Arts & Leisure

Concert for a cause

Posted on January 28, 2014

CONSIDERED as one of the principal songs in the musical Les Misérables, "Do You Hear The People Sing?" is a stirring anthem created by musical partner composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and librettist Alain Boublil. "Do You Hear The People Sing?" is also the title of the symphonic concert featuring a collection of the duo’s best collaborations.

The concert, which is the only one of its kind sanctioned and created by Messrs. Schönberg and Boublil themselves, has played to enormous acclaim in major venues throughout the US; and its Asia-Pacific tour recently ended in China with sold-out audiences.

This week, local theater fans are in for a treat as Messrs. Schönberg and Boublil have agreed to bring the concert to Manila for the first time -- and for a good cause.

Do You Hear the People Sing? will play for two nights -- Jan. 29 and 30, Wednesday and Thursday -- at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

The concert will be staged for the benefit of the survivors of typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which struck the central Philippines on Nov. 8.

"Filipinos coming to see the show can expect some of the most amazing music ever written for musical theater performed by people who know what they’re doing," Tony-award-winning Filipina performer Lea Salonga -- who will be performing in the concert -- said in a statement.

"We have this 80-strong choir and people can look forward to a really wonderful night of amazing music while helping a lot of the typhoon victims," she added.

Ms. Salonga worked with Messrs. Schönberg and Boublil in the musical Miss Saigon where she played the lead role in the musical’s original production at the Theater Royal, Drury Lane in London in 1989.

Ms. Salonga will be joined in the concert by Australian theater star David Harris (Miss Saigon, Wicked, Legally Blonde) and Marie Zamora (Barnum, Kiss Me Kate), the acclaimed French soprano who was the original Cosette in the Paris production of Les Misérables.

A number of Filipino soloists will also be performing including Rachelle-Ann Go, Jon Joven, Carla Guevara Laforteza, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Jed Madela, Cocoy Laurel, Michael Williams, and Leo Tavarro Valdez.

Asked what she was looking forward to in the upcoming Manila performances, Ms. Salonga replied: "Seeing my friends with me on-stage and doing the music that we all know like the back of our hands because this is music that we have all performed a lot before.

"As for the victims of typhoon Yolanda, I want them to know that help is always going to be on the way. Coming from those people providing help, we have not forgotten you. For as long as it’s needed, people will be sending help."

Accompanied by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga (who also serves as the musical director/conductor of the Asia Pacific tour of Do You Hear The People Sing?), these star performers will be joined by an 80-member adult choir consisting of members from the Ateneo Chamber Singers, Mass Appeal, Aleron and former members of the San Miguel Master Chorale. Twenty children from the International School Manila Middle School Honor Choir will also perform. The choirmaster for this event is Jonathon Velasco.

Ms. Salonga said all the performers agreed to appear in the concert for free.

As part of the fundraising effort, there will be an online auction so people outside the Philippines can support this worthy endeavor. The lots range from exclusive manuscripts and memorabilia signed by Messrs. Boublil, Schönberg and Theatrical Producer Cameron Mackintosh; five-star experiences around the world including watching the 25th Anniversary of Miss Saigon in London on May, and Les Misérables in Melbourne in July; concerts and exclusive meet-and-greets with artists including Russell Watson and cellists Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber; tickets to the Napa Valley Festival del Sole and the San Diego premiere of Star Trek: Film with Orchestra, among others.

The funds raised from the two-night concert and the auction will go towards building 200 homes in areas ravaged by Yolanda through Habitat for Humanity Philippines.

For more information on concert tickets, bidding in the auction, or donating to the Habitat for Humanity, Philippines Yolanda Project, visit: Concert tickets cost P25,000; P15,000; P9,200; P6,700; and P4,200 through TicketWorld at 891-9999 or Resorts World Manila Box Office at 908-8000 local 7700. -- Jeffrey O. Valisno