Oct 252013

The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra with Robert Shroder, musical director and conductor. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Benny Uy

LOS ANGELES–Top Filipino-American choirs will perform together for the first time, and with the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), the only Filipino symphony orchestra outside the Philippines, in “Handog ng FASO sa Pasko,” a Christmas benefit concert and festival, on Saturday, December 7, at the White Memorial Church, 1720 Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles.

In a history-making concert presented by ABS-CBS Foundation International and FASO, distinguished Filipino-American choirs, including Bridges, Harana Men’s Chorus, Philippine Chamber Singers-Los Angeles, University of the Philippines (UP) Concert Chorus Alumni of Los Angeles, University of Santo Tomas (UST) Singers Alumni and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (IHMC) Children’s Choir, will render traditional English and Filipino Christmas music.

The repertoire includes “Simbang Gabi” and Handel’s “Messiah,” with the orchestra to be conducted by Robert Shroder, FASO’s musical director and conductor.

Special celebrity guests will join the show that promises a special, memorable evening that will evoke the joyful ways the Christmas season is celebrated in the Philippines. These talents include Joey Albert, Louise Marie Cornillez, Gelo Francisco, Sal Malaki and Wendy Mazon (FASO’s principal clarinetist).

“We are all very excited to offer ‘Handog ng FASO sa Pasko’ again this year,” said Shroder, who is one of the founders of FASO. “We would like to bring to our community the spirit of Philippine Christmas celebration we miss from back home, and hopefully introduce the younger generation to the beauty of our Filipino tradition and culture through music. Festivities will start at 5:00 p.m. out in the courtyard with traditional Filipino Christmas delicacies, games and songs. Please bring your entire family, most especially the children.”

Shroder added, “FASO is a nonprofit public benefit organization in the process of obtaining its IRC 501(c)(3) exemption. With the help of its dynamic board of directors, we are strategically positioned to bring more performances to the community, work closely with our benefactors to achieve our artistic, educational as well as charitable goals and mission.

“We strive to bring meaningful music programs to the community and continue to develop the youth music learning program. With the joint efforts of our dedicated and hardworking board of directors and talented up-and-coming musicians, I am positive that FASO will bring a lot more to the community in the near future. Mabuhay!”

The festivities before the concert, which include a display of Christmas lanterns or parol, the brightly colored popular symbol of the Filipino Christmas tradition, and booths and stalls, start at 5 p.m. The concert starts at 7 p.m.

Jo Ann Kyle, ABS-CBN Foundation International managing director, said, “I am truly excited about this partnership because it is through the different Fil-Am organizations that ABS-CBN Foundation International is able to reach out to the community and achieve our mission. It is in solidarity with the community that gives us strength and inspiration in what we do which ultimately will benefit our people and our country.” Proceeds will benefit ABS-CBN Foundation International and FASO Foundation.

Arlene Ferrolino, FASO board president, said, “It is truly an honor to be a part of history as the first president of the FASO board. From here, the view is amazingly full of promise, endless opportunities and of more exciting things to come. Indeed, it is a privilege to serve with such a fine and capable board of directors, each one an expert in his or her field.”

Ferrolino added, “Together, we can nurture FASO to be the best it can be, a worthy representation of our rich cultural roots and an excellent musical organization of which we can all be proud. As we step forward as a team, let us go boldly as a strong musical force, courageously as we herald our unique musical heritage and willingly as we follow the leadership of the brave founders of FASO. Here’s to the wonderful musical journey that lies ahead of us!”

Louie Ramos, FASO board vice president, explained what is in store for the audience: “We are very thrilled to present this event because our kababayan will be able to relive and enjoy Christmas back home not only through the traditional Christmas music but also through our other traditions such as puto bumbong (cylindrical rice cake) and parol decorations. It is also the first time that distinguished Filipino-American choirs in the community will be performing together. That, in itself, will be history in the making.”

Tickets, priced at $100, $60, $50, $45, $40 and $25, are available through (323) 467-5096 and 1-800-527-2820. More details are available at www.abscbnfoundation.org or www.fasofoundation.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available through (650) 508-6117 or via email at foundation@abs-cbni.com.

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