Encounter with the Maestro
BY FRANCIS RYAN PABIANIA
About a hundred vocal singing enthusiasts – who will always “believe in the magic of harmony”, gathered for the 2019 Regional Akapela Open held at Silliman University July 31-Aug. 3.
The gathering of music lovers was graced by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and Acapellago, a multi-titled group based in Bulacan.
The event came shortly after the announcement that the Maestro has been chosen as one of the five Ramon Magsaysay Awardees this year. His presence provided an opportunity for music local and regional music lovers to personally extend their congratulations to Cayabyab.
Acapellago was then preparing to represent the country in Japan, where it was presented the Voice Jam Award in the Vocal Asia Festival held in Kagawa, Japan on Aug. 9.
The Acapellago singers include Michelle Pascual, Almond Bolante, Joshua Cadeliña, Ronnel Allen Laderas and Ricky Gavin Laderas.
The Bulacan-based Acapellago, considered one of the most influential pop acapella groups in the country, pioneered the regional workshops.
Workshop activities included topics on introduction to contemporary acapella, folk song arrangement, vocal arrangement, reading of vocal scores, ensemble singing, open mic and jam.
Participant Enzo Miguel Pastrano said that “the workshop created a space for us to meet different people and hear the difference between the usual chorale and contemporary style, adding, we were divided into groups with each group performing a Filipino folk song based on original arrangement on the final night which made it a great experience – with Mister C demonstrating his anticipation of the spectacle of harmony.”
Acapellago was declared the Asian Cup A Capella champion with Cayabyab, its member facilitate the training at Silliman. It also won in previous competitions in, among others, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Austria, and Russia.
Acapellago is a two-time Awit Awards winner for its original songs “Stars Are Aligned” and “Peroplano” and ANI ng Dangal recipients for three consecutive years since 2016.
It is the only Philippine pop acapella group to interpret at the Philippine Popular Music Festival.
It has remained as ambassadors of contemporary pop acapella music, spreading the genre in the country all over the world.
At Silliman, it performed at Luce Auditorium as part of the cultural season opening in the university.
Acapellago’s performance was also widely-applauded during the culminating night program held at the residence of Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Remollo.
The following interview with the Maestro was conducted by the writer and fellow Sillimanian Deogracia William Bemida.
How many times have you been in Dumaguete? What keeps you coming back to the city?
I cannot count it anymore. Maybe 20 times? Silliman invited me several times in the past years to give lectures on music theories and music compositions. You always say that Dumaguete is a second home, a place for retirement and a place where you like to return to. Busy, yet maintaining the provincial field, Dumaguete is not so modern city type. Yun ang magandang appeal ng Dumaguete.
Please tell us of your journey in the industry.
In the industry, I will be turning 50 years next year. I started as a pianist of a choral group and into a different job and then I taught in the UP college schools for how many years. So it’s almost 50 years… I took up Accounting at the University of the Philippines – College of Business Administration (1970-1973), eventually I ended up with music. I really think because this is my destiny I really end up with this. So that my dad would not be angry. I shifted to music (1972-1983), 10 years because I was working…I travel a lot and I took a lot of jobs, so it took me a long time to finish.
What is your favorite musical genre that helped you grow as an artist? Why?
I started with serious music, meaning classical music. It is a discipline and something that is deeply engraved. But definitely, because I’m in a pop music field, I also spend a lot of my time training creative and songwriters. I apply the training of classical music into popular music.
What song composition would you relate to Silliman University?
There is nothing I could relate to Silliman University. While I was here doing or sharing my work, I didn’t do any update. Yung relationship was, I think Silliman might have a relationship with me because other choirs here would sing my songs. As a matter of fact, on foundation day, they are singing two of my songs which is Nais Ko and Paraiso.
Do you have a theme song on your life? What is it?
No theme song, but maybe a significant song that has almost been adapted by the industry in a way of telling everybody how beautiful our music is. Parang it’s a ‘rara’ telling everybody that eto na ang music natin, let’s give it a chance, let’s promote, love, and spread.
What is the most difficult situation you have encountered in your musical career?
Actually, none. You study, you do what you think is best, you create. But I’m lucky because things appear into my lap. I had my own television show, did I aspire for it? No, I have not. Music foundation, did I aspire from it? No, it just came. Then the challenge was to run and create more music. I think I am very lucky because there are so many things that have struck into my lap that I did not expect.
What are your favorite compositions?
(He does not have favorites) I have landmark compositions: “Kay Ganda” because when I wrote it, that has been one of our first pop songs and it won. “Kailan“, I didn’t think that it’s going to be a very popular song. And “Coconut Nut“, it is the only song that is known outside of the country, there are so many versions.
Aside from music, what are your hobbies?
Before, I liked drawing, painting –visual arts, and that’s something I’d like to spend more time. I did watercolor usually portraits and then now I doodle a lot and I just use ballpoint pen and ink…a lot of doodles, doodling, especially when we’re judging.
Do you have a favorite instrument?
I play the piano, there are no other instruments I’d like to play. Because I could play the piano, I could branch out in writing and creating ideas even orchestrating and arranging for choirs. Because of the piano, I was able to understand that music theory much better.
How did you feel when you were part of a specific scholastic study?
It was one of our 10 lady boarders taking up music education. She used me as a subject. I found it – not a thesis, but it was a study in human behavior and she used me as a subject matter. In her findings, she said that I had the makings of “an excellent decisions” at 3 years old. It was evident that as a 3-year old, I had a talent in music.
Is there any distinguished personality or celebrity you want to perform with in your concerts?
Actually, I performed with most of the big names in the industry. I always like performing with Basil Valdez, because he sings many of my songs and also Celeste Legaspi because most of her songs are repertoire, most of which I arranged .
What was your mother’s line that left a mark in your life?
My mother died when I was 6 years old, so there are no lessons from her directly except that I defied the wishes of my mother that none of us should take a career in music. Because she was a musician and she knew how difficult it was to live the life of a musician. So she told our dad before she died, “please do not allow any of the children to take up music.*
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