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SOM Launches First-Ever Tribute Album to Cecile Azarcon at Their Concert Sunday, April 27

Original Philippine Music (OPM) pioneer Cecile Azarcon

New York--Cecile Azarcon, esteemed Original Philippine Music (OPM) composer-lyricist, and premier local band Sounds of Manila (SOM), together with renowned musical director-arranger Lorrie Ilustre, are set to fill up the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway and 95th Street) via their concert titled "An Evening of Original Philippine Music with Cecile Azarcon and Sounds of Manila" on Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m.

For tickets ($60-VIP, $45-Orchestra, and $35-Balcony), visit or call Symphony Space box office at 212-864-5400 from Tuesday to Sunday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., or call Synergy Production & Marketing Inc. at tel. no. 212-206-1627.

The concert, which is Azarcon's first official performance in New York, serves as a launch pad for SOM's debut album, "Sounds of Manila Sings Cecile Azarcon," which scores another first as the only tribute album to the legendary songwriter, whose timeless love songs "Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin," "Even If," "How Did You Know," "I Think I'm In Love," and many more, have inspired and treasured by generations of Filipinos and Filipino Americans for nearly four decades.

The momentous tribute album, available at the concert venue and in digital stores soon, contains three new songs and reimagined timeless classics written by Azarcon and arranged by Illustre. The album is produced by Azarcon, Illustre, and Ronnie Sabangan, SOM's bassist and bandleader.

Besides Mr. Sabangan, the other band members are Suzanne Lansangan-Sabangan (vocalist), who is married to Mr. Sabangan, Hermie Angeles (vocalist), Bobby de Leon (keyboardist), Aaron Garcia (guitarist), and JR Gendrano (drummer).

SOM's debut album tracks are as follows:

  • "All My Tomorrow," a new duet
  • "Help Me Forget," rearranged as a duet, originally sung solo by Kuh Ledesma
  • "I Think I'm In Love," rearranged as a male solo cover, originally sung by Kuh Ledesma
  • "Once It's In Your Heart," a new song, also recently recorded by Kuh Ledesma's daughter Isabella in the Philippines
  • "Special Memory," performed by Angeles, originally sung by female recording artist Iwi Laurel
  • "How Did You Know," rearranged as a duet, originally sung by Chiqui Pineda
  • "Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin," rearranged as a duet, originally sung solo by Martin Nievera
  • "Even If," rearranged as an upbeat track, originally sung by Jam Morales
  • "One More Try," performed by Angeles, originally sung solo by Kuh Ledesma, and recently used as the theme song for the soap opera "My Husband's Lover"
  • "'Di Na Maghahanap Kailanpaman," a new inspirational song, also recently recorded by Azarcon's nephew Timmy Pavino for Star Records in the Philippines

SOM, a band that produces an authentic '80s, '90s Manila sound, is entering its sixth year in the business. Its debut album, which took nearly three years to finish, is a huge milestone for these part-time band musicians, whose day jobs are either teaching at schools or performing dental work, or managing telecommunication projects.

Sounds of Manila band members are Bobby de Leon, Aaron Garcia,
Ronnie Sabangan, Suzanne Lansangan-Sabangan, Hermie Angeles,
and JR Gendrano. Photo: Rex Romero

"It took us three years to plan, record, and mix the album because we all have day jobs and we had to raise funds," says Mr. Sabangan. "We laid down the vocal tracks for four days in California with the direct supervision of Ms. Azarcon and Mr. Illustre; but after that we were only able to finish one song every six months."

"Nevertheless, it's been overwhelming and humbling to have worked with Ms. Azarcon and Mr. Illustre. It's an experience that we can't put words on it," Angeles adds, "Both are very down to earth and helpful."

"So we hope to see you all on Sunday to pay tribute to a legendary composer. For 35 years, pinasaya tayo ng music ni Ms. Azarcon. Sa maraming aspects ng buhay natin--malungkot man or masaya-- kasama natin ang mga kanta n'ya. The time is ripe to personally thank Ms. Azarcon for all her contributions to OPM," says Ms. Sabangan.

For Sunday's concert at Symphony Space, together with Illustre as musical director, Azarcon will perform live. SOM will also premiere its renditions of "All My Tomorrow," "Ikaw Ang Lahat Sa Akin," "Even If," "One More Try," and "How Did You Know."

"An Evening of Original Philippine Music with Cecile Azarcon and Sounds of Manila," is produced by Synergy Production & Marketing Inc. Featured guest artists are Arnel Arcedo, Tony Gado, Jared Martin, Tiffany Viray, and Carlo Tampac of Chapter 2 band.

Sponsors include GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV, Anthilla Land Corporation (ALC), Mortgage Unlimited, Directv, X-clusive Marketing , The Filipino Reporter, Filipino Express, The, and Pinoy Radio.

Azarcon is a popular Filipino composer and singer, whose songs have been recorded by Filipino mainstream recording artists Gary Valenciano, Kuh Ledesma, Martin Nievera, and Basil Valdez, among others. She lives in Vallejo, California.

Ilustre is a renowned musical director and arranger who helped create the original sound of Filipino vocal groups The Apo Hiking Society, VST and Company, and Hagibis in the '70s.

Honorably tagged as "Ambassadors of Philippine Music," SOM has been the recipient of several awards for preserving and promoting OPM in the United States. These awards include the Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League (PACCAL) Award, the Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Award, and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations' (NaFFAA) Outstanding Filipino American Achiever's Award.

SOM's music ranges from the classic '60s and '70s to the most revered songs of the '80s and '90s; its repertoire is a blend of popular music, light rock, light jazz, R&B, and most especially OPM.

Article reprinted with permission from

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