How the UST Chorus of Arts and Letters brings music in the new normal

Photo courtesy of AB Chorale

THE ARTLET experience would not be complete without the music of the UST Chorus of Arts and Letters (AB Chorale) echoing in the hallways of St. Raymund’s de Peñafort building at night. 

With the musical beat of the choir conductor Mark Agpasa, hearing the harmonization of the choir became a huge part of the Artlet culture—bringing color and life to their listeners.

However, with the sudden shift of events as the university shifted to online learning, the harmony of AB Chorale was tested tremendously due to limitations in rehearsing in person. 

Despite such restrictions, the rhythm of AB Chorale continues to play with a much deeper purpose.

Members turned family

From simple talks and bondings between breaks, the night was not yet over for the choir members as they usually eat dinner together after practice. They spend the night until lights off inside the university, just catching up.

ABC’s junior public relations officer Rommel Sales said, “The choir is very professional in nature but at the end of the day, it is still an organization so there were moments like gala, post-rehearsal dinners, inuman, and overnight sessions to practice a new song.”

At the same time, the Choir’s president Agee Mendoza emphasizes his fondness for the chorale’s post-rehearsal and the behind-the-scenes moments that are important as the performance itself. 

He added that it is usual for them to sing in public places like jeeps and restaurants.

Other than missing the physical practices, performing in front of an audience is something they miss the most. The long drives, team dinners, and new people they meet every time they perform outside UST are something they will cherish. 

A newer normal

With the implementation of online classes, AB Chorale did what it could to adjust amidst the pandemic. Since interactions and engagements are now done online, they stepped up their game by continuing activities virtually and making their presence felt on social media.  

As the ABC public relations officer, Guianna said, “As someone who handles the social media accounts of AB Chorale, it really sucks up my time when it comes to planning contents and posts on our page, but I balance it by giving tasks evenly to the creative team because I cannot do it alone.”

When it comes to their presence online, AB Chorale never failed to keep up with the times and tried to stay active for the Artlets.

On top of that, AB Chorale put their passion into action as they initiated a donation drive last May until June for the benefit of the City Service personnels (maintenance crew and janitors) in UST. 

READ: Our ate and kuya in AB: Where are they now?

The different alumni, members, and even the trainees of the chorale performed online as people donated while watching their livestream on Facebook. 

AB Chorale conductor Mark Agpasa explained, “It’s a good thing because there are a lot of things happening now in the world, and instead of being paid for performing, we’re the one giving back to our [maintenance staff] in UST.”

Despite the height of the pandemic, AB Chorale pursues performing with their gigs and schedules outside the university to show that the melody of the chorale is still in tune.

Harmonizing the present

Photo courtesy of AB Chorale

Like everyone else, AB Chorale has high hopes for face-to-face interactions. However, along with the excitement comes worries. This is due to the massive adjustments the choir has to undergo with a probable shift from online to physical setting. 

READ: UST releases guidelines for expanded limited F2F classes

According to Agpasa, if face-to-face classes are allowed once again, they need to adjust further since most of the members who experienced physical classes are already graduating. 

With that, the remaining members who have yet experienced on-site classes would take a lot of time to cope with almost two years of online interactions. Getting familiar with their culture as chorale musicians would be difficult as well, Agpasa added. 

Nonetheless, for all the doubts and pressure they conquered, the pride and might of AB Chorale prevails. 

Agee stresses that aspiring singers should follow their gut and heart and just go for it. After all, he learned from the choir that it is okay not to be great at the first try. 

Kapag tumibok ang puso, wala ka nang magagawa kundi sundin ito,” he quoted the song with a full smile in an online interview. 

The effort and enthusiasm the singers have conveyed for the love of performing reflects on how the firm UST Chorus of Arts and Letters stands up until today. Regardless of the challenges it faced, its burning passion for music steadily remains. F

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