National Artist for Music (2014)
(February 19, 1941 – September 19, 2014)
Francisco Feliciano’s corpus of creative work attests to the exceptional talent of the Filipino as an artist. His lifetime conscientiousness in bringing out the “Asianness” in his music, whether as a composer, conductor, or educator, contributed to bringing the awareness of people all over the world to view the Asian culture as a rich source of inspiration and a celebration of our ethnicity, particularly the Philippines. He brought out the unique sounds of our indigenous music in compositions that have high technical demands equal to the compositions of masters in the western world. By his numerous creative outputs, he elevated the Filipino artistry into one that is highly esteemed by people all over the world.
Many of his choral compositions have been performed by the best choirs in the country, such as the world-renowned Philippines Madrigal Singers, UST Singers, and the Novo Concertante Manila, and have won for them numerous awards in international choral competitions. The technical requirement of his choral pieces is almost at the tip of the scale that many who listen to their rendition are awed, especially because he incorporates the many subtleties of rhythmic vitality and intricate interweaving of lines inspired from the songs of our indigenous tribes. He not only borrows these musical lines, albeit he quotes them and transforms them into completely energetic fusions of sound and culture that does nothing less than celebrate our various ethnicities.
His operas and orchestral works also showcase the masterful treatment of a musical language that is unique and carries with it a contemporary style that allows for the use of modal scales, Feliciano’s preferred tonality. The influence of bringing out the indigenous culture, particularly in sound, is strongly evident in La Loba Negra, Ashen Wings, and Yerma. In his modest hymns, Feliciano was able to bring out the Filipino mysticism in the simple harmonies that are able to captivate and charm his audiences. It is his matchless genius in choosing to state his ideas in their simplest state but producing a haunting and long-lasting impact on the listening soul that makes his music extraordinarily sublime.
Major Works: Ashen Wings (1995), Sikhay sa Kabila ng Paalam (1993), La Loba Negra (1983), Yerma (1982), Pamugun (1995), Pokpok Alimako (1981)