The Abelardo Hall Auditorium

AHA celebrating 50 years (1963-2013)

With great joy and pride, the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music celebrates the 50th anniversary of the abelardo hall in UP Diliman campus, the auditorium of which has been, since 1963, its most significant and visible component. as an academic school of music founded in 1916, UP College of Music or abelardo hall has been mandated to educate and train musicians and thinkers of music, many of who--as their accomplishments within almost a hundred years of existence would attest- -have been catalysts in the Filipino nation’s cultural development. In the 50-year age of the infrastructures known as “abelardo hall,” the College’s distinguished curricular programs in performance, pedagogy, composition, and research have produced alumni whose music, past and present, here and abroad, has expressed the spirit of solidarity, which unified countless Filipino communities. as a musicologist, allow me to remind the reader that music’s gestures in human relations and in society do not merely pertain to the conveyance of physical sensations and entertainment, but that music’s “harmonized” sounds are, more significantly, performative of friendship, human courtesy, politeness, and even a “weapon of the weak” in unjust political relations. with music, sensations of human solidarities are deepened and purposes more humanly defined so that, even though music is an ornament, it is what, in fact, makes life more worthy of living for.


In this special issue, we remember the people who moved the infrastructure of abelardo hall to the world of greatness, breathing a culture of excellence in it as well as projecting unassailable Filipino identities in music performance, pedagogy, composition, and musical thinking. a reflective pause in the continuing mission of the school to offer music education at the tertiary level, this 50th year memorabilia broaches upon the reminiscences of our teachers, former students, and friends who experienced musical life in abelardo hall. we inscribe their personal memories into this material so as to make permanent the narratives that would strengthen the future of the institution. abelardo hall has not been a mere complex of buildings, physical things made of steel, wood, glass, and concrete. what made them worthy of remembrance are the concrete memories of great individuals who inhabited the space in the context of the purposive program of social action that fulfills the passionate goal of higher education in music. Standing for musical leadership not only in the Philippines but in Southeast asian region as well, abelardo hall has indeed been a symbol of this shared and cherished vision of education, advanced musical work, discipline, and social cooperation.


It is therefore in the spirit of recollecting these social ideals and standards actualized for the past fifty years that we usher in a trajectory for abelardo hall for the next fifty years. Our infrastructure has been dedicated to one of the first graduates of the UP College of Music composition program, Nicanor abelardo, and who today remained unsurpassed as the greatest nationalist cosmopolitan Filipino composer of all times. Because his music epitomizes musical excellence, progressive in outlook yet essentially rooted in Filipino sensibility, it is but fitting to renew the call for music leadership in the field of higher education that the name “abelardo” symbolizes. to the contributors of this issue, thank you so much. Your memories of the place will surely inspire our future students so that they will constantly strive for excellence. Mabuhay to us all!

from the Abelardo Hall Auditorium @ 50 Commemorative Magazine



Article from AHA@50 Commemorative Magazine


 With the commemorative plaque posted on a pillar at the lower front lobby of the abelardo auditorium informs the viewer of significant acknowledgements:


“ Completed on august 24, 1963, this auditorium of the Conservatory of Music was built jointly by the U.S. agency for International Development and the University of the Philippines to provide a meeting place for all those who love to hear the finest music interpreted by native and visiting artists. Dedicated to Nicanor abelardo(1893-1894) in a tribute evoked by Pres. Carlos P. Romulo to the memory of the most highly esteemed of Filipino Composers, one of whose enduring compositions is “UP Beloved”.


A brief mention of two historical pre-Diliman sites of the (then) Conservatory of Music would provide the reader with a perspective on this article. the first is the rented ancestral residence of Don Pablo Ocampo located at 963 Calle r. hidalgo, Quiapo, Manila, when the Conservatory of Music was formally founded on Sept. 4, 1916. Pablo Ocampo was a lawyer and member of the Malolos Congress. he became resident Commissioner to the United States. the second was the newly-built villamor hall, named after judge Ignacio villamor, the 2nd and 1st Filipino UP president, located at the corner of taft avenue and Padre Faura. the souvenir program of its festive inauguration and dedication on November 29, 1933 is a rich source of information on the achievements of its new second floor occupant - the (then)seventeen - year old Conservatory of Music. an alumna recalls that chorus classes were held at the top floor. Cooccupants of the building on the first floor was the School of Fine arts.



The vision and reality of an edifice to be used exclusively by the Conservatory of Music was presaged in early 1949 with the approval by the UP Manila Executive Committee on Construction and Development of its construction (along with eight other buildings) upon the transfer of UP to Diliman. Organized on October 15, 1948 with the formidable task of directing the building program in the new campus, the committee was led by no less than the sixth UP president - Dr. Bienvenido Maria Gonzalez. the members were: Dr. Enrique virata, business manager; Prof. angel Martinez, consulting engineer, replaced by Dr. vidal tan, then Dean of the College of Engineering when the former passed away; Cesar h. Concio, university architect; and Felipe De jesus Nakpil, consulting architect. Concio and Nakpil were sent abroad to study trends in architecture that are adaptable to the environment and culture of tropical countries.

The above-mentioned approval was prompted in anticipation of the imminent relocation of the fast expanding UP from its original site in Manila to a much needed greater land area.


With the exception of the Medical and Nursing departments, the exodus from the 10-hectare Manila Campus to the 493- hectare Diliman Campus took place during the Christmas break from December 16, 1948 to january 11, 1949. Only two war-damaged but repaired concrete buildings (Colleges of Law and Education) existed along with the semipermanent Quonset structures, rows of bamboo-sawaligalvanized iron cottages all vacated by the U.S. army after world war II. Until the completion in Diliman of their respective concrete buildings, in conformitiy with the time table of the Committee on Construction and Development, the academic and service units were temporarily settled in these non-concrete structures which functioned variably as classrooms, service offices, family residences of professors, and student dormitories, all stationed at different Diliman sites named as area 1, area 2, area 3, area 10, area 11, area 14, and area 17. the move was so planned to have the 40th founding anniversary of UP celebrated on February 11-12, 1949 in the new campus. hence, in the morning of February 11, an open vehicle proudly displaying the UP OBLatION, (masterpiece by Guillermo tolentino, National artist for Sculpture 1973 and commissioned by fourth UP President rafael Palma), led a jubilant motorcade from the original Padre Faure Campus to the new Diliman Campus. Upon its arrival, the OBLatION was warmly applauded by a cheering crowd of welcomers. Continuing on the following day, which signified a new era in the life of the University, the celebration was highlighted by a forum reiterating UP’s commitment to a quality tertiary education principally for Filipinos.


Where was the temporary home of the (then) Conservatory of Music?

The former headquarters of the U.S. army Signal Corps at the far end of area 1 on the North side of Diliman was identified by Narita Manuel Gonzalez as the old site of the Conservatory of Music. She described it as a : “rambling building [with] bachelor quarters at one end, three cottages at the other end, and a dormitory for girls called Cecilia hall.”

In later years, after the Conservatory was moved to the newly-built administration Building, the “rambling building” became the family residences of UP professors and administrators. Dr. risa Lansang reyes, of UP NISMED, and daughter of Flora and jose a. Lansang who moved in with their family, remembers, as a very young girl, a “sprawling, cavernous wooden structure”, referred to as thE CONSEr. they lived in one ot the three cottages mentioned by Narita Gonzales, widow of the late NvM Gonzales, National artist for Literature whose family was one of the pioneer residents of area 1.


when the construction of the adminstration Building was completed in 1951, it accommodated the Conservatory of Music until the completion of the much-awaited ABELarDO HALLL.

In 1955, I was a proud freshman at the UP Conservatory of Music, then located at the second and third floors of the South wing of the UP administration building. Central to the second floor was the music administration and the director’s office. Departments. studios, and classes were placed in other rooms of the second and third floors. the cashier’s office was situated at the ground floor; the canteen at the basement. access to the UP administration offices in the North wing was provided by a curvilinear walkway as well as a spacious top level observation deck which additionally functioned as as a rehearsal hall for orchestra, chorus, and a recital hall. My two required undergraduate solo piano recitals were rendered in this “concert hall of the administration building”, the first one with my mentor, andrea Ofilada veneracion; the second, (after Prof. veneracion left for voice studies in the US), with Prof. rosario Lopez Garcia, one of the first graduates of the Conservatory. after graduation in 1960, I left UP Diliman to teach in Northern Cagayan valley and returned in 1967 to pursue graduate studies, this time, not anymore to the administration building but to the aBELarDO haLL. Notwithstanding my absence at the final transfer of the Conservatory to its permanent home, I was privileged to render my master’s piano recital in 1970 at the aBELarDO haLL aUDItOrIUM with Prof. regalado jose.


Below is a sketch of the proposed Conservatory of Music during the incumbency of President vicente Sinco.

the signatures of UP Presidents vicente Sinco and Carlos P. romulo. Director ramon tapales and University architect roberto a. Novenario are clearly visible in the blue prints of the abelardo hall plans, courtesy of University architect Dr. Gerardo rey a. Lico. I then came to understand that aBELarDO haLL meant the building encompassing the music library, minihall, center for musicology, museum, gamelan room, offices, studios, etc., as well as the concert hall known as aBELarDO aUDItOrIUM or aBELarDO haLL aUDItOrIUM (aha). to refer only to the concert hall, the term aBELarDO aUDItOrIUM or aBELarDO haLL aUDItOrIUM (aha) is more accurate.

finaLe - fORMaL inaUgURatiOn

the annual observance of the Conservatory’s founding (September 4, 1916) has generated a tradition of month-long celebrations consisting of concerts, symposia, seminars, and student- initiated activites that have been documented through the years. the auspicious anticipation of the 47th founding anniversary month in September 1963 is evident in the following: the soloists, both distinguished alumni at that time continued to actively reap artistic achievements and awards in the ensuing years. the informative program notes were written by Dr. Corazon Canave Dioquino.