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October 8, 2012

Philippine Madrigal Singers

Philippine Madrigal Singers

The University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers was organized in 1963 by National Artist Professor Andrea O. Veneracion. The group is composed of students, faculty and alumni from the different colleges of the University of the Philippines (UP). The choir is one of the world’s most awarded, having consistently won all the top prizes in most of the world’s prestigious  choral competitions: Arezzo and Gorizia in Italy, Marktoberdorf in Germany, Spittal in Austria, Neuchatel in Switzerland, Tours in France, Varna in Bulgaria, Debrecen in Hungary, Cantonigros, Tolosa and Torrevieja in Spain. They hold the distinction of being the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing twice (1997 and 2007). 

The ensemble performs a wide repertoire of various styles and forms: renaissance music, classical music, Filipino and international folksongs, contemporary and avant-garde music, opera and even popular music. Their specialization and focus on the madrigal idiom has inspired their unique set-up of singing while seated in a semi-circle, without a conductor.

The influence of the UP Madrigal Singers on the Philippine and Asian choral scene has also been far-reaching. Since 1963, more than 200 singers have joined the choir, many of whom are now choral and vocal pedagogues actively involved in organizing and conducting choirs. This eventually led to the organization of the Madz Et Al, a network of choirs who gather regularly for festivals and workshops. To date, the network has a membership of almost 60 choirs from all over the country. This contributes to the now very active choral life in the Philippines.

Through the direction of Mark Anthony Carpio, the corps of composers and choral arrangers of the UP Madrigal Singers continue to produce new compositions and choral settings of Philippine, Asian and international songs, thus contributing to the growth of world choral literature. 

More recently, the group was honored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Artists for Peace (July 2009) for putting their fame and influence at the service of UNESCO’s ideals and efforts to promote cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace. Similarly, the group has been honored with the Guidoneum Award (September 2010) by the Concorso Polifonico Guido d’ Arezzo Foundation “for the artistic and choral promotion activity that they carried out after they won the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing in 2007, thus are grateful for all that the Philippine Madrigal Singers have done for the choral world.” 

The UP Madrigal Singers also maintain an active outreach and concert tour schedule, performing in far-flung areas of the Philippines seldom reached by choral artists. With an average of two overseas concert tours a year, the UP Madrigal Singers is the country’s most active ambassadors of goodwill and perhaps, also one of the world’s most-traveled choirs. In August 2011, the group was one of the featured choirs in the 9th World Symposium on Choral Music held in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. They then proceeded to do several goodwill concerts in other parts of the country and also in Paraguay and Uruguay.

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