MSO Sweet Symphonies: Manila Symphony Orchestra in Iloilo City! (Photo Essay)


The Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is a 55-piece world-class ensemble founded in 1926. It is regarded as Asia’s first symphony orchestra.

Ilonggos were in for a treat when MSO played their hearts out in two of the most iconic places in Iloilo as part of the 80th Iloilo City Charter Day celebration.


The two-night spectacle was under the baton of master conductor Professor Arturo Molina. On August 25 and 26, the Manila Symphony Orchestra wooed music lovers with “Sweet Symphonies: Bach vs. Beatles” and “Soundtracks and Symphonies” at the iconic Molo Church and the Iloilo Convention Center, respectively.

Here’s what happened during the grand two-day celebration… 


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MSO Sweet Symphonies: Manila Symphony Orchestra in Iloilo City! (Photo Essay)

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St. Anne Parish Church–more commonly known as Molo Church–was the perfect backdrop for MSO’s first ever concert in Iloilo. It is one of the greatest and oldest landmarks in the city and is a rare medieval-style Philippine Gothic Church. 

Molo Church is also called “Women’s Church” because it houses 16 statues of female saints. 



“Music brings refinement to the soul,” according to Senator Drilon. He spoke grandly of Iloilo’s love for culture and the arts. 



Leading this exciting experience was none other than Maestro Arturo Molina, whose pedigree in Philippine music is unquestionable. It was in 2001 when he was entrusted with the leadership and future of the prestigious symphony. He has since been leading the ensemble towards new heights.

Maestro Molina’s presence and style could be described as fluid, elegant, and graceful.



The night started off with the Molo Church Choir singing the opening prayer, accompanied by the beautiful harmony of MSO.

Afterwards, we were treated to a carefully curated selection of Bach and Beatles classics. 



They played a wide array of both artists’ popular music, but my personal favorites would have to be their rendition of “Here Comes The Sun,” “Yesterday,” and “Hey Jude”. The crowd actually sang along to “Hey Jude,” which made the experience all the more memorable. I’m not much of a classical music fan, but their version of Bach’s “Ave Maria” was light and beautiful.

The solo performances were also of note. I especially liked the flute solo featuring Professor Francisco Candelaria, which MSO helped elevate as they played Bach’s Minuet and Badinerie.



The church was jam-packed with natives and tourists alike, who both enjoyed the music. I knew that the crowd was just as in awe as I was. The audience was diverse, but you could tell by their humming and singing that everyone was enjoying.



The 2-hour concert ended with a sweet medley of Beatles songs, including “Get Back” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.” However, the cherry on top was the encore performance.

MSO gave audiences a hint of what was to come by wowing the crowd with a rendition of the magical soundtrack of the popular series books and movies, Harry Potter. 



By bringing MSO to Iloilo, Senator Drilon hopes to further the development of culture and the arts in their native city.



Day 2 of the MSO concert was more laid back and casual. It was held at ICON or the Iloilo Convention Center, which was recently built and famed as one of the top convention and exhibition destinations in the country.

The crowd had a great time listening to soundtracks from popular movies dating back to the 70’s. We were all in for a treat as they opened their set with John Williams’ soundtrack highlights, exciting the crowd with “The Raiders March” from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

My personal favorites from this night would have to be the Star Wars and Superman soundtracks. It was also a pleasant surprise when they began to play the Game of Thrones theme because it wasn’t in their arranged set list. You could tell that they really wanted to please the crowd. It was great that they included songs that the younger generation could easily recognize.

After much urging from the audience, MSO ended the night with an encore performance of a beautiful folk song medley, which everyone sang along to.



In the end, both concerts were thoroughly enjoyable. Even if you didn’t have a clue about classical music, it would have still been easy to appreciate their performance.

It was encouraging to see firsthand how MSO aims to be a vital contributor to the appreciation and enjoyment of music by people from all walks of life. Their passion, enthusiasm, and ability to adapt to the times will no doubt ensure that they will continue to do so. Through performances such as these, I’m hopeful that MSO will inspire more awesome, local talent and spark their interest in culture and the performing arts. 


Live an Awesome Life,



Disclosure: Our Iloilo trip was courtesy of Manila Symphony Orchestra. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. 

P.S. Catch more of Manila Symphony Orchestra as they perform in their newly opened home at Circuit Makati with the opening of the MSO Recital Hall. 

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