Ateneo College Glee Club: Singing hearts out for PH

David Lozada
World-renowned Ateneo College Glee Club brought honor and pride to the Philippines after competing in the 'contest of contests'

PROMOTING CULTURE. Ateneo College Glee Club performed Filipino ethnic songs at the 33rd International May Choir Competition Finals held on May 14, 2011 in Varna, Bulgaria. Photo by Ave Royd Santiago

MANILA, Philippines – Honor, prestige, and pride. 

These are the things that the Ateneo College Glee Club (ACGC) brought to the Philippines after competing in the European Grand Prix (EGP) for Choral Singing in Maribor, Slovenia on April 22.

Although the choir did not win the competition, the members consider the contest a journey. ACGC competed against 4 other choirs. 

The choir was composed of 39 cast members – the conductor, 20 alumni, 15 student members, two guest members, and one production staff. Among the members were vocal coach Joy Tamayo, assistant conductor Eugene Soyosa, 5 tour coordinators and 6 executive committee members.

The choir was conducted by Prof Ma. Lourdes Hermo, ACGC’s first lady conductor.

‘The contest of contests’ 

Qualifying for the European Grand Prix is considered to be an achievement in itself. EGP is arguably the most prestigious competition in the chorale world. It is also known as the “contest of contests.”

EGP is the annual finals competition between the champions of 6 major choral competitions in Europe, namely:

  • International Guido d’Arezzo Polyphonic Contest (Concorso Polifónico Guido d’Arezzo) in Arezzo, Italy 
  • Bela Bartok International Choir Competition in Debrecen, Hungary 
  • International Choral Competition in Maribor, Slovenia 
  • Tolosa Choral Competition (Certamen Coral de Tolosa) in Tolosa, Spain
  • Tours Vocal Competition (Florilège Vocal de Tours) in Tours, France
  • International May Choir Competition, Prof G. Dimitrov, in Varna, Bulgaria  


To qualify for the EGP for the following year, a choir must become a champion in any of these 6 competitions during the current year.

In 2011, ACGC competed in Maribor and Vana, two of the qualifiers. ACGC lost to Sofia Vokalensemble in Maribor, but emerged victorious in Varna.

Only 5 choirs competed in the EGP this year because the competition in Debrecen did not push through.

The 5 competing choirs were:

  • Ateneo College Glee Club from the Philippines (Varna) 
  • Vox Gaudiosa from Japan (Arezzo) 
  • Komorni zbor Oreya from Ukraine (Tolosa) 
  • Sofia Vokalensemble from Sweden (Maribor)
  • Harmonia Ensemble from Japan (Tours) 


Sofia Vokalensemble bagged the EGP this year.

DEEP BREATH. The ACGC before their performance in last year’s  33rd International May Choir Competition, Prof. Georgi Dimitrov. Photo by Royd Santiago

Not the first time

This year’s EGP is actually ACGC’s second attempt at the competition. 

Their first attempt for the EGP was in Debrecen, Hungary in 2001 when the college group qualified after winning in Tours, France the year before. A Hungarian choir took the prize that year.

ACGC’s first European tour was held in 1979 under Joel Navarro.

From being a choir for the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros in 1921, ACGC has become a world-renowned choir, bagging awards abroad.

Aside from winning last year’s Grand Prix in the International May Choir Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, ACGC also swept The Montrux Choral Festival.

One of its notable victories in the Philippines was at the National Music Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA) in 1980. 

The European Grand Prix Journey

For many of the choir members, the EGP journey has been a life-changing experience. Math major Mikhael “Gorby” Llado, current president of the Glee Club, shares this sentiment.

Llado, who joined the Glee Club in his freshman year, said at first, he had qualms about joining the club.

“I never really joined a choir until college, so everything was new to me,” said Llado. 

Yet his stay in the Glee Club has so far proven successful. He has been part of the European Tour since last year.

“I never really expected that I will be able to travel around the world with the ACGC, and so everything has been a blessing to me,” he added. 

Llado said, “The EGP has been the apex of my stay so far, being able to reach out to so many hearts in the performance of a lifetime.”

FILIPINO PRIDE. Conductress Prof Ma. Lourdes Hermo receives the audience's warm applause after ACGC's presentation in the 2011 qualifier for the European Grand Prix. Photo by Ave Royd Santiago

Next on the List

Given their successes, the question is: what’s next for the Ateneo College Glee Club? 

Llado said, “After the European Tour, I can see the ACGC building its traditions within the Philippines, staging more major performances of varying repertoire for our local communities.”

ACGC will also be competing in more choral contests in the coming years. One thing is for sure: the members will continue striving to bring pride to the Philippines. – 

(The following are the ACGC members who competed in the 2012 European Grand Prix: Althea Arion Agagon, Nicole Ang, Raoul Angangco, Elizabeth Arcega, Aileen Belmonte, Dom Joseph Bulan, Christi Caburian, Fredrick Cas, Abby Co, Angelo Cortez, Daniella Dasig, Fiona Estoperez, Leslie Gabe, Guita Gopalan, Jose Gutierrez, Maria Lourdes Hermo, Rina Joy Jimenez, Natasha Lamen, Alfred Lao II, Kenneth Lee, Mikhel Llado, Leo Locsin, Glacey Loiz, Joshua Lucena, Ma. Victoria Mina, Stefanie Quintin, Irvinne Redor, Justin Ruiz, Ma. Angelli San Luis, Rey Sanchez, Ave Royd Santiago, Carlo Serrano, Eugene Soyosa, Joy Tamayo, Pauline Tan, Will Nelson Tan, Kyle Tingzon, Kazuki Yamada, Miguel Yorro.)