a different sense of place (as where I am at this point). I am Southeast Asian, just like all Filipinos and Indonesians are. If shared ways of living or sensibilities are considered as incentives for intercultural explorations, then why can't I look at gamelan within the eyes of Indonesians without losing my sense of Filipino-ness?


And so, my desire to explore translations of musical languages comes in. Given that the gamelan served as a springboard for enabling me to create more meanings, I don't merely want to "sound gamelan-like" and therefore be accused of mindless cultural appropriation. Even Steve Reich, who sees the world with Western eyes, said that he considered copying non-Western melodies into one's work very superficial. He insisted on looking at the musical structures for the education of the Western composer, that he/she would see that the Western way of music making is only one of many others throughout the world. So in the case of the gamelan, it takes more than just knowing how the slendro or pelog tuning sounds like. One has to know how and on what systematic principles do the musical elements in the tradition operate on. And so with the two sketches I wrote, I wanted to explore how passages of time are created using different musical sensibilities that are necessarily found in gamelan performance. For the Kansas-Montréal exchange, the linearity of the balungan of Ladrang Wilujeng became the backbone of the sketch while holding individual time-space trajectories together. For the Ensemble Transmission reading, the linear deceleration found in irama transitions is the basis of making a formal structure work into moments of musical textures. These coalesced into a large ensemble work which just got premiered hours ago, with the inclusion of the colotomic structure, the vocal element, the use of different spoken languages, and the gamelan gending tradition as significant factors in creating a hyper-realistic model, a way of "looking back" (to somewhere I once belonged to), a way of looking forward (towards the future of music-making in Southeast Asia and beyond).


This is so far an unfinished endeavour, a snapshot of something that is still moving.


Update: The recordings of the Kansas performance and the Ensemble Transmission reading are already up! Check them out in my Soundcloud page here and here.

Project Bakawan Festival 2015: Listening Terminals

Posted on February 1, 2015 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)


With Dayang Yraola curating this project, the installation aims to bring performance/sound art and discourses on the environment out where no one could avoid them: at street lamp posts! Upon invitation, I composed a 2 1/2-minute acousmatic work as my contribution to the sound installation component of this project (and also as a potential platform of discourse on notions of environments and of imaginations of spaces). Being currently in Montreal, I won't be present on its launching, but exhibit is sure to run from 5 February to 1 March 2015 at the Academic Oval (in front of the UP College of Music), University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Hope you'd take interest in checking it out! [UP joggers and strollers, be warned! ;)]


See here for full details.


From the curator: "...sounds from the urban eco-system were recorded as an attempt to isolate them and direct more attention to them. The simple title Listening Terminals is as literal as it appears—listening as the act of consuming, and terminals as the medium of consumption.


"How this whole exercise is related to sustainability is not a direct statement. Rather than stating directly that: 'this is your environment and that you are responsible for it'; the project terminates the statement at 'this is your environment….' The curatorial of the Sound/Movement component of Project Bakawan is focused on providing sensorial stimuli, which has more potential for continued discussion among the interested audience (whether on the topic of urban ecology, sound art, music, dance, movement, etc), rather than a prescriptive statement. Therefore has more potential for a sustainable discourse."

Kansas City-Montreal Musical Exchange

Posted on November 10, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)


The Black House Collective (from Kansas City) and the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab will be doing a collaborative exchange program this coming April and June 2015. I am privileged to be selected as one of the composer participants from Montreal, and so I am commissioned to write a 10-minute new sextet work for this purpose.


I'll post updates regarding this project next year. For now, more information (including information on all the participants) can be found here (and I do encourage you to check it out). ;)


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