By DJ Mojo Jojo
The Philippines’ premier choral group, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, have worked tirelessly over almost five full decades to bring the Filipino’s incomparable choral gift to the world to touch hearts and improve lives through their performances and training of up-and-coming choral talents. On July 27, 2009, they stood both honored and humbled by the recognition of this unique mission as Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, formally designated the Philippine Madrigal Singers as UNESCO Artists for Peace. This recognition was granted in the presence of Ambassador Rora Navarro-Tolentino, Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate toUNESCO; Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Esteban Cunejos Jr. and other members of the Diplomatic Corps, and the Filipino community in Paris. After expressing their gratitude and plans for fulfilling the role of Artists for Peace in an acceptance speech from Choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio, the Madz delivered a stirring, sterling one-hour concert that reminded all present of their capability and dedication.
These hard-traveling singers, the latest in a long line of proud Madz generations, were brought together in 1963 for the first time by Philippine National Artist for Peace, Professor Andrea O. Veneracion. Their name has since become synonymous with peerless vocal skill, performance quality, individual discipline, and musical diversity. The Madz have spent the last few decades winning choral competitions such as the European Grand Prix – widely understood to be the Olympics of the choral circuit, which they have won twice – and reaching out to budding choirs from all corners of the Philippines via the Madz Et Al choral network. The latter has enabled many of these choirs to compete abroad and win, as well as continue the practice of giving back to their own communities. They have been recognized as UNESCO Artists for Peace “in recognition of their efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples in Southeast Asia , their contribution to extend UNESCO’s message of peace and tolerance, and their dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.”
Now named UNESCO Artists for Peace for the next two years, the Philippine Madrigal Singers are recognized celebrity advocates charged with the mission of embodying, and raising awareness in, the UNESCO ideals – including collaboration for the promotion of peace, security and fundamental human rights and freedoms – in their respective contexts through their respective means and talents.