Metro Safe & Sound: Katrina Saga Brings Joy Through Music This Holy Week
This former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, vocal coach, and up-and-coming solo artist's inspiring performances will uplift your spirits
Holy Week this year is different across the globe because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Due to the implementation of community quarantine in various parts of the world, it cannot be observed and commemorated the traditional way.
Filipinos usually spend Holy Week by doing the Visita Iglesia, a lenten tradition wherein people visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday. Or, by going to a church and doing the Stations of the Cross.
For obvious reasons, people will have to break these traditions, as everyone is not only encouraged but mandated to stay at home in order to stay safe from the deadly virus.
As the world ushers the advent of virtual efforts during this challenging time, in lieu of these religious practices, Metro.Style has organized an unplugged music video series to keep the spirit and celebrate the true meaning of Holy Week. Dubbed the "Metro Safe & Sound," this initiative will be for the benefit of ABS-CBN's Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig campaign.
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Metro Safe & Sound will bring joy, give hope, and save lives with music brought to you by some of the country's most inspiring singers. Through ABS-CBN Foundation, you can donate to Kapamilyas who are in need. You may donate through pantawidngpagibig.com or abs-cbnfoundation.com. Catch Metro Safe & Sound on Metro.Style’s YouTube Channel and Metro Channel at 4 PM starting this Palm Sunday. #PantawidNgPagibig #AtHomeWithMetro #MetroSafeAndSound
Katrina will be performing for you this Holy Week—on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
This talented singer took up BA in Music, with a major in Vocal Performance, in Silliman University College of Performing and Visual Arts in Dumaguete. From a small town girl from Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, little did she know she would sooner than later find herself in the big city of Manila where a lifelong career in music awaited.
Katrina made it through the audition rounds for the Sing Philippines Youth Choir, a provincial outreach program of the famed Philippine Madrigal Singers headed by choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio. She was pleased enough with her accomplishment—it is certainly an achievement to make it to the 50-person national choir whose members represent all the Philippines' regions—until Mark himself asked her if she preferred to sing with the Madrigal singers instead.
One can safely guess what happened next.
"It was definitely a life-changing decision. I have no regrets to have taken that leap of faith because from that moment on until 2019, my journey with the group has been a blessing indeed. I would then get to sing in the famous semi-circle for almost seven years and have toured almost the whole world with them, doing concerts, workshops, festivals, cultural immersions and meeting new friends and family," Katrina tells Metro.Style.
The trajectory of her singing career has been up and forward ever since. Though she no longer sings with the Madrigal singers, she is currently a teacher at the Philippine Madrigal Singers Music Studio, a private vocal coach to aspiring artists, a graduate student earning her Master's Degree in Voice at The University of the Philippines College of Music, and an up-and-coming solo artist, too. She also plays the flute and piano!
Know more about Katrina in this exclusive interview below:
When did you realize your love for music? Is your family musically inclined as well?
"I do have a very musical family and, growing up, I was exposed to different kinds of music from sacred to classical and jazz. My grandfather, the late Atty. Jose 'Pepe' Villegas Tiongson was a very big influence in my musical development. He would play the piano everyday from morning until nighttime and would ask me to sing some jazz standards and Filipino love songs, and little did I know, I was already having my first voice lessons right there!
"My dad sings as a bass in a church choir for more than 30 years now, and I believe church music was what I heard for the very first time and it just became a natural part of my life hearing him sing everyday. My mom sings, too, but I think she likes it in private, though her siblings have other musical talents as well, like playing the piano and the drums.
"I guess I fell in love with music ever since I started singing at the tender age of three and from that moment on, I felt like I needed music to fuel my daily inspiration and it eventually became a profession. It is the sheer simplicity and complexity of music along with its beautiful melodies and harmonies that keep me going as a performer and allow me to give back to God through this great blessing he has given me."
Who were your favorite artists growing up? What kinds of music genres did you grow up listening to?
"I grew up listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Regine Velasquez and Lani Misalucha to name a few. And at home, aside from these vocal divas, my parents would play smooth jazz all day long while my grandfather plays George Gershwin and Cole Porter songs, so I guess as a kid I was also more of an old soul."
What were your struggles, if any, as an aspiring singer?
"I think they were more of challenges as the music industry really changes in a fast pace and the competition for vocalists is an ongoing one. But I believe you only need to be at the right time and the right place with the right kind of people to guide you along the way, then it would be a fulfilling journey for me as an artist. When I decided to become a musician, the financial side would always come into the picture but I have given my craft more importance and how my training in the field would be a big investment in future. I love and enjoy my job, and I would like to leave my own legacy in any way I can for future musicians."
Please share how you became part of the Philippine Madrigal Singers.
"In 2013, the choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Mr. Mark Anthony Carpio, initially heard me in Silliman University when the group came for one of their provincial outreach programs; one such project of the group was named the Sing Philippines Youth Choir which comprises 50 singers to represent all the regions of the country. I was fortunate to have auditioned and passed, but when I came to Manila that same year, having encountered Mr. Carpio once more was a bit of a destiny in the making as he then inquired if I would like to try out and train with the Madz instead."
You're launching a solo career. What can people expect from you in this endeavor?
"Having my own career was always a dream of mine, and when I left the Philippine Madrigal Singers, it was a great opportunity to launch my own brand as a soloist. I hope to share my voice as a reflection of the culture and values that helped me grow as a musician. I would like to be known more as a contemporary commercial artist, and although I have a classical background, I believe merging old and new ideas into a performance can be a breath of fresh air in the music industry."
Who are the local artists you want to collaborate with?
"My dream collaboration would be with Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, Lani Misalucha, and Gary Valenciano. They are some of the artists I truly declare as my heroes because they truly embody what it takes to be a true performer through the years."
What's on your playlist now? What are your current favorite songs and who are your current favorite artists?
"I have a varied playlist right now—from classical music, operas, deep jazz, pop to country music and basically whatever mood I'm in can inspire me to listen to these songs. My top favorite songs right now would be 'Gipsy' by Suzanne Vega, 'Taking a Chance on Love' by Renee Olstead, and
'I Know You Know' by Esperanza Spalding."
What does music mean to you?
"Music is an eternal gift that I have been lucky enough to experience and live by, and this has made my life meaningful in every single way."
Watch Katrina Saga's performances for Metro's Safe & Sound Holy Week Series on Maundy Thursday (April 9), Good Friday (April 10), and Easter Sunday (April 12) every 4.p.m. on Metro Channel and Metro.Style YouTube channel.
If you missed it, watch the performance of 92AD band last Palm Sunday below:
Photos courtesy of Katrina Saga