A musical concept in which instruments are used to express sounds of nature or to describe events is newest composition from Florante Aguilar and Utom Ensemble

A musical concept in which instruments are used to express sounds of nature or to describe events is newest composition from Florante Aguilar and Utom Ensemble
Inspired by T’boli people of Southern Mindanao, Philippines, New Composition Debuts at the San Francisco International Arts Festival and Brava Theater June 1 & 9

Florante Aguilar (center) and his Utom Ensemble (left to right): Nick Galang, Caroline Cabading-Canlas, Greg Kehret, and Sage Baggot

Florante Aguilar (center) and his Utom Ensemble (left to right): Nick Galang, Caroline Cabading-Canlas, Greg Kehret, and Sage Baggot

San Francisco, CA - April 30, 2019 - Kularts, the United States’ premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipinx arts, has commissioned Florante Aguilar — artist, creator, performer and leading figure championing Philippine music art forms — and the Utom Ensemble with T’boli master artist Joel Ganlal to perform the world premiere of Utom, a new composition inspired by the music of the T’boli people of Southern Mindanao, Philippines. In nine movements, Utom musically narrates the myth of Lake Sebu’s formation along with T’boli deities and royalty – Boi Henwu the princess, Kludan, the hunter and Boi Henwu’s servant, and Lemugot, a demi-god sent to seduce the princess. The composition portrays the conflicts between the T’boli demigod, princess and commoner in the backdrop of the fabled Lake Sebu.

“I’m very excited to present Utom, because it focuses on music as composition - the first time we’re producing a show without dance, acting and singing. It’ll be purely the musician’s medium”, shares composer Florante Aguilar. “We’re using music to tell a story. In Western classical music, they call this ‘programme music’ where audience is invited to imagine a character or an event rendered entirely through music. Typically, audience would rely on printed ‘programme’ notes to guide them in the story. In Utom, instead of program notes, we’ll supplement the concert with short film footage on select tracks where emphasis and clarity are needed.”

Florante Aguilar is a composer who demonstrates the balance of respecting and redefining Philippine music art forms and their long-standing traditions. In Utom, T’boli people's thriving music and art practice, their ancient mythologies, and their belief in the power of art as a spiritual tool to connect with divine mysteries inspires Aguilar’s work. “Utom” (oo-tawm) itself is a musical concept in which instruments are used to express sounds of nature or to describe events.

This composition is Kularts’ sixth commission with Aguilar, which was awarded a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation grant and will premiere on June 1st at the San Francisco International Arts Festival, and on June 9 at the Brava Theater Center. The performance will feature special guest, T’boli master artist Joel Ganlal on tinonggung drum, hegalong lute, and s’loli flute. For more information and tickets for the world premiere of Utom, please visit https://www.kularts-sf.org/utom.


Florante Aguilar: Utom (World Premiere)
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 2:00 PM
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Gallery 308
2 Marina Blvd, Bldg A, San Francisco, CA 94123

Sunday, June 9, 2019, 3:00 PM
Brava Theater Center
2781 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

About Florante Aguilar:
Florante Aguilar is one the leading figures championing Philippine music art forms in the US today. Born in Manila, Aguilar grew up in Cavite province where he learned to play the octavina in a rondalla group at nine years old. He trained to be a classical musician at the University of the Philippines College of Music and later moved to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music under scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory for Music. Aguilar advances and popularizes Philippine music through the medium of film, recordings and live performances. His constant search for a tradition-based contemporary Filipino sound led him to champion harana music – songs used in the now-vanished Filipino courtship ritual of serenading, and the subject of the 2012 documentary, Harana: The Search for the Lost Art of Serenade. Aguilar has been awarded grants to create new work by the Gerbode Composition Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the San Francisco Foundation.

Additional Quotes from Florante Aquilar:
Florante Aguilar has had a fruitful partnership with Alleluia Panis and Kularts. As collaborators, they have produced six commissioned works starting with Lalawigan (2009), Aswang (2013), Maség (2014), She Who Can See (2015), Bae Makiling (2016) and now Utom.

“These works - presented through the medium of theater, dance, music and multimedia - cover a vast array of issues important to Filipinos from the motherland as well as Filipinos in the US - from colonialism and lores to indigenous traditions and surviving in America. I like to think they stand on their own artistic merit regardless of nationality because they tackle the human condition. I’m very proud of these works.” - Florante Aguilar

About the Utom Ensemble:
Sage Baggott
is a third-generation drummer raised in the Bay Area and Austin, Texas. With a father in the music business, his early musical education consisted of hanging out in nightclubs, ordering Shirley Temples on the band’s tab, and listening to a variety of musicians and musical styles, from Western Swing and country to Zydeco, R&B, Tex-Mex, jazz and straight up rock and roll. He studied music from an early age, focusing on drum set and latin percussion, and has performed with many different bands and artists, including Orquesta La Moderna Tradición, Conspiracy of Beards, Awesöme Orchestra Collective, Los Cenzontles, Los Lobos guitarist/singer David Hidalgo, Tex-Mex accordionist Santiago Jimenez, Cuban percussionists Jesus Diaz, Roberto Borrell and Carlos Caro, famed songwriter and Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks, Flamenco performers La Tania, Chus Alonso, Alex Conde, Carola Zertuche, Jesus Montoya, and Clara Rodriguez, as well as ongoing performances with Florante. He currently composes music for film, commercial projects and video games with his company Spiky Blimp.

Caroline Cabading studied with National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and Master Kulintang Musician Danongan Kalanduyan and performed with his professional touring ensemble for nearly 20 years. As a kulintang musician and educator, she has performed and conducted music and dance workshops for the Asian Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, California Academy of Sciences, Ethnic Dance Festival, World Arts West, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, Mills College, UCLA, UA Anchorage, UA Kodiak, Tufts University and City College of San Francisco. She currently leads the traditional kulintang ensemble “Kultura Kapwa” and the kulintang-jazz ensemble “The Autonomous Region”.

Nick Galang is a percussionist, music producer, and DJ born in Manila and based in San Francisco. Before relocating to the Bay Area, Nick received a minor in Ethnomusicology from the University of Florida and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in World Percussion. He has trained with notable artists including Randy Gloss, Swapan Chaudhuri, Houman Pourmehdi, Andrew Grueschow, and Nani Agbeli. Recently, he has supported headliners at venues such as 1015 Folsom, 111 Minna Gallery, and the Phoenix Hotel. Nick would like to thank his family, friends, mentors, and fellow cast members for their support.

Greg Kehret graduated from the San Francisco State University School of Music with a Bachelor of Music, emphases on Classical Performance. His musical pursuits have lead him to explore punk, funk, hip-hop, jazz, dream pop, Tango, European café music, afro cuban music, and in recent years collaborations with Florante Aguilar on The Harana Kings album, ASWANG and related projects. By day he directs the Media and Accessible Design Lab at the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco.

Joel Ganlal is a T’boli culture bearer, healer and master artist on the T’boli t’nonggong drum, s’loli flute and hegelong lute. He is a T’boli master artist in t’nunggung drum, s’loli flute, hegalong lute, and dance. He has performed internationally with the Helobong Cultural Troupe and for projects by National Commission for Culture and Arts in California, and New York, and Taiwan.

About Kularts:
Founded in 1985, Kulintang Arts, Inc., now known popularly as Kularts, is the premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts in the United States. Through three decades of service, Kularts has grown into a leading elder arts organization, uniting generations of artists and community activists in a common effort to build a collective space and sense of belonging within San Francisco, specifically the SOMA Pilipinas: Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Kularts creates work that makes visible the contributions of Pilipino Americans and creates room for cultural continuity and knowledge.