Filipino-Australian artist Marcus Rivera may have travelled around the country touring for Opera Australia but he has always dreamed of performing music close to his heart: kundiman.
Kundiman, or Philippine folk songs, has become a lost art, especially for Filipinos who have long migrated to Australia. But he is hoping to revive that passion at his “All of Me” concert to be held at the Greater Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre in Plumpton next month.
“I remember listening to Sylvia La Torre (the ‘Queen of Kundiman’) and compared it to the classical Opera songs I have performed and thought, ‘Wow, our traditional Philippine music is right up there in terms of complexity and class!’”
After completing his studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Institute of Music, Marcus honed his vocal skills in cabaret, jazz, pop, opera and classical music.
But as those who have seen him perform at numerous community events can attest, he really comes to his own as a counter-tenor singer (male vocal range that is equivalent to the female ‘soprano’) and he promises to include that in his repertoire.
“I get requested to sing the Italian soprano aria ‘O Mio, Babbino Caro’ all the time. It’s a beautiful song but I might mix it up on the night and have a few surprises in store for the audience.”
Then there is his musical theatre background. Last year, Marcus finished the national tour of ‘The King & I’ where he was the understudy and performed the principal role of The Kralahome (Prime Minister). Several years ago, he took centre stage in the demanding role of ‘The Engineer’ in the Cameron Mackintosh production of ‘Miss Saigon’ in Australia.
“It was funny. I received a request on Facebook to sing ‘Why God, Why?’ from Miss Saigon. I think it is the musical that truly highlighted the Filipino talent around the world. Who knows? I might try and do a duet of ‘Sun and Moon’ with one lucky member of the audience at the concert!”
Performing Opera, Broadway musicals and Kundiman songs, Marcus promises concert-goers that it will be a show to remember.
“I might even break into a Michael Jackson/Ogie Alcasid/Luciano Pavarotti medley just to keep everyone guessing what song I’m going to do next!”
The concert is also a fundraiser. “Next month marks the second anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda and part of the November 14 ticket sales will go towards ‘Help After Haiyan’ while I’m dedicating the November 15 show towards advocacy for Down Syndrome NSW.”
Marcus Rivera’s “All of Me” Concert will be running over two nights, November 14-15, at the Greater Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre in Plumpton (114 Hyatts Road, Plumpton).
Tickets can be purchased online on www.tiket.com.au or call Loreto Pangilinan on 0403 018 454 for more info.