#ArtsPH - Artist Playground's Playlist Concert Series Kicks Off with Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart!

There was a time when tenor Al Gatmaitan found himself at a crossroads. He journeyed solo to Europe, even entertaining thought of never going back to the Philippines. Gatmaitan was already doing well then, performing for local theater groups in Manila but he wanted to pursue further studies.


Early into his three-year soul searching in Italy, Gatmaitan felt like the odd man out singing Italian songs, which lyrics he mostly didn’t understand. “I eventually fell in love with the language, and slowly warmed up to it  because is very romantic,” he recalls. 

Gatmaitan would win a scholarship for a Diploma in Teaching Italian Language Abroad from the University of Dante Aleghieri and scored more grants to study at Teatro Calabria (Acting and Diction); Spazio Teatro (Actor’s Formation); and Conservatorio “Torre Franca” di Vibo Valentia (Intensive Vocal Formation Training).

He could have built a totally new and permanent world for himself in Italy (where he started landing roles as an actor, too!) but he knew that cliche as it might sound, there was no place like home.    
Thankfully, Manila didn’t lose an artist as committed, passionate, and talented as Al Gatmaitan to Italy.   

Jesse Lucas
Upon his return, Gatmaitan was immediately featured in lead roles in plays like “Noli Me Tangere,” “Banaag at Sikat,” “Tales of the Manuvu,” “Skin Deep,” among others. He has also crossed over into more mainstream platforms like acting for TV series and films with such credits as “In Nomine Matris,” “The Mistress,” and “Aparisyon.”  

Soon, Gatmaitan’s musical prowess and versatility will take the spotlight as the first featured artist in the kick-off of Artist Playground’s Playlist, a series of intimate concerts. He will headline Track 1 entitled “Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart” on September 29 and 30 at the newest, hippest performance venue called Arts Above,  along West Avenue in Quezon City. 

The two-night intimate concert features a carefully selected repertoire brought about by wonderful collaborations with the award-winning composer and musical director Jesse Lucas.  They will be closely working with esteemed artists like director Andre Tiangco, acclaimed stage-TV-and-film actor Roeder CamaƱag

Lucas says that Gatmaitan was an easy choice to be the first featured artist of Artist Playground’s Playlist. “Personally, I love the texture of Al’s voice and how it rubs you the right way. It is seldom that we can find a musical artist who can cross over into other musical genres without losing the soul, and still owning the song, and also not sound too rigid.”

Banaue Miclat-Janssen
Gatmaitan remembers the time when he sang a duet with Banaue Miclat-Janssen in a concert called “Ginugunita Kita” (2015) held at the CCP in which Lucas set Maningning Miclat’s poetry to music. Banaue is incidentally one of the two guest performers in “Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart,” the other one being Sheila Francisco, who recently had a successful show in Singapore. “I’ve always wanted to collaborate with him (Lucas) again,” says Gatmaitan. “When he praised my singing back then, it was a validation coming from a maestro.”

The two worked together for two years on a three-track album that has already been released online. The album includes the timeless kundiman “Bituing Marikit” and “Sa Muling Pagsibol,” a poem written by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera as an elegy to the wreckage left behind by Typhoon Yolanda and set to music by Lucas. Gatmaitan will perform these songs in his concert.

“In My Heart” is poised to break notions that Gatmaitan’s gifts and skills are limited to doing arias. He is a classical crossover artist who can run the gamut of musical genres with ease and excellence. For this show, Gatmaitan will prove this through a repertoire that combines the classical and the more popular with Italian songs, the Simon and Garfunkel original “The Sound of Silence,” theme from the well-loved Hollywood film “The Graduate” (“Jesse’s take on ‘Sound of Silence’ is worth checking out,” says Al), the reggae piece “Despacito” with a new arrangement, Michael Jackson’s “Gone Too Soon” (Al’s personal choice), and the soulful Pinoy ballad “Salamin ng Buhay.” 

Sheila Francisco

Jesse guarantees that after watching “In My Heart,” audiences “will be moved by the voice and the soulful singing of Al rather than jest, ‘ang taas ng boses.’ More than the technique, it’s what we impart to the audience, the heart and soul, through our music.”

Lucas’ expertise and vast experience as a prolific and much decorated composer and musical director will serve to support Gatmaitan’s great, robust voice. “Dito sa ‘In My Heart,’ Jesse advised me to sing the songs the way I feel them which is in sync with how I do it. Hindi kasi ako masyadong ma-metro or measured as a singer.” 

The two-night concert is not only a treat for music lovers and concert goers and a feast for the senses but a showcase for the total package that is Al Gatmaitan. The title “Crossover Classical Artist” is no empty claim and in fact rings true since Al Gatmaitan is the kind of artist that mainstream audiences should discover right here and right now.

“The way I see it,” shares Lucas, “Sa industry ngayon, ang bilis ng turnover ng artists. It is best to take it one careful step at a time.’ It applies perfectly to Al Gatmaitan’s case. He is ready for the challenge and audiences should accordingly embrace this exceptional because the likes of Al Gatmaitan are the ones who are bound to stay when all the flashes-in-the-pan have long waved us goodbye.

“Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart,” will be on September 29 and 30 at the Arts Above, 112 West Avenue, Quezon City. For tickets, please call Ticketworld at 891-9999. Prices are P1000 for VIP and P800 for General Admission. Limited seats only. 

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