ON THE WINGS OF SONG
After five years devoting his time in Manila either teaching
voice, as well as studying and performing with top classical
singers of the country, Bicolano tenor Raymond Roldan has
finally returned to Naga City to teach music and voice in
Colegio de Santa Isabel.
Roldan's most recent achievement is when he completed a course
in Italian Opera Art offered by the Cursos Internacional de
Canto Francisco Viñas in Barcelona, Spain, under the tutelage
of famous soprano Magda Olivero. There he also competed in the
prestigious Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition,
with more than 200 participants throughout the world, and
received positive comments from the Panel of Judges, who
praised his singing by declaring: "Definitely, you have the
right kind of voice."
Roldan, who has been very lucky so far in the field of
classical music, debuted his first solo international
performance at the World View Festival at Sacramento,
California, USA, with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra as
the soloist of Lucio San Pedro's Sa Dalampasigan. His singing
has been heard in more than ten countries from three
continents. He also joined several international voice
competitions, including the Mary Garden International
Competitions in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he came in as one of
the six finalists. He was the winner of the 1990 National
Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) in CCP.
He is also considered as one of the most promising classical
singers of his generation. He has studied with Fides
Cuyugan-Asensio, Jai Sabas-Aracama and Ramon Acoymo, all voice
professors of the University of the Philippines College of
Music. He has also studied with American mezzo-soprano Kimball
Wheeler, American soprano Linda McGuire, Spanish soprano Maria
de Malibran and Germany-based Filipina Andion Fernandez, all
sopranos of international caliber.
It all started in 1995, when Roldan was invited to sing in one
of the UPCC's performances in Alegria Lounge by the late Dean
Reynaldo Paguio, then the music director of the UP Concert
Chorus. By then Roldan was determined to study music in
Manila, but was still undecided whether to study in UP or UST.
Dean Paguio's offer of a music scholarship simply tipped the
"I was the UPCC's tenor soloist for more than two years,"
Roldan narrates. "It was being a member of the group that I
honed my talent in music performance. We were used to
performing at least three to four concerts per week! It was a
lot of work. Sometimes we had to memorize a really difficult
work in just week. It wasn't just music-we had to dance, too.
We did religious and secular concerts, performed zarzuelas. We
did almost everything, from Bach to Bacharach!"
Before long he has been invited for solo performances. Most
recent was Philippine Opera Company's The Toy Maker, a
children's opera. He has also done the role of Alfredo in
Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata several times.
Why come back here, then? "It's not that I have actually
abandoned my dreams to make it big in the international
scene," Raymond declares in his usual mild-mannered way. "I
have been invited to join the Pacific Music Festival in
Sapporo, Japan next year. I also have standing invitations to
audition in Manhattan School of Music in New York, San
Francisco Conservatory in California and Curtis Music
Institute in Philadelphia. But I have my reasons."
Saving for the future? "Maybe," Roldan smiles. "Manila isn't
that practical anymore: the traffic, the dangers that one has
to face every day. Cellular phone calls cost the same whether
you're here or in Manila. The transportation between Naga and
Manila has improved a lot. And plane fares aren't that
He plans to found a music theatre company in Naga City. "A
zarzuela company doing original Bicol music. I have been
trying my hand in these things, and now seem a great time to
start it. I have always believed in Bicol talent. I hear a lot
of promising voices, and most of them don't know they have it.
Now if only we could harness these talents to pursue a higher
purpose. Music, after all, is art. Art reflects how we humans
feel and perceive our existence. I think it's time the
Nagueños be exposed to a different genre, a higher level in
performance. We are a very musical people. It's time to
discipline that gift and find out that a musical performance
doesn't have to be mediocre to be Bicolano."
Thus the stay in Naga seems justifiable. "It seems right,"
Roldan insists. "After all the good things that has happened
to me, I feel that I owe my birth place a big favor. Now it's
my time to share."