That voice--pure, mystical, hypnotic. Quite possibly the sound you'd hear on the Morning of Creation. Grace Nono's voice stays with you long after you're out of the performance hall, reawakening in you a connection to both the earthy and the divine.
Watched her just this afternoon in an intimate concert of ethnic chants, prayers, lamentations and rejoicing, and she was brilliant. Hair-raisingly so.
You'd think a show built around ancient incantations would be boring; this one--with authentic sounds Ms. Nono painstakingly learned from the T'boli, Kalinga, Maranao, Ibanag and Manobo tribes, plus a Batangueno devotional and a Visayan song of encouragement--shimmered, conjured up vistas, rocked the heavens, caressed the heart. (Bob Aves did the majestic musical arrangements.)
Dear God, make Ms. Nono a National Artist someday. But in the meantime, get more people to watch her repeat show (moved from the PETA Theater to Sinag Arts Studio in Mandaluyong) on June 2, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The concert, "Tinig: Sacred Chants and Intimations," also serves as the culminating showcase of the lights design and sound design workshops conducted by the technical theater pillars behind Sinag Arts, premiere lighting designer Shoko Matsumoto (a Japanese woman with not a drop of Filipino blood who has opted to stay in the country to work with Filipino artists--kudos to her) and sound designer Jethro Joaquin.
Ms. Nono's voice and art are more than music to the ears. They are a balm to the spirit, and a link to a proud yet fragile heritage that has so much to teach us, and is ours to lose only to our eternal regret.
Sinag Arts Studio is at 664 San Ignacio St., Barangay Plainview, Mandaluyong City. For tickets, call 5313491, fax 5319524, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sinag-arts.com
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