Fantastic news!

I am in seventh heaven right now. And it’s all fun and amazing up here! LOL. Just kidding.

Today, I’ve received one of the best news of the year. And that is the release date of the long-awaited and highly anticipated Hillsong Worship album, which we’ve learned today has the title, “OPEN HEAVEN / River Wild.”

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On their Facebook page, Hillsong Worship dropped the news that reads:

We’re excited to announce the upcoming release of our new album ‘Open Heaven / River Wild’ recorded live at #‎HillsongConf in Sydney! Available worldwide on 16th October! We pray this album will reach and impact the lives of many as they worship under an #‎OpenHeaven!

I mean, I know there’s still less than 2 months to wait. But it excites me so much to have Hillsong’s new music finally accessible any time of the day. We’ve had a good taste of it during conference. Also, the worship team has slowly introduced some of the new tunes during church services.

Can I just say that this new pool of songs is just simply irresistible (?). It makes you crave worship so much more. It makes your access to heaven and to God’s throne so much more dynamic and inexorable. The heartfelt and rhapsodic songs seem to make God’s Spirit and presence so much more palpable. In other words, it makes people worship and frolic in God’s love and presence in a powerful and extraordinary way.

The album is actually available for pre-order on their website. The track listing is already released as well.

One of the songs I’m very excited about is the one that goes “Holy is the Lord revealed before my eyes and my burning heart can scarcely take it in…“, which I believe is entitled “Transfiguration” (I’m still not so sure. I could be wrong).

Then there’s “Oh, what grace I’ve found in You, my Jesus, that my soul should entertain Your greatness…“, which I believe is called “What A Saviour.”

I am just incredibly happy because Hillsong Worship has done it again. Props to the brilliant team of God-inspired, Spirit-filled creatives! I mean, I thought it would be very hard top their previous album, “No Other Name.” But then I’ve realised, it’s not about which has better songs, and/or production and marketing components. It’s about the experience–both the musical and the spiritual aspects of it. If it’s music that speaks to the soul, and opens up the heart, mind, and soul to God’s voice and to His Word, then that’s IT. This album’s got IT.

So I’m looking forward to the release of this album, and to the fresh experience that it has to offer. And perhaps, the new revelations God has in store for His people, that I pray will be delivered strongly thru music. To God be the glory!

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R.

#SalongaDownUnder2015


All right.
 I know. I get it. It might be a little too late to be posting about this momentous event. The past couple of weeks have been really busy and demanding on my end. But I thought I’d do it anyway. No dramas.

So, Lea Salonga was in Sydney. (Now I’m thinking I should’ve ended that with an exclamation point). I find it hard to put into words how amazing this encounter was with the ineffable international Broadway star.

I mean, she’s world-renowned and all that. Everybody knows her, and only has the best things to say about her. But seriously, it feels like the right words have not been invented yet to adequately and justifiably describe her artistry and musicality. And I’m not exaggerating.

Hence, I can already tell that this entry will not look like my usual concert “reflections” (not reviews) I normally post on the Artiste.

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Basically, it is one of my biggest dream come true. Her singing has always had an enormous impact on me, which up to this day I still struggle to explain.

Her formidable presence, overpowering charisma, and divine vocal prowess just got me. She has knocked me dead in all her glory. If one had ever experienced “eargasm” (or if that were possible in this life and time), I’d say that it’s similar to what I went through during her concert a couple of Saturday’s ago at Sydney Town Hall.

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I won’t go into detail anymore. But in essence, the place was packed. She had a live band (of course) headed by Larry Yurman—this guy’s incredible. I should also commend his band for doing a marvellous job (The double bass is the blue frosting on the cake for me!). Lea dubbed them as his “most handsome” musical crew in the progression of her tour.

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Lea had a very rich and generous repertoire that includes her gravity-defying renditions of:
  • Broadway stunners (“I’d Give My Life For You” from Miss Saigon, “Wondering” from The Bridges of Madison County, “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years, “For Good” from Wicked, “Back to Before” from RagtimeLes Miz hits, which are mentioned later in the blogpost)
  • Disney classics (“Reflection” from Mulan, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin)
  • Filipino hits (“Nais Ko” by Ryan Cayabyab, “Hahanapin Ko” by Jose Mari Chan)
  • Tasteful jazz tunes (they’re all mentioned later in the blogpost)
  • Historically significant piece, “Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston
  • Riveting renditions of Bruno Mars smashers (“Grenade” and “Locked Out of Heaven”)

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To some degree, it was a jazz-infused night. Lea started with an old Broadway hit that had also been popularised by Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”,  followed by another jazz hit, “You and the Night and the Music”. Lea also did a Nat King Cole classic, “On the Street Where You Live” to start Act 2. My favourite of them all was “He Touched Me”, which I believe is a Barbra Streisand original. That one was just intoxicating.

Now, I am in awe of Lea’s ability to turn a typical jazz song into something extraspecial. Her musical theatre sound and stylistic expression (dynamics, articulation, etc) blend so well with the rudiments of the jazz ensemble, not to mention the proper dose of theatricality. Thus, a colourful and flavourful emulsion of styles and sounds.

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The highlights of the night was when she sang two of her Les Miz pieces (yes, she owns them), “On My Own” and “I Dreamed A Dream” by which she gained a thundering ovation from the audience. The characters that convey the two songs (Éponine and Fantine) were relived during that night. It was crazy.

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Went with my awesome friend, Gerielle. Photo by Darryl O'Brien

Went with my awesome friend, Gerielle. Photo by Darryl O’Brien

I did say I wouldn’t go into so much detail, but what the heck. It was hard to keep in line. But here’s a mini gallery of my shots. It sucks that camera flash was not allowed in the concert, and my camera takes better shots in that particular setting when the flash is activated. I tried my best to still get good ones.

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I’ll conclude by reposting my actual Facebook status on the night of the concert which I posted during the interlude:

Lea Salonga. I can’t even. I just. She’s a freaking. Monster. A beautiful. Monster.

R.