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Philippine Ambassador to France H.E. Ma. Theresa Lazaro with members of Pundaquit Virtuosi and its musical director Mr. Alfonso Bolipata (front row, 3rd from left) and resident conductor Maestro Ruggero Barbieri (front row, 5th from left).

11 June 2019, Paris, France – As part of its celebration of the 121st anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence, the Philippine Embassy in Paris organized last Saturday, June 8, a concert of the Filipino string ensemble Pundaquit Virtuosi for the Filipino community in France, as well as for friends of the Philippines based in Paris.

This group of young, talented musicians – nine female and eighteen male – all hail from San Antonio, Zambales and are part of a unique community arts program designed by Casa San Miguel (or CSM). The CSM is the 26-year old cultural initiative of the well-known, Juilliard-trained Filipino violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata that has been described as “an advocacy for a community-based independent and organic learning system for Zambales that encompasses arts education, environmental awareness and livelihood.”

In her welcoming remarks, H.E. Maria Theresa P. Lazaro, Philippine Ambassador to France, expressed her pleasure over having the opportunity to celebrate this year’s Philippine Independence Day with the Filipino community by showcasing a group of promising Filipino artists that have been brought together by Coke Bolipata’s love of music and more importantly, his love of country. The Ambassador said, “Let tonight’s concert inspire our kababayans by serving as a testament to the Filipino’s versatility and excellence in any field pursued”.

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Ambassador Lazaro delivers her welcome remarks, introducing the group to the Filipino community in France and to other invited guests based in Paris

The concert, held at the American Cathedral in Paris near Champs Elysées, featured a mix of classical standards and a number of Philippine greats. One of the highlights of the evening was Coke Bolipata’s performance, accompanied by the group, of the Filipino classic, “Sana’y Wala Ng Wakas” by W. Cruz. The audience, estimated at 180, were clearly enthralled and moved by his interpretation, as well as by the other favorites in the group’s repertoire. Maestro Ruggero Barbieri, formerly of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, served as the conductor during the concert being recently appointed as Pundaquit Virtuosi’s resident conductor.

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Mr. Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, musical director of Pundaquit Virtuosi, and one of the Philippines’ premiere violinists.

The Pundaquit Virtuosi is currently undertaking a European tour entitled, “Viva Virtuosi” and has so far visited three European capitals including France. They will be continuing their tour to multiple cities in five more countries until next month. For more information, visit the Embassy’s website and Facebook page. END.

Philippine Ambassador to France H.E. Ma. Theresa Lazaro with members of Pundaquit Virtuosi and its musical director Mr. Alfonso Bolipata (front row, 3rd from left) and resident conductor Maestro Ruggero Barbieri (front row, 5th from left).