Q&A: Two members share what it means to be part of the Mandaue Children’s Choir
WHEN the Mandaue Children’s Choir performed in the prestigious 36th International Children’s Choir in Halle, Germany last May, they left the audience, judges and fellow competitors in awe. And while it’s been a few months since they brought home the top prize, the children behind the angelic voices are still brimming with joy.
Their international success — something that will echo in the years to come — didn’t happen overnight, however. Conducted by the choirmaster Dennis Sugarol, the Mandaue Children’s Choir have been sharing their talents to the public for 10 years now, gathering accolades along the way. Today, they are composed of 30 official members and eight trainees, most of whom are new at competing.
Sun.Star Weekend’s Deneb Batucan sat with two choir members, Raya Paguio and Cher Lozada, both 11 years old, as they shared their highs and lows on being part of the Mandaue Children’s Choir.
When did you join the choir?
Cher Lozada: Since I was seven years old.
Raya Paguio: Just recently, in February.
What’s the most unforgettable thing about the competition?
Cher: When we found out we won. We were tied with the Ukrainian choir. We felt really happy because after months of hardcore training, we won.
Raya: Everybody underestimated us because we were only 23 members and the other choirs were 40 to 60. They were really shocked. When they saw us perform, they just kept clapping. Our conductor, Sir Dennis, cried during our performance.
What’s the most fun thing about being in a choir?
Cher: We have fun times together. We bond with each other.
Raya: We share one interest, which is singing, and that’s what makes us bond with each other.
Do you experience difficulties during practice?
Raya: It really takes a lot of hard work, but in the end, we do get to do it right. But if you really put your mind to it, you can reach the expectations of everybody.
Cher: Sometimes we forget what to do because we feel nervous that our voices will crack. But if you practice often, you will understand everything and do great.
How did you feel when you heard that you got the top prize in Germany?
Raya: I almost cried. I didn’t expect to win since it was my first time to compete. So I was shocked.
Cher: When they announced it, it was in German and we were like, “Why did they call our name?” After that, I went to my mom and I was crying. Tears of joy.
What do you love about being part of MCC?
Raya: The fact of being here. The moment you walk in, and you’re a new member, it’s kind of intimidating seeing all those trophies. But once you get in, they’re so nice to you. But they really make you practice hard no matter what age you are. But all of the other members, if you’re having a difficult time, they’re going to help you. That’s what I like about MCC – the teamwork. I really admire that trait of MCC. I’ve never seen any other choir that’s as helpful and hardworking.
Cher: What’s interesting is that Sir Dennis teaches us to be independent and hardworking and just to be ready for anything that lies ahead.
What did you learn so far as a member of MCC?
Raya: I learned that you can’t really get anywhere in life if you don’t work hard. If you can see what we’ve accomplished, we’ve accomplished a lot. That’s because of the many days of hard work we have put into our music. Sometimes it’s really tough, but we get through it in the end. You feel really accomplished that you can share your talent to other people through the tours and competitions.
Cher: At first, when I just started, I thought it was just going to be easy. Just singing and having fun. After a few years, I learned more. It’s not that easy to learn a lot of stuff in one practice. Since Sir Dennis pushes us hard, it teaches us to work hard, not just in choir singing but in life. We also get to learn how to manage our time.
What can you say to other children who want to join MCC?
Raya: If you want to join, try your best. This is not just an activity, but also a learning experience – both mentally and spiritually.
Cher: Don’t expect that it would be very easy at first. Just keep on practicing with us and eventually everything will be great.