UP Madrigal Singers founder dies

National Artist for Music Andrea Veneracion dies but leaves a legacy

MA'AM OA. Andrea Veneracion or Ma'am OA, as she is fondly called by friends and admirers, passes away a month before an international chorale festival named after her. Image from the UP Madrigal Singers website

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MANILA, Philippines – National Artist for Music Andrea Veneracion passed away on the evening of July 9 at the age of 85.

Tita Andy or Ma’am O.A. — as she is lovingly called by her friends and admirers — is best remembered for founding the award-winning singing group, the University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers.

She suffered a stroke in 2005 and was paralyzed until her death. 

She founded the Madz — as the group is more popularly known — in 1963. She introduced a new way of conducting choirs in which the singers are seated in a semi-circle with no conductor. The choirmaster is seated at the leftmost of the circle, conducting the group.

Under her leadership, the UP Madrigal Singers won major awards in international competitions held in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany and more. They are the first choir to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing twice, in 1997 and 2007.

Watch UP Madrigal Singers alumni perform here:

In 1999, she was hailed a National Artist for Music. Aside from being an excellent conductor and choral arranger, she was an accomplished pianist and lyric soprano soloist.

She retired as the choirmaster of the UP Madrigal Singers in 2001, passing on the baton to her then-assistant Mark Anthony Carpio who is the present choirmaster.

Her death comes a month before the Cultural Center of the Philippines is set to host an international choral festival named after her. The UP Madrigal Singers also celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

The choir changed their Facebook profile pic to a sketch of their beloved founder. 

As of posting, details of her wake and burial have not yet been announced.

Fans and alumni of the UP Madrigal Singers tweeted their grieving for Veneracion’s passing.

– With reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

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