Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00 11/15/2010
The CD features the titular organist of the Las Piñas organ, Armando Salarza
THE LAS PIÑAS Bamboo Organ is a national treasure that is recognized internationally. But there’s a dearth of organists who could possibly take over from organist Armando Salarza.
The bamboo organ, the only pipe organ in the world that is made up mostly of bamboo pipes, gets funding for its preservation through Bamboo Organ Foundation Inc. and the local government of Las Piñas. But it also must provide funding for the organist who will play it.
“Restoration is only 50 percent,” Msgr. Albert Venus, president of Bofi, said. “The other 50 goes into training the organist.”
Mozart hailed the organ as the “king” of musical instruments, and long before his teenage years, he had been playing its pedals and sounds.
The same can be said of Salarza, who at age seven started piano lessons under Donna Ofrasio. Two years later, he learned the organ from Wolfgang Ochms and professor Amador Hernandez.
Salarza gave his first public performance at age 11 and became the youngest finalist in the National Music Competition for Young Artists (Namcya). He then took further lessons in piano under Fr. Manuel Maramba, OSB, and, at age 14, became the official accompanist of Las Piñas Boys Choir.
After high school, he was sent to Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst (University for Music and the Performing Arts) in Graz, Austria, as the first scholar of the Bamboo Organ Foundation. While still a student, he was specially selected by the Institute for Church Music to be an organ instructor for the Diocese of Graz and other parishes in Kärnten as part of the institute’s outreach program.
Salarza continued to add to his resumé, with performances in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Finland and the US.
In 1992, he returned to the Philippines and was bestowed the honor of Organiste Titulaire of the Bamboo Organ.
Already the titular organist, Salarza became the official conductor and trainer of Las Piñas Boys Choir in 2003. Under his guidance, Las Piñas Boys Choir bested 54 other groups worldwide to become 2008 World Champion in the Children’s Choir Category of the 5th World Choir Games in Graz, Austria.
Such are the accomplishments of Salarza and his dedication and love for music paved the way for him. The challenge now falls upon the youngsters being trained by Bofi.
But Monsignor Venus and Salarza are quick to add that anybody who wishes to play the organ and perhaps undergo formal training is welcome.
The call certainly would not fall on deaf ears as Bofi and its sustaining members continue to make sure that the majestic sounds of the bamboo organ are continuously heard and kept current through the International Bamboo Organ Festival.
The bamboo organ, which was built between 1816 and 1824 for the chapel of Las Piñas through the efforts of Augustinian Recollect Fr. Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen, draws visitors from different parts of the world every February.
And now, lovers of organ music—and Church music as well—can enjoy listening to it any time with the release of “An Evening with His Majesty,” a CD compilation of the music played during the International Bamboo Organ Festival.
During the launching of the CD, Salarza gave a taste of what can be expected from the CD by performing a few songs together with accompanist Patricia Lim, tenor Conrado Calnea Ong III and the Las Piñas Boys Choir.
Salazar featured solo organ works by Alessandro Scarlatti, John Stanley and Benet Julia while the Las Piñas Boys Choir rendered English and Filipino Christmas songs.
One of the choir members, Ramon Paolo Quintero, accompanied Salarza in playing the organ.
For inquiries regarding the CD, call Bamboo Organ Foundation at 8200795; telefax 8710795; or e-mail bambooorganfounda email@example.com