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World Beat World Music Filipino
EDRU ABRAHAM
at ang
KONTempoRAryong
GAmelan PIlipino

KONTRA-GAPI is a World Music Filipino that represents a Filipino artistry. This newest heritage touring performing group from the University of the Philippines captivated Edmonton (at the Myer Horowitz theater) and Calgary (at the Jubilee Auditorium) audiences. Its nation's wealth reflected in its repertoire goes back to the ancient sources of its ethnic lore in dance and music. The Theater Group in its 1997 World Tour of Europe, Canada and USA was brought to Edmonton by Rene S.J. Abada.


KONTRA-GAPI - Simply more than music.
By: Jocelyn Espiritu

The sold out performance on Saturday, August 23 of Kontra-Gapi brought a breath of fresh air to the overly suffocated Filipino music tradition that needed to be revamped, modernized and marketed. Kontra-Gapi touched, introduced as well as re-introduced Filipinos and Canadians of many origins to the music, dance and beat of Kontra-Gapi. "GAPI" means to shackle. The group takes a firm stand contra what stifles freedom, individuality and inventiveness. It also takes a strong position contra the idea that Filipino excellence in art must derive from the west. Instead, Kontra-Gapi asserts and proclaims that the artistic traditions of the Philippines and Southeast Asia including the gamelan are every bit as deserving of the highest regards and world renown as any others - confidently, a true and gloriously resounding source of pride. Edru Abraham has led Kontemporaryong Gamelang Pilipino since its humble beginnings in 1989 and has popularized the authentic Filipino sounds with Filipinos and non-Filipinos world wide. Upon hearing of the Kontra-Gapi's performance in Edmonton, I was inclined to ask myself "But what is Filipino music?" A music theorist may point out that the tones used in the kulingfan are merely pentatonic in nature (meaning a five tone scale) and that each instrument is tuned to a different pitch. A music historian may say that the Filipino gamelan is really a relative of the much famous Javanese gamelan and may have been introduced in the Philippines through cultural trade in the 1500's. Putting all that aside, have we really answered the question? To a Filipino, music is a way of life that shapes their very culture and personality. The "Ritual of Life" presented by Kontra-Gapi, beautifully portrayed the passing through life in the eyes of the Filipino and set to Filipino music. The music was strangely familiar and created a transcending gentleness in the audience that even brought some to tears. The clapping frenzy of the Palakpakan o Kapalpakan and the political chant Kalaya-an, Kasarinlan, Kapayapa-an sa Bayan brought audience participation to a different level: the people were no longer an audience but a community of brothers and sisters creating sounds as did our ancestors, and having a good time…. Filipino style. "We all have the ability to create music" Abraham says, "I don't ask my kids when they join the ensemble whether they have talent or not. I only ask: are you willing to work?" Abraham's openness and pioneering spirit have attracted many young Filipinos to learn more about their culture so often lost in the complexities of modern life. He has incorporated the 90's with the indigenous Philippines to a degree of epiphanic evolution that will come to be known as NeoEthnic. Indeed, Kontra-Gapi has proved to be simply more than just a music ensemble.

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