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Jimuel Dave Dagta shines in Musica Singers’ season finale

by Oscar Pantaleon Jr.

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Jimuel Dave Dagta is a full scholar in Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He also earned music composition degrees from the University of the Philippines and Michigan State University. (Photo by Ronnie Yatco)

Clear and crisp tones of Jimuel Dave Dagta’s bandurria resonated throughout the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre in Musica, An Evening of Songs from the Philippines, the season finale of Musica Singers of Manitoba held on June 8, 2024.

Vancouver-based Dagta, who is in his second year as a full scholar in Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at the University of British Columbia, came to Winnipeg to collaborate with the Musica Singers.

“I was thrilled but uncertain when I received the invitation just two weeks before the concert. While I was eager to help and contribute, I was unsure about my roles,” revealed Dagta. “However, after discussing the creative plans with the artistic director, my responsibilities became much clearer. I am incredibly thankful to Musica Singers for this opportunity,” he exclaimed.

With the bright and shimmering sound of his bandurria, Dagta played his arrangements of Ako Ay Pilipino with Lorenz Edward Sarrondo, tenor, and Usahay accompanied by Anica Warkentine on the piano. In old-time favourites Lambingan, Dungawin Mo Hirang, and Minamahal Kita sung by Musica Singers, he was joined by violinist Paolo Camus and young pianists Lorenzo Camus and Hannah Cachero.

Dagta and Sarrondo were contemporaries at the UP College of Music. “Dave’s contributions to the successful concert of Musica Singers have been invaluable. His knowledge and skills in playing multiple instruments are truly exceptional and admirable,” said Sarrondo. “Despite joining the group close to the performance, he was able to provide significant insights and materials that enhanced the overall performance of the singers and musicality of the show,” Sarrondo shared.

Dagta has been playing the bandurria since his elementary days in Davao City. Today, he has degrees in composition from the University of the Philippines and Michigan State University under his belt. A multi-awarded composer, he arranged songs for the Musica Singers concert. He also performed as keyboardist with MY Band, played the saronay, and sang tenor with the choir in several numbers of the program.

“I was particularly excited to sing Tagumpay Nating Lahat as I have known the tenor part since high school. This concert allowed me, for the first time, to display various facets of my artistry,” Dagta proudly said.

“Dave is a seasoned musician,” observed Jim Lopez, MY Band music director. “His virtuosity in playing the banduria and the saronay amplified the Filipino spirit of the concert and elevated the rendition of each song,” Lopez said.

Musica, An Evening of Songs from the Philippines concludes the maiden season of Musica Singers of Manitoba. The company is now poised to launch its second season with new repertoire showcasing the beauty and diversity of Philippine music, in keeping with its mission to promote Filipino arts, culture, and traditions.

“It is important to stay connected with our roots and identity. We have a rich cultural and musical heritage that we must not only advocate for during the heritage month but should remain a vibrant part of our daily lives even as a diasporic community in Canada,” declared Dagta. “Manitoba is fortunate to have the Musica Singers, a flourishing performing group that promotes Philippine music and culture with a high level of artistry.”

Dagta’s impressions are shared by Winnipeg actor, director, and producer Hazel Venzon who exclaimed, “[Your] performance was truly a wonderful experience! So many memorable moments, from the simplicity of the entire house singing the national anthem to the regional music that seemed to take the breath away from us all. I was so impressed with the journey that we were taken on. The program choices were very good and offered dynamism and a sense of unpredictability, which I love,” she added.

During his short stay in Winnipeg, Dagta felt at home with the choir. He said, “Everyone is supportive of one another, and I deeply admire their passion and dedication. The Musica singers are a joy to work with; you know you are surrounded by people you can trust.”

As Musica Singers prepares for its sophomore season, talks are underway for Dagta’s return to Winnipeg. Expect more collaborations of the choir with him not only as an instrumentalist, singer, and arranger, but also as a composer.

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Ako ay Pilipino and Usahay are two of the songs with bandurria arranged by Jimuel Dave Dagta especially for the Musica Singers. A highly skilled bandurria player, Dave started learning to play the instrument as a kid in Davao City. (Photo by Rollan Temporosa)
A suite of modern kundimans was woven into a story about a love letter reaching the hands of the wrong person. In telling the story, Musica Singers members not only sang but danced and acted as well. (Photo by Rollan Temporosa)
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Jean Lopez sang a soulful rendition of Asin’s modern classic Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran with MY Band music director Jim Lopez on vocals and guitar, along with Jimuel Dave Dagta on the bandurria. (Photo by Rollan Temporosa)
Musica Singers artists undergo rigorous rehearsals thrice a week for at least two months to prepare for a major concert. In addition to singing in harmony, artists are also expected to learn movement and choreography. (Photo by Rollan Temporosa)