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All-Male Group Wins Top Prizes in Choral Contest in Tolosa, Spain

An all-male vocal ensemble triumphs, securing top prizes in a renowned choral contest held in Tolosa, Spain.

THE Male Ensemble Philippines (MEn) clinched top prizes in the recently concluded 54th Tolosa Choral Contest held from October 31 to November 5, 2023, in the town of Tolosa in the Basque Region of Spain.

Led by their musical director Ily Matthew Maniano, the group secured the First Prize in the Secular Music Category and the Second Prize in the Sacred Music Category under the Vocal Groups Category of the competition, surpassing competitors from the United Kingdom, Italy, Iceland, and Sweden.

The Male Ensemble Philippines is a 6-member vocal ensemble under the Philippine Madrigal Singers Company of Artists, composed of singers from different world-class and award-winning choral groups, united by passion and love for ensemble singing. The group consists of Ily Matthew Maniano (countertenor), Amiel Job Liwanagan (countertenor), Tomas Umberto Virtucio, Jr. (tenor), John Philip Bautista (tenor), Dwight Benedict Chavez (baritone), and Nil’s Emerson Flores (bass).

Regarded as “one of the most important choral events in the world,” the Tolosa Choral Contest brings together top choirs from around the globe. It aims to bring together the best choirs in the world, in order to enable an exchange of styles, interpretation, choral literature, vocal education, and customs of each country, as well as raise awareness of the musical and cultural tradition of the Basque Country.

Established in 1969, the competition has become one of the most important choral events in the world through the years.  To date, almost 1,200 different choirs from all over the world have come to Tolosa to make their music.

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“The Cultural Center of the Philippines is proud of the success that the Male Ensemble Philippines achieved in the Tolosa Choral Contest.  We laud them for epitomizing solid musicianship as well as championing artistic discipline and respect. Our Filipino artists have been making their mark on both local and international stages, and the CCP supports them in their artistic journey,” said CCP president Michelle Nikki Junia.

The Male Ensemble Philippines is currently on its 2023 European Concert Tour from October 20 to December 19, conducting concerts, performances, and workshops in France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria.

Since 2018, the group has dedicated itself to promoting Philippine culture and arts through music.  They have participated in numerous concerts and events across the Philippines and abroad, collaborating with esteemed musical artists and cultural, government, and private institutions. Recently, MEn performed at the prestigious Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, following the invitation of the Philippine Embassy in Russia.

The Male Ensemble Philippines had performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as well, among them, TERNOCON in 2018, “Tanghalan Naming Tahanan” production of the Madz in 2019, as featured artists for BINURDA event in December 2022, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert “Messiah” in December 2022, and as part of the performance of the Philippine Madrigal Singers’ SIXTY OF PLENTY anniversary concert in October 2023.

For more information, contact the group via email at male.ensemble.ph@gmail.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram (@maleensembleph).

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