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Pinoy Musicians: Ryan Cayabyab
Posted by Carrie B. Yan on 05/02/2011 03:46 PM

One cannot help but be absorbed by the timeless music of this man. Like an appassionato, an impassioned sonata, the melodies he creates mirror the deepest sentiments and reverberate through our memories long after the singers that sung them have ebbed from the musical scene.

The music maestro Raymundo Capriano Pujante Cayabyab was born on May 4, 1954. He is a soprano solo performer and an instructor in the UP College of Music.

He is currently the executive and artistic director of the San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. A true advocate of original Filipino music, he continues to lead the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra in preserving and promoting "Kosher Filipino music." The orchestra's album, Great Filipino Love Songs, elbowed foreign favorites out of the chart for 16 weeks, an undisputable feat in local recording history.

At the early age of three, he learned his first music lessons from his mother, a musician and music teacher. He had a very humble beginning. His mother died when he was only six and his father struggled to support him and his three other siblings. Mr. C recounts that they used to eat fried unripe papayas dipped in sugar or bagoong for viand. There were times he couldn't borrow money from his aunts to buy textbooks for school. His mother's dying wish was that none of the children would pursue music as a means of livelihood; she knew how hard it was to live on a musician's meager earnings.

So Ryan started as a Commerce student at the University of the Philippines, but he left school to augment his income and worked as an accompanist for the Development Bank of the Philippines or DBP Chorale which was a special project of his uncle, an official of the said government agency. Still, Ryan was able to finish his studies in 1983 with a Bachelor of Music Major in Composition degree from the UP College of Music.

He did musical scores and directions for a number of established pop groups and solo performers from 1971 to 1978.

Celeste Legaspi, Kuh Ledesma, Basil Valdez and Pilita Corrales were the first big stars that he directed. Because of Ryan's tremendous passion for his craft, he was able to do musical scorings at famous venues like the Carnegie Hall and Main Hall in New York, the Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center, New York, Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Shrine, Los Angeles, and the Circus Maximus of Ceasars Palace, Las Vegas.

He has also set up the Ryan Cayabyab Music Studio in Makati and Quezon City as a means to alternative music education. He founded and managed groups like Smokey Mountain and 14K, which produced young people with tremendous talents like Geneva Cruz and Jeffery Hidalgo.

As a requirement for his graduation, he presented his composition "Misa," premiered by the UP Concert Chorus at the UP Abelerdo Hall in 1983. At about the same time, he introduced his rearrangement of Nicanor Abelardo's Kundiman "Mutya ng Pasig" at a concert by Kuh Ledesma, followed by the recordings of Celeste Legaspi of several kundimans arranged in a similar manner.

In 1979, he was chosen to be the musical director of the show "Manila, Manila: As Time Goes By" for the grand re-opening of the Manila Hotel. He also wrote the score of the hit musical "Katy!" (1988), with libretto by Jose Javier Reyes, and "El Filibusterismo" (1991), with libretto by young writer Paul Dumol and Jovy Miroy. He also wrote music for ballets like "Rama, Hari" (1980), with libretto by Bienvenido Lumbera and choreography by Alice Reyes; "Kapinangan" (1981), with choreography by Eddie Elejar; and "Misa Filipina" (1987).

Among his award-winning scores for the movies are "Karnal" (1983), Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences or FAMAS and Gawad Urian; "Misis Mo, Misis Ko" (1988), Urian; the Dawn Zulueta - Richard Gomez blockbuster hit "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit" (1991), FAMAS; and "Ikaw Pa Lang Ang Minahal" (1992), Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) and Star Awards.

Other film credits as musical scorer include "Ophelia at Paris" (1973), "Magandang Gabi sa Inyong Lahat" (1975), "Paraisong Parisukat," the theme song of which won the FAMAS in 1977, "Agila" (1980) and "Kailangan Kita" and "Saan Ka Man Naroroon" (1993).

He is recognized by many sectors for his ability to bridge the gap between Filipino pop and classical music. Among the citation and awards he has received are the Catholic Mass Media Awards for 1988, 1989 and 1990; Gawad CCP Para sa Telebisyon for his TV show "Ryan, Ryan Musikahan" in 1987 and 1992; and a special citation from the same award giving body for his significant contribution to Philippine music.

In 1978, his "Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika," interpreted by Hajji Alejandro, won the grand prize in the first Metro Manila Popular Music Festival or Metropop as well as in the Seoul International Song Festival in Korea.

He received the Awit Awards for Best Composer, Best Record Producer and Best Arranger in 1990. In 1991, his song "Mama" interpreted by Geneva Cruz got the Best Song Award in the Kajijstan Song of Asia Festival held in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, while his "Bagong Tunog," a jingle for a soft drink commercial, received a bronze medal for Best Jingle in the New York Film and TV Festival and the jingle of the year award at the 1991 Philippine Advertising Congress. In 1992, he won the grand prize for "Paraiso," interpreted by the Smokey Mountain group at the Tokyo Pop Music Festival. Cayabyab also received the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award in 1978.

With more than three hundred original compositions, his works launched the careers of countless OPM artists and shaped the Pinoy music scene and still continues to influence others. He is an arranger, composer, conductor, director, producer and professor. From opera musicales, movie themes, jingles for product commercials, to even liturgical symphonies and national or corporate commissions, there seems no area in the local music scene that has escaped Mr. C's touch.

Most importantly, he is an artist who uplifted Filipino music through countless contributions, which include original and award-winning compositions, movie score awards, best theme song prizes, international grand prix awards, among a long list of recognitions. For all of this he was recently awarded the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining 2004 for Music.

TAGS: pinoy musicians, music, entertainment, ryan cayabyab, composer

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