The “Pangkat Kawayan” otherwise known as the “Singing Bamboos”of the Philippines ” is a unique orchestra that draws music from unconventional bamboo instruments. This orchestra is composed of musically – talented students from the elementary schools of Quezon City and Manila whose ages range from 8 to 19 years. Its direction and management is under Maestro Victor O. Toledo, conductor and Musical Director; Miss Elena C. Carlos, Managing Director and Miss Laura Gorospe, Executive Director. This dynamic troika has led the group through the years since September 6, 1966 when it was founded.
The group's musical instruments, numbering more than a hundred are made of six genera of the versatile bamboo in various sizes, shapes and designs. Include the bamboo tube or “bumbong,” the bamboo marimba or” “talungating,” the bamboo piano or “tipangklung,” the bamboo flute or “tulali,” the bamboo knockers or “kalatok,” and the bamboo musiscal rattles, the Philippine “angklung”. Completing the bamboo assortments are the drums, cymbals gong and triangle.
The forte of this bamboo band is native Philippine airs, mostly folksongs from different regions of the country. However, the group's repertoire also includes folk melodies from other countries, modern and popular music and some light classics.
This bamboo orchestra has fascinated and thrilled big audiences abroad in Japan , Hawaii , continental U.S.A. , Canada , Australia , Spain , the Peoples Republic of China and Hong Kong as component of the official cultural missions under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism. It was a big hit in three World's Fairs and Expositions namely, the 1070 Expo in Osaka , Japan ; the 1974 World's Fair in Spokane , Washington U.S.A. and the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville , Tennessee , U.S.A. It performed for Filipino and American communities in Maryland , Virginia , New York , Washington D.C. during the State Visit of the late President Marcos to the U.S.A. in 1983.
On the local and national scene, the Pangkat Kawayan performs at command performances for the President and the First Lady, at special concerts and cultural shows, at national and international conferences, and on T.V., radio and cultural outreach programs.
Today, as in the past, the “Pangkat Kawayan” continues in its mission to enhance and preserve Filipino musical culture and goodwill through the lifting sounds of the “Singing Bamboos.”
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