Classical singers on the spot

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    (above) Angeli Benipayo and Charina Balmores; (below) Fides-Cuyugan-Asensio and Cloi Sugano
    (Above) Angeli Benipayo and Charina Balmores; (Below) Fides-Cuyugan-Asensio and Cloi Sugano

    Fides Cuyugan Asencio, a name so popular and familiar to many Filipinos in the 60s and the 70s, organized the Fides Cuyugan Asencio Vocal Competition (FCAVC). Now on its second year, the FCAVC is which was founded by Raymond Roldan and American tenor Samuel Savage to promote classical vocal repertoire and to jump start careers of aspiring classical singers in the country.

    This year, several competitions were held in the different parts of the country, with the final round happening last week at the Erehwon Center for the Arts.

    This was a culmination of a month-long search for the year’s best classical singers in the country.

    The competition was so timely as it coincided with the 90th birthday of our opera luminary, Fides.

    Out of 26 contestants, ten finalists were chosen for the final round. Top contenders were: Angeli Benipayo; Cloi Sugano; Charina Balmores; Cez Carino;  Cymbelene Gatdula;  Katrine Sunga;  Malvin Macasaet;  Kevin Guiman;  Greg Rebadeo;  and Ruzzel Clemeno. These ladies and gentlemen were fabulous in their rendition of an aria which they chose to sing….followed by a classical song assigned to them to sing on the spot.

    Before the results of the completion were announced, the opera diva Fides Cuyugan Asensio delivered her appreciation speech, reiterating her sixty-year advocacy for classical singing in the country. She further mentioned that she hoped that her advocacy will “be continued through the next generation”. She was also grateful to all those who helped in putting this event together.

    The adjudicators of the final round competition were: voice professors Janet Sabas- Aracama; baritone Marvin Gayramon; and internationally renown artist,Cipriano de Guzman.

    While waiting for the jurors’s decision, the powerful voice of tenor Raymond Roldan was heard.  This was followed by songs rendered by the choral group “Ganap” led by conductor Agoy Patacsil . Erehwon Executive Director Greg Abelardo de Leon was the master of ceremonies.

    Angeli Benipayo; Cloi Sugano; Charina Balmores were proclaimed as the victors of the classical singing competition.

    Fr. Rony Alkonga handed the Dennis Asensio Prize to third place winner –  Charina Balmores;  Erehwon Foundation Chaiman, Boysie Villavicencio awarded the  Samuel Savage Prize to Second Prize winner – Cloi Sugano; and finally, Atty. Tony Pastor handed the  first prize medal to Angeli Benipayo.

    It was a beautiful early evening filled with songs for the heart and the soul. Every performer / contestant were more than excellent…..but like all competitions, winners were proclaimed although to all those who were present there that night, they agreed that all ten who rendered their songs were considered to be W-I-N-N-E-R-S  too !