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Filipino youth ensemble gets standing ovation in Madrid

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A Zambales-based youth orchestra received a standing ovation at the the historic Ateneo de Madrid when it performed there last June 21.

The Philippine embassy in Madrid said the 28-member Pundaquit Virtuosi String Ensemble was also greeted with “Bravo!” during its concert.

“Having this performance here is especially meaningful for us as Filipinos, since our national hero Jose Rizal himself was a member of this institution. I can only imagine his great pride had he known that over a century later, a Filipino ensemble from Zambales would be performing here at the Ateneo de Madrid,” said Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier.

Before an audience of around 200 Spaniards and Filipinos, the orchestra – composed of 28 young Filipinos, mostly in their teens, and founder and artistic director Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata – performed classics and Filipino pieces, including “Bahay Kubo,” and “Buwan.”

The Pundaquit Virtuosi String Ensemble was developed by the Casa San Miguel Foundation, based in San Antonio, Zambales.

It is part of a community-based arts program that seeks to create opportunities for children from humble backgrounds through music and the arts.

Ateneo de Madrid, established in 1820, served as a forum for liberal ideas of the 19th century, and where Jose Rizal would watch theater and musical performances, poetry recitals and book launchings. It was also where he learned English.

It was part of the Spanish leg of the ensemble’s European tour.

The Pundaquit Virtuosi String Ensemble also performed at the Palacio de la Capitanía General in Barcelona last June 20 to a crowd of around 150 military personnel and Consular Corps for the joint celebration of the 121st Philippine Independence Day and the 17th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.

Last June 22, the ensemble visited the public school IES Jaime Veira in Madrid to hold a workshop with young music students currently being trained by the non-profit Accion Social por la Música.

The Pundaquit Virtuosi String Ensemble’s European Tour is organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with Philippine Embassies, as part of its Cultural Diplomacy efforts.

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