How the Manila Symphony Orchestra made ‘Call Me By Your Name’ more alive

How the Manila Symphony Orchestra made ‘Call Me By Your Name’ more alive

On the 28th day of October, history was made. Those who were at the Samsung Hall at SM Aura bore witness to the first-ever film-music concert in the country during the world premiere of the Academy Award-winning film Call Me By Your Name.

To say that the experience was different from the usual is an understatement. After all, CC: Concepts did not just fuse two different art forms, but brought two different worlds together in one night. The casual leisure of going to the movies and the sheer refinement of watching the orchestra were like an unusual wine pairing: unexpectedly good and quite exciting.

But the excitement was not just the audience’s, but also the musicians’. The Manila Symphony Orchestra is so in love and with passion for music, that they were more than willing to explore ways on how they can “expand audiences and genres.”

“As musicians, we’re really good followers with whatever project that we have, but the enthusiasm is there,” shared June Ong, on viola. “When they told us about this project, that it’s going to be a live movie with orchestra, we found it very exciting.”

The enthusiasm is indeed evident with them pushing out their #MusicEverywhere movement since 2015, their Rockestra 2018 project with Noli Aurillo and Silent Sanctuary and their latest concert, Soundtracks and Symphonies.

“But this is our first whole movie,” Ong further explained.

“It’s actually very exciting because it’s really the first time that we’re doing this,” said Alfonso Encina, on violin. “The hard part here is keeping in time with the film. Because it’s very different from following [with], for example, an opera, or a Broadway [play] or a ballet. It’s really strict. You can’t change it.”

Despite the difficulties, though, the choice of movie complemented the very core of film-and-live-music idea. Aside from it providing the freshness only a coming-of-age film can, Call Me By Your Name also presented a multi-genre soundtrack from Sufjan Stevens, The Psychedelic Furs, Franco Battiato, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and even Johann Sebastian Bach. This gave MSO the perfect opportunity not just to enhance the audience’s viewing experience, but also to bring to highlight the protagonist Elio’s musical prowess by bringing to life every string, key and beat that there was.

“[Call Me By Your Name] sends a very powerful message [about] the issues that surround our society right now.” Encina declared. “This movie is very powerful.”

“It’s in our time. It also is very relatable, not just to the LGBT community, but to other people,” added Ong. “You know that type of love [from the movie] — everyone, I’m pretty sure, relates to it. It’s amazing.”

On its own, the film indeed was powerful in itself. However, it is the equally powerful performance of the Manila Symphony Orchestra that resulted in producing a perfectly imperfect version of the picture, perhaps daring us to desire more film-music concerts in the future.

The thing is, they are successful.


Call Me By Your Name In Concert was a production by CC Concepts.