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Philippine String Ensemble Honors Late Local Soprano at 20th Anniversary Concert on Nov 17 at Drew University Concert Hall

The late soprano Amor Ilao-McGuinness from Boonton, whose credits include performances at NJPAC, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall
UPAFR Members (Left to right): 1st row - Diane Valencia (President), Lena Gonzalez, Teya David 2nd row - Jose Rojas, Ameurfina Nazario, Faith Buenaventura, Mirinisa Myers, Lito David 3rd row - Rudy Reyes, Cesar Valencia, Leon de Lara, Stewart Myers, Lee Clemente
One of the 40 children's rondallas established in the Philippines through the rondalla instruments lending program, beneficiary of the UPAFR's anniversary concert on Nov. 17  4pm at Drew University Concert Hall

The University of the Philippines Alumni & Friends Rondalla (UPAFR) is celebrating its 20thyear with a concert at the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison, NJ on November 17,2012 at 4:00 pm.  Proceeds are earmarked for purchase of musical instruments to benefit the Pagyamanin Likas Musika (Enriching Native Music) rondalla instrument lending program for children in the Philippines.

The concert will honor the late soprano Amor Ilao-McGuinness of Boonton Twp., NJ, who in 1992 founded the non-profit organization, which seeks to promote and preserve Philippine cultural heritage and native music while propagating the Filipino rondalla tradition. In addition to the many beloved Philippine folk tunes, dances, and perennial audience favorites, the program will also debut Hinagpis ng mga Sakada (Lament of the Sakadas) with lyrics by Amor Ilao-McGuinness. The song tells of the struggles of the sakadas, Filipinos brought to Hawaii between 1906 and 1946 as cheap labor on pineapple and sugar plantations. Some of the favorites included will be Besa Me Mucho, Come Back to Sorrento, La Vie En Rose, and the theme to the Phantom of the Opera.

The Philippine rondalla is a string orchestra consisting of a number of various shaped 14-stringed plectrum instruments, namely the bandurria, laud, and octavina providing the melody and countermelody,with the guitars and double basses providing the rhythm.   Arrangements for all musical selections including the newly written Hinagpis ng mga Sakada are by well-known composer and Pamana ng Pilipino (Philippine Heritage) Presidential Awardee Bayani Mendoza de Leon.  Concert conductor is Maria Leonor Llorin Paliguin, a violinist and Philippine bandurria champion in the prestigious National Competition for Young Artists in the Solo Instrument Category.

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The UPAFR has performed in countless venues in the United States, most notably at the United Nations, the Lincoln Center, Smithsonian Institute, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It has made its mark as well in Canada, Egypt, Jordan, Portugal, and Cuba.  The organization welcomes people of all ages and musical abilities to join them in their free rondalla lessons in Linden, New Jersey on Sunday afternoons. The current membership boasts of a 15-year-old honors student, who started playing with the group when she was six, and a number of husband and wife teams.  If interested, please call 732-317-3364.

A New Jersey State Council on the Arts grant recipient for its invaluable contributions to the enrichment of the State's cultural environment, the UPAFR has also been honored by the Knights of Rizal and by Friends, Indeed USA for exemplary service to the Filipino-American community.

Concert tickets are $15 prepaid or $20 at the door.  The group’s latest CD, priced at $15, will be on sale at the concert hall lobby after the performance.  For more information, please contact Diane Valencia, UPAFR President, at, or visit http//


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