Jazz vocalist Mon David headlines OPM evening at the Ford

Prolific recording artist Mon David. Photo by Rick Gavino

Prolific recording artist Mon David. Photo by Rick Gavino

“Serenata Filipina,” an exciting blend of pop, jazz, choral and rock will stage August 17 at the historic Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.

This presentation will be Ford’s sole Filipino American event on its 2014 Summer Amphitheatre Season, featuring Original Pilipino Music (OPM) with beloved songs and original works that represent the diverse landscape of the Philippines.

A diverse cast of singers will perform pop music to rock to jazz to folk. Featured performers include award- winning jazz vocalist Mon David, the all-male ensemble Harana Men’s Chorus, pop singer Annie Nepomuceno, musical theatre artist Lara Avengoza and soprano Louise Cornillez. Emerging artists Josie Gonzalez and sax player Amin Baghallian round out the multi genre cast.

Theatre artist Lara Avengoza

Theatre artist Lara Avengoza

Patrons will be treated to songs that highlight Filipino ingenuity and fresh interpretations of popular favorites. David puts an interesting meter to the classic “Pipit” (Tagalog for songbird) and “Atin Cu Pung Singsing” (I Have A Ring) from his native province of Pampanga. A prolific recording artist, David will premiere cuts from his upcoming fourth album, performed live with a band of top Filipino session musicians.

The Harana Men’s Chorus will add an air of romance to the evening, representing the Filipino’s penchant for love songs. Along with the quintessential courtship song, “harana,” the group delves into the contemporary catalog with radio hits “Ikaw Lamang” (Only You) and the Cayabyab classic “Iniibig Kita” (I Love You). A novel medley of songs of the Apo Hiking Society is one of the most anticipated numbers by the group.

The Apo, best remembered for the witty “Pumapatak and Ulan” (Raindrops) and “Mahirap Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba,” (Hard To Love Another’s Love) is of the era when the term “OPM” was first coined in the 1970s, when Philippine songwriters moved for more exposure on the radio, which predominantly played foreign American songs. The result of the movement was a blossoming of Filipino-authored original songs.

In one segment, the show’s artists gather in a tête-à-tête onstage which will take the audience on a nostalgic journey with songs including “Mr. DJ” by Rey Valera, “Give Me A Chance” by Odette Quesada and classics such as George Canseco’s “Ngayon at Kailanman,” and “Say That You Love Me,” among others by the Philippines’ top songwriters, including Willy Cruz and Cecile Azarcon. “Serenata Filipina” highlights Mon David’s rich baritone in the legendary “Never Ever Say Goodbye.”

Today, the term “OPM” is used to refer to any Filipino penned composition, which now includes indie rock from the ‘90s, English songs from the ‘80s and jukebox “country” hits. Visayan favorite “Usahay” and the Bicolano “Sarungbanggi” deftly blend in a show which also features iconic rock tunes of The Eraserheads and novel songs with the distinctive “Manila Sound.”

This mélange of musical colors shall be complemented by the designs of Hollywood couturier Alexis Monsanto. Monsanto’s vision is enhanced with hair and makeup by Larry Hufanan of Phtyo and Lierac and Cherry Ordoñez Salon, respectively.

The singers not only collaborate musically, but also to help Filipinos who are slowly recovering from the Haiyan/Yolanda devastation. The show benefits the Scholarship Fund of the University of the Philippines Alumni of Greater Los Angeles (UPAAGLA) and aims to help displaced students from Tacloban.

“Serenata Filipina” is presented by Music Arts Events in partnership with the Philippine Patrons of the Arts USA. Tickets prices start at $37 for reserved seating. Discount tickets available for full time students with ID and children 12 and under. Purchase by August 10 and save! Tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media: 323 GO 1-FORD). To learn about discounts for groups of 8 or more, please call 323 769-2147.

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