The Jose Maceda centennial celebration
By Dayang Yraola
From January 2017 to February 2018 the country celebrates the centenary of the birth of Jose Maceda, National Artist for Music. The year-long celebration, dubbed as Maceda 100, is spearheaded by the University of the Philippines Center for Ethnomusicology (UPCE) which serves as the main caretaker of the Jose Maceda Collection—an estate of audio recordings, field notes, photographs, manuscripts, scores, books and journals that once belonged to the National Artist.
Engaged in projects geared towards promoting the creative and scholarly legacies of Maceda, the UPCE celebrates the centennial with four major activities: performance, exhibit, symposium, and field school.
The centennial celebration opened with the exhibit Reading Maceda, Prelude held on January 31-February 24 at the Bulwagan ng Dangal Heritage Museum of the University of the Philippines Diliman. Featuring photos, news clippings, audio files, scores, and actual objects from the Maceda Collection, the exhibit interpreted some themes that Maceda discussed in his writings such as technology, time, space, and nature. Central to this exhibit was a music analysis, written by National Artist Ramon P. Santos, relating the themes to Maceda’s composition.
Another exhibit, Attitude of the Mind, was held on September 26-December 2 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Gallery. This exhibit retained the themes and materials used in “Prelude,” particularly the music analyses, archival photos, clippings, scores and audio files. In addition, several contemporary art practitioners contributed commissioned work. Among those invited were conceptual artist Ringo Bunoan, media artist Tad Ermitaño, and installation artist Leo Abaya who were asked to create an installation based on their encounter with Maceda’s writings.
Independent curator Ricky Francisco worked on the entrance of the gallery to introduce the life and works of Maceda. Electronic musicians Malek Lopez and Arvin Nogueras did a digital rendition of Maceda’s unpremiered work entitled “Accordion and Mandolin.” Video materials were also exhibited such as the music analysis of Prof. Chris Brown of Mills College on the works done by Lopez and Nogueras; videos of rehearsals and performances of Maceda that came from the collections of Egay Navarro, Rica Concepcion and Howie Severino.
Both exhibits were curated by Dayang Yraola.
For the celebration, six of Maceda’s compositions were performed: “Cassettes 100,” “Pagsamba,” “Two Pianos and Four Percussions,” “Exchanges,” “Siasid,” and “Sujeichon.”
“Cassettes 100” was composed in 1971 and premiered the same year at the CCP Main Theater Lobby. This work contains pre-recorded music of indigenous instruments. This is played back during performance, with performers moving around while waving the cassette players. In its restaging on February 2 at the UP Jorge Vargas Museum and on September 26 at the CCP, the performers were given the digitized version of the recorded music, replayed on MP3 players instead of cassettes. The performance was directed by Jonas Baes who collaborated with the UP Dance Company, conceptual artist Lani Maestro and installation artist Junyee, with 100 volunteers performing during each of the performance dates.
Another renowned Maceda work, “Pagsamba,” was performed on January 31. Composed in 1968 for the Church of the Holy Sacrifice at UP Diliman, the piece set the Tagalog text of the Mass in a ritualistic atmosphere. The performance involved 200 singers and instrumentalists who used bamboo instruments, gongs, and voice.
Three other Maceda compositions were performed on September 25 as part of the evening activity of the international symposium held at Abelardo Hall, UP College of Music. The concert was entitled “Exchanges.” The works performed were “Two Pianos and Four Percussion,” composed in 2000, “Exchanges” (1997), and “Siasid” (1983).
The performance of “Pagsamba” and the “Exchanges” concert were under the direction and baton of Chino Toledo.
The closing event of Maceda 100 will be a performance of “Sujeichon” in January 2018. Completed by Maceda in 2002, it is a composition for four pianos inspired by Korean court music.
The symposium was held on September 25 at the UP Abelardo Hall and on September 26 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. The symposium sought to initiate insightful discussions on music theory and research and their modern-day applications; to provide participants a venue for learning and/or sharing working knowledge of contemporary music in the Philippines and Southeast Asia; and to encourage exchange and linkages between educational and artistic institutions.
There were six round-table sessions with 21 speakers from different countries and universities. The themes covered were Traditional Music and Modern Composition; Traditional Culture in Public Sphere; Ethnomusicology in the Classroom; Alternative Voices, Alternative Theories; and Remembering Jose.
The symposium was highlighted by three keynote speeches given by Dr. Ramon P. Santos (“Time, Space and Community”), Ricardo Trimillios (“Asian Music, the Asian Scholar and Modern Asia”), and Nicole Revel (“Ethnomusicology in the Digital Age”).
An adjunct activity called the Field School was also held April 26-30 as an extension of the UPCE’s regular program. This field research intended to update the materials in the UPCE collections and to repatriate audio recordings to communities where Maceda and his researchers conducted their research from the 70s to the 90s. The school was held in Kabayan, Benguet with participating students from the UP College of Music Departments of Music Education and Musicology.
Publication of a manual for digital and digitized archives will be an offshoot of the Digitization Program of the UPCE Collection conducted in 2007-2015. This is a compilation of Maceda’s writings, to be called Maceda Reader. The reader and the catalogue for the exhibit Attitude of the Mind are scheduled to be released before the end of the centennial celebration.
By making available his compositions, research materials, and writings through the activities of Maceda 100, UPCE hopes to ensure that “Maceda knowledge” is promoted and continues to be relevant to younger generations of artists, scientists and scholars. More than the festivities and the spectacle carried by Maceda’s monumental compositions, it is the celebration of his vast influence in his multi-faceted role as artist, teacher, and philosopher that matters. This is what the UPCE is ultimately paying homage to—a legacy beyond borders and generations.
Dayang Yraola is the former archivist and collections manager of the UP Center for Ethnomusicology. She is currently an assistant professor at the College of Fine Arts Theory Department and at the College of Music Department of Musicology in UP Diliman. She also has an independent curatorial practice focusing on process-based art projects. (firstname.lastname@example.org)