Robert Shroder is very appreciative of FilAm community’s support of FASO
Words and photography by Rene Villaroman
I paid Robert Shroder enough accolades when the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) made its debut concert at the Saban Theater in Beverly a few years ago. Back then I was a writer for its sponsor and founding entity, Asian Journal Publications. FASO had a number of other concerts in the intervening years, and I was fortunate enough to have written about FASO’s earlier concerts when it was still trying to coalesce into a full-pledged symphony orchestra, and have noted their evolution into what they are today, a much improved, cohesive ensemble that is almost at the top of its game.
FASO’s ‘Bach to Rock’ concert at the Ford Theater on Saturday, July 28 was a validation of this orchestra’s slow but steady metamorphosis into a remarkable music-making organization. I talked with Maestro Bob Shroder at the reception that FASO tendered at the Mayflower Restaurant in Chinatown an hour after the sold-out concert at the Ford Theater, and I could not hide my excitement over the raucously successful ‘Bach to Rock’ concert.
“That was my concept,” Bob told me, recounting the genesis of FASO’s latest concert. He said the concept of that concert began even before the last big concert that they performed at the Cathedral of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, one of a couple that I failed to watch. “I put in a couple of different concepts, and came up with ‘Bach to Rock’ concert, which highlighted the orchestra’s diverse repertoire. “That is why when we had the opportunity to be able to do our next concert, that is the one I put next in line,” Shroder explained. “It was a good thing because in ‘Bach to Rock’ we were able to showcase the orchestra’s versatility. FASO is not only playing classical music, but also pop, rock and many other music genres. This is really a versatile orchestra now.”
FASO had about six to eight rehearsals before curtain time on Saturday, says Bob. “Some members have day jobs, and some also play in other orchestras. We don’t get 100 per cent attendance,” says Bob. “It’s quite challenging. We only got 100 per cent attendance during the last three, four rehearsals.”
I asked about FASO’s upcoming projects and Bob told me that they are supporting the FilamArts Festival of the Arts in September in San Pedro. “But we are starting to think about our Christmas Concert because we would like to do an annual Christmas concert for our community,” he revealed to PWD.
Bob is bullish on the future of FASO because he feels that at this juncture that FASO will begin to get more support from the community. “We really need some funding because it costs a lot of money to be able to produce a 60-piece concert, so we need support from the community. We are going to work hard in order to do a Christmas concert this year. Once we are able to do it, and if we are positive that the community will support it, we will do the concert in an annual basis. “FASO is now looking at a couple of venues other than the Cathedral of the Angels where they could hold the Christmas concert. It will also do a repeat fundraising concert in San Diego in June 2013.
The director said that FASO always tries to be positive, but laments that some members of the FilAm community do not buy their tickets until the last minute. “We don’t have a lot of seed money. It’s quite rattling if we are unsure if people are going to support our concert. There is quite a stress level if people begin getting their tickets a three to four days before the concert,” Bob lamented. “If our kababayans would buy their tickets early, it could alleviate a lot of pressure for production people putting together this concert,” Bob added. He said that their productions, unlike others that are well-funded, are not put up to make money. “We would like to make money to be able to help younger kids to learn music,” Bob revealed. “They (concerts) are not really for profit.”
One of the most applauded segments of the ‘Bach to Rock’ concert was diminutive Merielle Enriquez’s solo performance of the Filipino hymn “Tatak Pilipino.” Bob discovered Merielle during a fundraising concert for the victims of Typhoon “Sendong.” “She plays the violin,” he said. “I thought she was just a trainee of one of FASO’s violinists. Then next thing I know she has a solo number. I heard her sing “Tatak Pilipino” that was awesome, so I told her ‘you are going to be one of the soloists in our next concert.’ Once we have finalized this concert, I told her, ‘you will sing that song’.”
Bob momentarily stepped off the director’s podium to play his flute and accompanied jazz singer Mon David’s rendition of a Chicago classic song ‘Color my World.’ “That was an all-time favorite; that’s our own time, yeah! That’s the reason that inspired me to pick up the flute. I was a teenager when I first heard that song. I fell in love with it,” he this giddy fan.
In closing, he told PWD that FASO is very happy that ‘Bach to Rock’ concert is able to bring quality music in the right genre to the FilAm community and that the concept worked. “We can be diverse, from classical to pop to rock. because we want all generations, especially those from our community, to be our followers, not only an orchestra playing classical music; we would like a diverse repertoire, like what we did tonight,” he said, elated.
“We truly appreciate everyone’s support; we don’t have enough assets so we depend on the support of media, social networking sites and some organizations; please tell Joel (Bander) we appreciate PinoyWatchDog.com’s posting on your web site.”