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Photos courtesy of Mark Bautista
Like the sopranos Myramae Meneses and Renee Michaela Fajardo before him, tenor Mark Christian Bautista is bound for London on a scholarship with the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. But first, he’s got some sourcing of funds to do to get there.
On May 20 at 6 p.m. he stars in the concert “Hymn for a Dream” at Manila Pianos, Ronac Lifestyle, Paseo de Magallanes, Makati. Proceeds will benefit the trip to the United Kingdom.
His family is made up of theater artists and musicians. He was exposed to classical music when he watched their performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He joined music workshops as a kid, saying of his elders, “Their artistry and passion for music encouraged me to appreciate music and start my musical journey.”
In high school he was into solo pop singing, but all that changed when he heard Pavarotti’s “La Donna e Mobile” recording in his grandmother’s house. The song was famous since it was used for a TV commercial jingle.
He found Pavarotti’s singing “very natural. I got fascinated with his high notes! Maybe I was the only kid during that time that was impressed with this kind of music. It’s indescribable when you hear it at first, but it gives you satisfaction when you get to feel every note being sung by a singer’s voice or played by a musician's instrument.”
Bautista is not yet formally schooled in vocal music although he started training in choral singing during his college years. He looked for a voice teacher to further hone his voice and met teachers Pablo Molina and Camille Lopez Molina.
Recently, he was a student at international soprano Nelly Miriciou’s masterclass. He described her as “fantastic, approachable and very jolly. Who would’ve thought that I would be coached by the legendary soprano?”
She gave him tips and vocal exercises on producing a natural voice in singing and other tips on support. He said in his case, “there’s still need for practices and more improvement on my support when singing. I need to be consistent and to focus more on details. I learned and improved a lot from the maestra. Key takeaway from her is to be more disciplined in the craft. Passion is already there, you just need to tidy up things to ensure musicianship and brilliance when singing arias.”
Asked who are the singers he admires and why, he answered, “Ultimately, the legendary Pavarotti is my inspiration. He was one of a kind. He was really devoted on his craft, and I also want to become an inspiration to others. Another tenor I admire is Bryan Hymel. I’ve been listening to other emerging tenors and I find Hymel’s technique exquisite and strong, I can feel that he has all the endurance to sing as long as he can singing difficult arias.”
He singled out Arthur Espiritu and his teachers, the Molina couple. He said, “Espiritu has been a great inspiration to us young Filipino classical singers to pursue our careers to greater heights. It’s a big help when a fellow artist is very visible and successful in the international scene.”
The road to Guildhall wasn’t easy. Bautista was hesitant in auditioning for the 2017 auditions because he was busy with his day job as an information technology professional (he’s a College of St. Benilde graduate in bachelor of science, major in information system) and he did not have enough money to fly to Hong Kong.
He thought of auditioning for the next school year. But Lopez Molina was invited by Armin Zanner, Guildhall voice department head who said that if she would visit Hong Kong again with a student auditioning, he would meet with her to discuss music and teaching and give updates on Meneses and Fajardo.
This message teacher and student took as a sign to try out despite limited preparations. Bautista sang one oratorio (“Comfort Ye My People”), one Italian art song (“Vaghissima Sembianza”) and one German lieder (“Zueignung”). He observed that the panels were pleased with his performance when they congratulated him.
Two weeks later, he got confirmation that he passed the audition and won a partial scholarship grant of 10,000 pounds. He still needs to do some fund raising to complete the full tuition fee, but already he has taken a big step in his dream of studying music abroad.
For his May 20 concert program, there will be a mix of Italian art songs and arias, Filipino classics, Broadway and choral music. Guest artist is soprano Anna Migallos. Accompanying pianist is Camille Lopez-Molina.
Bautista also invited Chorus Dei Gratias, his choir friends and alumni of award-winning choir groups, Coro San Benildo and TINING: Ang Koro ng Letran ng Calamba to sing with him a few choir pieces. The group will be conducted by his uncle and mentor Lorenzo Gealogo.