FILIPINO QUINTET QUALIFIES TO COMPETE IN MACAU JAZZ AND BLUES FEST!
The CompanY, a quintet composed of Sweet Plantado (soprano), Annie Quintos (soprano/alto), Cecile Bautista (alto), Jay Marquez (tenor) and Moy Ortiz (tenor2/bass) is all set to compete at the Venetian Macao’s International Jazz and Blues Fest Battle of the Bands this weekend!
I caught the band unwinding after a gig at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel a week ago and had a nice long chat with them. I was curious to know how a group prepares for such a big competition. Jay Marquez said that he caught wind of the Battle of the Bands from a Facebook ad. He emailed everyone that night asking if they were interested. My understanding is, The CompanY wasn’t a big fan of ‘joining musical contests’ because according to Moy Ortiz, “it’s really worse than apples and oranges - I cannot imagine how judges can judge when styles and performers and performances are so different.” For some reason, this Venetian Macao Carnival caught their fancy and interestingly so!
First, I found out that prior to this competition even surfacing, the band was saving up and planning to take a vacation to see Macau! They were setting aside possible resources they needed for them to see and visit, especially since they’ve been wanting to see that water-acrobatic show (goodness, I forgot the title) for quite some time now. Second reason - they realize this is a good venue to showcase their indescribable vocal talents on an international stage. (‘indescribable is my adjective, not theirs by the way) Everyone — Moy, Jay, Annie, Cecile, and Sweet - agreed that it would be their honor to represent the Philippines in the arena of jazz vocals. Filipinos, without a doubt, are highly musical. Perhaps it comes with the islands, perhaps it comes with the mixed race, anthropologists have their own theories on this but even the casual observer will note this truth. What with every corner having a karaoke place, and a great majority of homes have those singing mics installed by their TVs.
When I asked The CompanY how they were preparing for this coming weekend, I got a bevy of responses - mostly that they have very little time to rehearse. Most of them are teachers in a music and theatre school and the summer is ending, they said they applied for the contest w/o really considering that they’d make it to the short list! Imagine, they had gigs scheduled on the weekend of the carnival, they had summer-end recitals for their students, technical rehearsals for their classes, around the same time. But they claim things just fell into place. Moy recounted his happy shock when he got the phone call from the festival coordinator that they were short listed to compete! Sweet, says she believes this endeavor is ‘annointed’ (her term) — she says she believes that with all the odds stacked against it - it’s amazing how they are really on their way to Macau this weekend. ”You won’t believe how many elements had to click into place just for us to make it.”
I asked if they were worried that they had little time to rehearse, they expressed a little bravado by saying with whatever little rehearsal time they’ll set aside, they will surely optimize it. The CompanY has been in existence since 1985. There have been changes and re-arrangements, naturally, but the spark and focus on improving vocal arrangements, harmony, and styles remained steady.
I have a feeling rehearsals for this weekend’s Venetian Macao Carnival’s Battle of the Bands began WAY BEFORE they joined the competition. I’m so excited to watch them perform, I must admit I am also excited to watch the other finalists from all over the world perform. I am certain all the other finalists have their own stories to tell about how they got to Macau that weekend. I heard that there are finalists from Brazil, China, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Macao, and the U.S. All about to give their all, all focused on representing their countries in a common language — MUSIC! (Jazz and Blues, no less.)
If you’ve been wanting to experience the New Orleans spirit but haven’t had the chance yet - perhaps you should check out Macau this weekend. And cheer on your music ambassador while you’re there. I know I will.