Friday, October 9, 2009

The Rondalla Equation

One guitar + one mandolin = one bandurria. That is the rondalla equation. At least it is if you are counting strings. The bandurria has 14 strings and is the instrument that perhaps most defines the Philippine instrumental ensemble known as a rondalla. Two other instruments in the rondalla have fourteen strings - the laud and the octavina. All three are played with turtle shell picks. Add a guitar and a contrabass and you have the makings of a rondalla. While usually encountered playing traditional Filipino music, almost every imaginable piece, including today's video of Libertango, has been covered by a rondalla somewhere.

The rondalla in today's video is the Philippine Chamber Rondalla of NJ. The arrangement of Libertango is usual and quite entertaining as one might expect upon learning that the arrangement was done by one of the most famous contemporary composers from the Phillipines, Bayani de Leon. The leader of the New Jersey rondalla is Maria Leonor Llorin Paliguin - one of the most important rondalla figure in the United States. Ms. Plaiguin also conducts the University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla (UPAFR) which has spread the sound of the rondalla across the world from Portugal to Cuba to the halls of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In a little more than a week (October 17), UPAFR will appear in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center in NYC. I think it is safe to assume that many of the musicians in the New Jersey Rondalla are also members of UPAFR.

If you enjoy the sound of the rondalla, you can find more on YouTube including this performance of the traditional Silayan by the UPAFR or buy their CD.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.


  1. Thank you for sharing the video of our performance of 'Libertango' on your blog and

    thereby potentially increasing interest in our little group, the Philippine chamber

    Rondalla of New Jersey.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you would correct some errors in your write-up about our

    group. Leonor Paliguin is our rondalla performance coach. But our President is Clarita

    V. Ramos. Albeit Ms. Ramos built up and shepherded UPAF Rondalla for over a decade,

    during which time it was awarded a grant seven times by the New Jersey State Council of

    the Arts and its affiliates and participated at the world Expo in Portugal and performed a

    number of times at the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, Ms Ramos is no longer

    affiliated with UPAF Rondalla. I and other core members of PCR-NJ are also no longer

    affiliated with UPAF Rondalla. I invite you to visit to find out more about PCR-NJ.

    Again, thank you, for spotlighting our interpretation of 'Libertango.'

    F Yalong
    Secretary, PCR-NJ

  2. Just to validate what Ms. Yalong wrote above---Yes,the core of our Philippine Chamber Rondalla of NJ used to be part of UPAFR. We helped steer that group to great heights and places within the U.S. and abroad during my 10-year term as president of that ensemble.
    The Phil. Chamber Rondalla of NJ appreciates your highlighting our performance of Libertango, quite a challenging piece for rondalla players.
    Thank you.
    Clarita V. Ramos
    President, PCR-NJ