The University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla (UPA&FR)
is a string ensemble based in Clark, New Jersey, USA.
Wherever it performs, whether it's formal or an informal affair, the music produced by the UPA&F Rondalla never fails to evoke pride in and a yearning for their homeland among the Filipinos and an awesome sense of love and appreciation for our musical heritage by non-Filipinos who are not familiar with our indigenous instruments. For what instruments could produce such beautiful sounds that resemble the soothing strains of music emanating from a cross between a violin and a mandolin, the non-Filipinos asks.
The establishment of the University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla, Inc. goes back to the old days of the once active U.P. Choral Group, a cultural arm of the U.P. Alumni Association of New Jersey. United by a common passion for music, its former members, initiated by Amor McGuinness, decided that forming a rondalla not only would give them musical fulfilment but also promote appreciation of Philippine culture in the community.
In October of 1992, this aim was realized with the arrival of the first batch of instruments from the Philippines and with the concurrence of Bayani Mendoza de Leon, versatile musician, composer, conductor, and arranger, to be the rondalla's coach and music director. The group's membership was later expanded to include non-alumni and interested friends from age 10 and older. Thus, the new name University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla(UPA&FR) was formally incorporated with the following purposes:
To promote the Philippine cultural heritage through indigenous musical instruments
To preserve and promote the native music of the Philippines
To propagate the Rondalla as a native string ensemble
The UPA&F Rondalla has made a good name for itself, winning accolades wherever it performs. Since its successful premiere gala concert at the Morris Museum Auditorium on May 7, 1994, the group has received numerous invitations to perform both locally,out of state, and internationally. It has played in several civic, social, religious, and cultural events. Its impressive string of performances includes the ASTA Convention at the New York Sheraton, the annual cultural affair of the Fil-Am of Monmouth County, the annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta in Georgia in September 1994, and the 1994 Philippine Festival and Fil-Am Expo '97 at the Meadowlands. It took centerstage at the Grand Bally's Casino in Atlantic City to cap the three-day Philippine Fiesta celebration there. It also delighted audiences during the International Festivals at Princeton University and Raritan Valley Commmunity College, and the Asian Heritage Celebrations at Rowan University & Cooper Union College and was invited back to perform at the Celebration of Philippine Independence in New York City, Passaic and Jersey City. In the celebration of the 97th anniversary of the Philippine Independence, the UPA&FR performed two successful concerts in Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas on June 10&11, 1995. On September 17, 1995 and September 28, 1996, their second & third gala concerts at the Somerset County Vo-Tech Theater was a resounding success. The UPA&FR performed for New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman at the NJ Ethnic and Diversity Festival in the Raritan Center Expo Hall on September 23, 1995 , for Philippine Vice-President Joseph E. Estrada at the Gala Reception in New York City Hilton Grand Ballroom on June 16, 1996 and for Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos at the Gala Reception in New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on November 26, 1997. On December 30, 1995 and December 29, 1996 , the UPA&FR performed at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution in the 1995 & 1996 Holiday Celebration. In the celebration of the Asian-Pacific American Heritage, the UPA&FR performed at the Library of Congress and World Bank in Washington, D.C. on May 2, 1997 and at the Airlie Center, Warrenton, Virginia on May 4, 1997. The UPA&FR was invited to be a key performing group at the 3rd Asian Festival on May 25, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. At the Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey , the UPA&FR delighted the alumni with their renditions during the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) Grand Reunion and Convention on November 9, 1997.The UPA&FR is the first Filipino cultural group to perform in the newly constructed world-class New Jersey Performing Arts Center(NJPAC) on November 30, 1997.(Click here for updated list of performances).
The diverse backgrounds and ages of the members of the UPA&FR, who come from all points of New Jersey, provide the organization with an abundance of energy and creativity that keep them going and persevering in their musical pursuits.
In recognition of the UPA&FR's invaluable contribution to the enrichment of the state's cultural environment, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded the UPA&FR special funding for its activities for 1996, 1997 and 1998 and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center awarded the UPA&FR a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Rondalla lessons are held every Sunday at 2 p.m.
at St. John the Apostle Church in Linden, New Jersey.
Membership is open to everyone!
The UPA&FR HomePage was created on October 22, 1995
and is maintained by J. Sonny Santos©1995