The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO), under the baton of Jeffrey Solares, emerged triumphant with a first-prize victory in the String Orchestra competition category at the 12th Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival held at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, on July 8.
The MSJO played their entire program from memory consisting of music by Mozart, Dvorak, Alcala, Florante and Castillon. After their 25-minute set, a member of the jury, Christoph Ehrenfellner from Austria, stood up and gave a quick comment about their performance, remarking on the warmth of their sound, and their movements on stage evoking the waves of the sea, something that he and his fellow Austrians envy about the Philippines, as they are in a landlocked country.
This year’s MSJO delegation had 84 participants that included 47 young musicians aged 10 to 23, three teachers (conductor Jeffrey Solares, violin and viola teacher Sara Maria Gonzales and cello teacher Arnold Josue) as well as 34 chaperones led by their main patron, Standard Insurance Group chairman Ernesto Echauz, who had been supporting the group since 2017.
Other winners in the string orchestra category include the Israel’s Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna String Orchestra (joint first place with MSJO); Montreal Suzuki String Orchestra (third place) from Canada; The Nanyang Girls’ High School String Orchestra from Singapore (fourth place); and the UWCSEA String Orchestra (fifth place) also from Singapore. No second place was awarded.
The 12th Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival is Austria’s most prestigious music festival with over 30 participating ensembles from 14 different countries. It is supported by the Austrian government and by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).