Monday, November 22, 2021

The Journey

by Regin Reyno
I first heard of a Robert Delgado choral arrangement when I was in high school at Northeast Luzon Academy (NELA), way back in 1997. My high school choir, Vessels, led by Trufimo Caplis sang Lead Me, Lord by Arnel de Pano

Then, when I was in college at Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP), my choir then, Regent Square Chorale (RSC) led by Nimrod Salazar, had so many Robert Delgado musical scores. Songs such as May Ibong kakanta Kanta, Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas, Sa'yo Lamang, Sana'y Maulit Muli, The Prayer, Lead Me, Lord, You Are the Love of My Life, Bituing Walang Ningning, and of course, the classic, Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, to name a few. I often see the name 'Robert Delgado' on our musical scores.
Regent Square Chorale 2000
I remember, our conductor, sir Nimrod Salazar, looked up to Robert Delgado. I remember him saying, "Maganda 'tong pyesa na 'to. Iba ang calibre nito kasi Delgado 'to."
San Beda College Chorale
2002 Choir Olympics (World Choir Games) Gold Medalist
Busan, South Korea

Then, I came across one of his books (choral arrangements), through one of my buddies, Jed Acosta, who was a member of Celestial Echoes (CE), led by Warlito S. Yalung. It also came with a CD of the The Voice of Manila (VOM), his (Robert Delgado) choir then. That's when I knew that Robert Delgado is not only an arranger/composer, but a choral conductor, as well.
We were so amazed by the sound of the choir (VOM). We often listened to it. In it were the songs that were in the book. Songs such as, Sa'yo Lamang, You, Paghahandog ng Sarili, etc.
In AUP, his choral arrangement of Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi was being sung by almost all the active choirs during that time. The AUP Ambassadors (Amba) led by Ramon Lijauco Jr, Celestial Echoes, and Regent Square Chorale.
In 2004, I heard a recording of San Beda College Chorale (SBCC), stored in the computer of my friend, Edson Wahiman. I think it was Bhim Clyde Bacud who put all the choral songs in that computer. Or maybe his sister, Lovely Wahiman. I don't know. But I remember the sound of the San Beda College Chorale. I was really surprised that an all-male choir can sound that good. Beautiful sound! At first, I thought it was a mixed choir; the songs were Les Chant des Oiseaux, Wohl Auf ihr Gäste Gut, Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin, I Will Be Here, etc. That's when I first heard of the San Beda College Chorale.
Through Friendster, I found out that their choirmaster is Robert Delgado. I was surprised because I thought he was still leading the Voice of Manila. And then, through some of the music majors at AUP, I even heard that he also led the Philippine Women's University Chorale (PWU Chorale) to choral competitions and tours here and abroad.
I always dreamed of concert touring with a choir; going to different countries, doing what I love-choral singing-and at the same time experiencing other countries.
So, when I saw a post on Friendster while surfing the internet, that the San Beda College Chorale is looking for a bass singer to be part of their 2005 European Tour, I took my chances and went to San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila to audition. I was living in AUP during that time, in Silang, Cavite.
That was the start of my choral journey with sir Robert Delgado. I was able to experience a great choral conductor, arranger, composer. It's unbelievable that the name that I just often see on musical scores before, is now actually my conductor.
San Beda College Chorale 2005
Cultural Center of the Philippines

Every rehearsal is amazing. There's always a 'wow moment'. From his ability to hear every note, his sensitivity to chords, his heart and passion in choral interpretations, his knowledge in vocal pedagogy, to arranging songs on the spot, it was a great privilege to be under a musical genius. Being a member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, he was trained under the tutelage of Prof. Andrea Veneracion (OA). A lot of his choral techniques were taken from ma'am OA, his choirmaster and voice teacher-and of course his formal education at Philippine Women's University and University of the Philippines-College of Music.

Madz '89
Neuchatel, Switzerland

In 2005 and 2006, we embarked on a European, Taiwan, and US tour, doing goodwill concerts and joining international choral festivals. That was my first time to travel abroad. Everything was borne by the choir through sir Robert Delgado's efforts. We didn't spend a single cent. It was one of my best travel experiences, and had lots of realizations. It was life-changing. That was the start of my passion for international travel.
Helsingborg, Sweden
Then, when, I joined another choir at Mountain View College (MVC)-a beautiful college in Mindanao-in 2006, the Advent Philomels (AP), led by Bart Poce Brondo, the choral works of sir Robert Delgado were, again, present in our repertoire (St. Francis, Lead Me, Lord, Bituin, Eres Tu, etc.). That's when I realized the extent of his work, and really felt blessed and fortunate to be able to experience his tutelage.
This song, Julie Gold's The Journey, was chosen by sir Robert. It's a representation of his choral journey. Because of him, many of us, his choir members were really blessed; blessed to be able to experience a real-life musical genius, famous arranger/composer, an award-winning choral conductor, and had opportunities of travel, tours, choral competitions, and access and influence to the Philippine choral scene.

Philippine Male Singers 2007
Busan, South Korea

And through his compositions and arrangements, he, sure, had an impact to the local and international chorale scene, maybe even touched your heart, as well. Maraming salamat po, sir Robert Delgado.
Rome, Italy

P.S. This song is also special for me and Bhim Bacud, because this is one of our songs in our children's choir before, The Little Best of Friends, led by Jemimah Macanim at Cagayan Valley Sanitarium and Hospital.
The Little Best of Friends
circa 1995
Isabela, Philippines

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