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What is a fiesta without a band? This one has 14.

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THE MERRYMAKING in traditional Filipino fiestas is never complete without the presence of a brass band or groups of instrumentalists that parade through the streets with their cheerful music. And this fiesta will be brought to the stage of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on July 20 to 22 thanks to the 14 bands and orchestra groups that will perform in Banda Rito, Banda Roon.

Now on its fifth year, the band and orchestra festival highlights the repertoires of Filipino musicians from all over the country. This is the first time that any of this year’s participants are taking part in the event.

Live music is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture — despite the rise of Spotify, YouTube, and other free music streaming websites, they persist.

Hindi lang pinagpapatuloy ng ating kultura, kundi pinagyayaman pa, ang ating mga banda. Ang lungkot naman kung walang banda, ’di ba? (Out bands do not just continue our culture, they enrich it. It would be so sad if there were not bands, right?) They are part of our rich culture, from funerals and festivals, to Simbang Gabi and Santacruzan,” said festival director Herminigido Ranera when asked about the significance of bands in today’s society.

The two-day festival will have three main events: a gala concert of orchestras, and two youth symphonic band concerts.

There will also be parallel events such as an open air brass exhibition and a music fair.

“The festival is on a grand scale since this is a national event. Beyond the scale and scope of the event, however, is the fellowship and camaraderie shared between and among young and veteran musicians. The festival is also a venue where they could exchange learning experiences from their own regions,” said CCP artistic director and vice-president, Chris Millado, in a statement.

The 14 participating groups are the Lasallian Youth Orchestra, the San Beda College Alabang Symphony Orchestra, the Seven Spirit Kids Orchestra, the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra, the Taytay Youth Symphonic Band, Banda Sampaguita, the St. Scholastica’s College Wind Orchestra, Ang Musikerong Batangueño, the San Marcos Band ’92, the General Trias Youth Symphonic Band, Sasmuan Band 31, the Marilao Community Symphonic Band, PhilBanda, and the Philippine Baton Twirling Association.

Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman