NCCA awards composer Cagayan de Oro scholarship to record classical music works

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has awarded a composer from Cagayan de Oro a grant to record his body of classical music compositions.

NCCA winner, renowned classical music composer Kagay-anon Niño Cesar Borromeo Tiro, has received support from the Commission under its 2022 Competitive Grants Program after winning a Ani ng Dangal (harvest of honours) for his Phantasie for Ludwig.

The composition was performed by concert pianist Susanne Kessel in Volume 9 of her Global Composition Project 250 piano pieces for Beethoven. Tiro’s Phantasie für Ludwig quickly became an audience favorite during Kessel’s concerts and promotional tours in 2019.

The Ani ng Dangal is an organizational award given by the NCCA to Filipino artists of natural origin who have garnered the highest honors at international events in one of seven artistic disciplines: Architecture and Allied Arts, Film, Dance, Dramatic Arts, Literary Arts , music and visual arts, including multidisciplinary arts.

First work

Tiro has used his scholarship for his project, entitled Niño Tiro: a compilation of chamber and orchestral works, which was approved in November 2021 by the National Music Committee (NCMusic) under the Subcommittee on the Arts (SCA), one of 19 National Committees of the NCCA.

The recording sessions were performed at Sounds Kradle in Quezon City on June 1 and 2 with the assistance of its CEO, Reginald Tan, and audio and video recordings by Holland classical specialist Lou Buela.

Musicians who took part in the recordings included Gina Medina Perez (violin), Nenen Espina (soprano), Anjo Inacay (cello) and Mary Anne Espina (piano).

Produced by Tiro, Emil Wright and Ena Tiro, the team is now aiming to have a first showing by the end of October.

“My project aims to promote and preserve local art forms and cultural expressions through my music,” Tiro said. “It will be an artistic rendezvous that will allow new generations to appreciate the value of original Philippine classical music in maintaining cultural identity and expanding knowledge of our musical lineage.”

“My goal is to raise awareness among young Filipino composers so that they can, through their music, express and inspire our society,” he added.

The artist

Maria Austregelina Alfornon, secretary of the NCM, said that the fact that a Kagay-anon won an international composition competition, among so many entries, “is proof that he is good [at] What is he doing.”

Alfornon added: “Unfortunately not many people know about this competition and have not come across Tiro’s works. We on the committee always encourage people outside of Manila to be part of the NCCA competitive grants.

A true Kagay-anon, Tiro was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro and began piano lessons at the age of five.

Among his mentors were the late concert pianists and composers Lino Abrio and Anita Nita Velez Abrogar-Quinto.

Even at school, Tiro was already displaying his musical qualities. With honors, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in music, specialization in musical education, main piano at the College of Lourdes.

He was also magna cum laude at the Conservatory of Music, Drama and Dance at Liceo University in Cagayan, where he earned another Bachelor of Music degree in composition. At the Liceo, he was supervised by Professor Horst-Hans Bäcker, a world-renowned composer and conductor.

Bäcker called Tiro the best composition student he had in his decades of teaching.

“I am not surprised by his excellent compositions, and I am very proud of the successes he has already achieved,” he said of his pupil.

Apart from classical music, Tiro has also dabbled in other musical genres such as rock, blues and jazz. He plays electric bass as a professional session player in various local bands and as the principal bass player of the Cagayan de Oro Symphony Orchestra.

“Born at the Wrong Time”

Tiro has described his music as “anachronistic, eccentric, eclectic and downright melodic”.

Advertised as a “composer born at the wrong time”, his music has been described as “neo-classical and neo-romantic with a touch of modern idiom”.

Three of his works – Concerto for piano and orchestra in D minor, soundtrack of the lucid dreamer, Sonata for clarinet and piano – are now part of the eScholarship Contemporary Music Score Collection, which is an open-access publishing platform supported by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 2021, he co-wrote the soundtrack for the restored 1911 silent film Pinocchio with Italian violinist Tullio Vidmar.

“Composer par excellence”

His works have been accepted for publication in 2022 by music publisher Universal Edition (EU) which has a catalog of over 30,000 items, ranging from the symphonies of Gustav Mahler to the post-war modern music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez, and contemporary music by Wolfgang Rihm, Georg Friedrich Haas and Friedrich Cerha.

Tiro currently teaches piano/composition music at the Liceo Conservatory, where he also holds the academic chair.

“Niño is not just a composer par excellence, but a respected colleague, team player and professional,” said baritone Cipriano “Zip” de Guzman, Tiro’s multi-award winning Conservatory colleague.

“He generously shares his artistic talent with his students, as well as his ideas with his colleagues. His selflessness makes him a good team player and academic president,” De Guzman said. – Rappler.com

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