NEW YORK — In celebration of love without which its music ministry would have no reason to pray or sing, Himig Heswita is back in the United States for a spiritual concert series called “Be Not Afraid: A Message of Hope.”
Organized by the Ateneo Alumni Association Northeast Inc. (AANI) in collaboration with friends from the Filipino American community, the concert is for a limited engagement in New York and New Jersey beginning October 16-17 and culminating the weekend of October 22-23.
On October 16, starting at 1 P.M., the concert will debut at the San Sebastian Church on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, New York. The following day, at 2 P.M., the concert will be held at St. Anne Church, 3545 Kennedy Blvd., in Jersey City.
The following weekend, on October 22, at 7:30 P.M., “Be Not Afraid” goes back to New York at the St. Francis Xavier on 46 W16th St. in New York City. Finally, on Sunday, at 7 P.M., the concert venue moves to St. Elizabeth Church, located at 179 Hussa St. in Linden, New Jersey.
The concert aims to deliver a sense of hope and healing to the Filipino community adversely affected by the global recession. It bestows hope and manifests the healing power of God through meditative songs composed and performed by Himig Heswita and Friends.
In a statement, the AANI said that “our community needs this [concert] more than ever especially in these testing times of economic instability. We need to reconnect and renew our relationship with God. We need to recharge our faith and share our Love for one another.”
Himig Heswita springs from the early years of “Jesuit music” where it made its mark with its contribution “to baroque music played in Jesuit churches and taught and sung in Jesuit colleges”. Such tradition was carried on from generation to generation inspiring Fr. Eduardo P. Hontiveros, SJ, to compose a Filipino Mass while serving Rector of San Jose Seminary in 1965.
This was the turning point of Filipino Liturgical Music as compositions like “Ama Namin” (Our Father), “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri” (Magnificat) and “Pananagutan” were rolled out and led to the release in 1981 of Himig Heswita, an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines.
By 1994, younger Jesuit composers who helped Fr. Hontiveros with the album, produced Himig Heswita 2, considered as “a new stage of growth”, that featured fellow Jesuit priests Arnel Aquino, Manoling Francisco, and Nemy Que. This also spurred the formation of a choir that would include voices of Frs. Jun Jun Borres, Chris Dumadag, RB Hizon and Peter Pojol.
After three decades, in 1995, Himig Heswita bloomed into a stable singing group as it collaborated with instrumentalists. These concert musicians would bring a different flavor to Himig Heswita, making liturgies and performances even more meaningful. Himig Heswita has produced numerous albums and participated in a number of recordings for the Jesuit Music Ministry.
Since Himig Heswita 2, there have been five full albums: Best of Himig Heswita, Purihit’t Pasalamatan, Your Dwelling Place, Krus at Muling Pagkabuhay, and Stand by Me Still. Himig Heswita and their friends have also been part many anthologies such as Alay Kapwa, Far Greater Love, Something More and Believe.
In addition, Himig Heswita continues to lead in the development of local music ministries through the many workshops on liturgical music given by Fr. Manoling Francisco SJ, Arnel Aquino Aguino, SJ and JBoy Gonzales, SJ.
Tickets are priced at $20 and can be purchased online at www.atenista-usa.org or from Toti Sebastian (718-457-3575 for San Sebastian Church), Jojo Quiray (732-910-3365 for St. Anne Church) Ner Martinez (347-837-5853 for St. Francis Xavier) and Jonathan Dizon (917-886-5300).