Top-notch composer Jesse Lucas goes full range
Jesse Lucas, the much-awarded composer of music for film, television, theater and dance, shows his best in a solo concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 20 titled “Full Range: The Music of Jesse Lucas,” in cooperation with Talent Factory Inc. and Artist Playground.
It is part of the CCP’s annual solo shows for noted musicians “Triple Threats”.
Lucas studied composition at the University of the Philippines’ College of Music. Fine examples of his work have been adapted by some of the premiere theater and ballet groups of the country, namely: Tanghalang Pilipino of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Dulaang UP, Dramatis Personae, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Ballet Philippines and the Philippine Ballet Theater.
Among his string of awards are Gawad Urian, Young Critics Circle, Star, Famas (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Science), Gawad Tanglaw and Aliw. He won Best Music at the 2005 Screamfest International Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. In 2010, he was elevated to the Famas Hall of Fame for Best Music.
Joining Lucas as guests are his dearest friends in the industry; Irma Adlawan, Liesl Batucan, Kakai Bautista, Roeder Camanag, Shiela Francisco, Al Gatmaitan, Franco Laurel, Sandino Martin, Camille Lopez-Molina, Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Ayen Munji-Laurel, Rica L. Nepomuceno, Tex Ordoñez, Bodjie Pascua, Sweet Plantado, Pillowcase, Jun-Jun Quintana, Valenzuela City Center for the Performing Arts and the Philippine Ballet Theatre.
Sandino Martin and Jun-jun Quintana will perform “Awit ng Hiling” from the rock musical “Junto Al Pasig” (Lucas—Jeffrey Camañag collaboration).
Liesl Batucan and Roeder Camañag will sing some of Lucas’s earliest works. Kakai Bautista will perform a showstopper mashup – highlights from the musicals “Urbana at Felisa”, “Quiapo”, GTF’s “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”
Irma Adlwan sings “Sa Kanyang Piling”— the theme song from her film “Sa North Diversion Road”.
A pop song collaboration with Jose Javier Reyes, “Kung Bakit”, will also be performed.
Shiela Francisco, Franco Laurel and Sweet Plantado will perform a suite from “1898 Ang Pagpatay Kay Luna”—a contemporary opera/musical of Tanghalang Pilipino (Lucas-Nonon Padilla-Paul Dumol collaboration).
Ballet excerpts from “Chanted Journeys” (Pax de deux) and “Darangen ni Bantugen” by the Philippine Ballet Theater along with soprano Camille Lopez-Molina will also be performed.
“Tawag” will be performed by Banaue Miclat-Janssen (Lucas – Maningning Miclat collaboration)
“A Mi Retiro”—an art song collaboration with Floy Quintos, will be performed by sopranos Camille Lopez-Molina, Rica Nepomuceno and Tenor Al Gatmaitan.
Love songs suite from the musicals “Darna”; “Daan ng Krus”; and “Sandosesang Sapatos” will be performed by Tex Ordoñez, Bodjie Pascua and Ayen Munji-Laurel.
Lucas gives us a glimpse of his life and works.
Did you always want to work for the music industry?
I’ve always wanted to create music.
Is it what you thought it would be?
I always expect the best from what you do. Life has many beautiful surprises.
Who had the biggest influence on your career?
Ryan Cayabyab, my mentor.
What’s the biggest advice you’ve been given?
To always listen to my inner voice.
Do you ever doubt your instinct?
No. I’ve always been instinctive in my approach to composing and arranging music in the different fields. I refrain from being too cerebral since i believe music should be able to speak to the soul.
Do you have an audience in mind when you compose?
Depends. Music composed for film and television, will definitely have a target audience, with the specific genre dictating what music should evoke what emotion. Whereas, others can be geared towards self-expression of the musical artist and not compose it with a target market in mind.
How do you feel when your composition comes out?
I let go.
What do you want to achieve with each composition?
To affect. To move. To inspire.
Do you need an ego to do your job?
An ego comes in handy at times when dealing with difficult and all-knowing people, especially those who do not know what they really want.
What are you like to work with?
I’m straight forward. I am realistic.
What drives you?
What’s the most obsessive thing you’ve ever done?
I am not comfortable with any form of obsession.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the music industry?
Artist empowerment. Musical artists can now easily share their music thru social media – Get instant feedback, develop their own niche. It has PROS and CONS which of course is subject to lengthy discussions.
How will losing the icons—national artists for music—affect the industry?
We need these national artists to constantly remind us, especially the younger generation, of our almost endangered “FIlipino Identity”.
What’s your take on the importance of celebrities singing your compositions?
Celebrities will definitely bring the piece of music or song to a wider audience but it should not be the end goal of songwriters/composers. It is more fulfilling to have the piece appreciated by an audience—interpreted or performed by talented people, out of the merits of the creation itself and not rely on the “star” factor of a celebrity.
Do you have a business philosophy when you compose?
Don’t settle for anything less.
How do you adapt to changes in the music industry?
The key to all these changes is the ability to adapt and not to resist change. Acceptance is the key.
What kind of a boss are you?
I’m very straightforward.
What’s your favorite thing about the industry?
Creative minds, fun and talented people.
Are you engineering your career towards any specific goal?
My only goal is to create something beautiful.
How does budge affect your creativity?
Big budget will provide more “creative tools” to execute the music—full symphonic orchestra—full choir. Lesser budget will of course challenge the composer’s resourcefulness.
How do you feel after a project is over?
I let go.
Are you a fantasist or realist?
Being a Piscean, I am day-dreamer. But i can easily do quick reality checks—accept and adapt.
Do you enjoy your spare time?
I have to. Balance is important.
Is any job too big?
I am always up for a challenge.
How do you deal with compromise?
One of the lessons I learned while working in a collaborative environment is that it doesn’t make you less of an artist if you allow compromises at times. There’s a lot to learn from making compromises—reality checks, learning from each other’s point of view.
Is perfection available?
One can only aim and aspire for perfection—perfect technical execution, perfect interpretation, perfect singers, perfect cast, perfect instruments. Perfection is only a state of mind. Imperfections bring that magical connection of the music or any other form of art to the soul.
Who are the emerging names in the music industry, especially composers?
Jed Balsamo. I am in awe with his high level of musicality.
Do you have creative frustrations?
I am a frustrated painter, poet and a classical piano player. What I cannot articulate, I express thru music.
How do you avoid talking shop?
Being an introvert, it’s very easy for me not to talk about anything.
What do you dislike most in the industry?
How do you switch off?
Though I am very patient, I do have extreme mood swings. I can be with you at a moment, but my mind’s drifting elsewhere.
Do you have work philosophy?
Don’t settle for anything less.
What’s got you where you are today?
Passion, failure, hard work, dedication and endless thirst for knowledge
Why do you like to stay in touch with the youth market?
I’d like to stay in touch not only with the youth market, but with different people in general; to be able to observe, learn and understand their sensibilities.
How would you like to be remembered?
Do you consider yourself to be a prodigy?
No. I’ve recognized my musical abilities as a child. But what i know now, is mostly thru self-studying and learning while doing on-the-job commissioned works.
Would you secretly want to become famous?
No. Being famous is fleeting. I would secretly want to be immortalized through my music.
Are you brave?
I am brave enough to ask and gather all my dearest friends in the industry to put up the CCP show full range!
What is your favorite music?
Schumann’s “Traumerei and Chopins’ “Etude Opus 10 number 3”
Are you competitive?
Being competitive is energy-draining. I’d rather exhaust my energy in a creative process. Besides, there is room for everyone. There’s no need to compete.
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