by Mel Fernandez

AUCKLAND – It’s not very often that one gets to hear the many genres of classical, stage and popular music come alive at a Filipino community event in New Zealand. So the ‘To Live … To Love … To Share’ concert on March 23rd at the Holy Trinity Cathedral was a special treat.

The world renowned Filipino-American operatic tenor and philanthropist Sal Malaki enthralled over 500 concert goers – Pinoys and Kiwis – with a riveting performance. Sharing the stage with him were well-known New Zealand accompanist and musical director Catherine Carr, vocalist Devin Ashton and soprano Danielle Brookbanks.

Speaking to FMN on the eve of his concert, Malaki said that his repertoire for the Auckland concert would feature: “A slice of the whole spectrum of music – as I cater to all ages. Besides the classic operatic songs there will be Maori songs (Pokarekare Ana and Hine e Hine), Filipino folk songs (Pobreng Alindanaw – Cebuano and Mimingawan Ka man Iday – Northern Leyte/Samar), theatre and musical numbers and popular songs.”

“Sal’s performance of classic and contemporary operatic and stage music was exceptional,” praised Jesus Domingo, the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, on social media. “Congrats to the Leyte-Samar NZ Solidarity Foundation for an excellent concert! You made us all proud!”
Speaking to FMN during the concert, the Ambassador noted that: “Music is a universal language and I think it’s really music that is the forte of Filipinos. And I really like to see more of our Philippine music talents, not just say Filipinos singing and performing Filipino pieces, but here where you have the Leyte-Samar Foundation bringing in a tenor, Sal Malaki, an internationally renowned opera and classical singer and sharing his talent with the community and also showing that this is the forte of the Filipino community.”

Malaki, who is from Hinunangan in Southern Leyte, studied at the University of the Philippines College of Music, Majoring in Voice and with a Teacher’s Diploma in Flute. He sang with the world-acclaimed Philippine Madrigal Singers in Manila, before moving to California in the 1990s.

He is the only Filipino member of two prominent ensembles in the U.S. – the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Opera. He is a tenor at the Los Angeles Opera Company and at the L.A. Master Chorale. He has appeared in over 85 opera productions with the Los Angeles Opera since 1995.

His international concerts were also held in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Switzerland. “Outside of the US my concerts are primarily to help out NGOs and the communities,” said Malaki. “There was a concert to support a feeding program in Tacloban, a scholarship programme in Surigao City for seminarians and a seniors’ rehabilitation programme in Singapore.”

Proceeds from the Auckland concert will fund the Leyte Samar’s 2 year Conservation Programme in New Zealand. Malaki told FMN that he is planning to have another concert in New Zealand in the near future.
This concert was a Leyte-Samar NZ Solidarity Foundation, Inc. production, in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in NZ.

The event was supported by Western Union, i-Travelplan, O’Reilly’s Motel, New Zealand Home Loans, Ready Press Print Ltd, Florence Court, Nanam, TFC, Megaworld International, Extreme Audio Visuals, the Northern School of Performing Arts and Filipino Migrant News.