Abdul Candao – Pinoy Tenor

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Abdul with Filipino Friends

Abdul with Filipino Friends

Abdul Candao, a Pinoy professional tenor is making a name in the German-speaking countries of Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Abdul had played a couple of times already the leading star of Franz Lehar’s musical play “Land des Lächelns” (Land of Smiles), where he played Prince Sou-Chung, the son of an emperor from China. The musical play  had been staged in key cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland under the auspices of the Hanover Opera House, where Abdul is a resident artist. “I am very much honored to get this role since a number of European professional vocalists have auditioned for this. This proves that may ibubuga talaga ang mag Pinoy kahit saan sila ilagay. I am very proud for this,” said Abdul.

Beginnings Abdul is considered as the first Muslim tenor vocalist from Maguindanao. He comes from a prominent family in the region. The Candao’s are known in the province. Abdul’s father was the brother of Maguindanao former governor Zacaria Candao. His father was shot dead while driving his younger children to school. “My father had always been proud of me with my achievements at home but I know that he would be doubly proud to hear that I made it in the international scene,” Abdul commented. Before making a name here in Europe, Abdul already had a lot of musical and opera experiences in the Philippines. He was a member of “Kayumangging Kalikasan” under the late Prof. Ernani Cuenco. “The time under Prof. Ernani Cuenco gave me a lot of experiences and I was able to perform regularly on stage. I regard this period important for my training,” asserted Abdul.

A scholar of the UST Conservatory of Music where he was a scholar of Prof. Irma Potenciano, he graduated Bachelor of Music under the late Prof. Kathy Sternberg. He garnered another scholarship grant from the CCP Young Artist Fund. This took Abdul to the Opera School of the Vienna Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the school’s best instructors and masters. Before finishing his studies in Vienna, he already performed in different musical and opera shows. Two months after his graduation in 1995, he got a contract to be a part of the ensemble of a musical called Elisabeth. The play is an original Austrian musical named after Elisabeth, the empress of Austria. Abdul played the role of a Baron in this long-running musical. He also performed several leading roles in Bernstein’s Candide before signing up another contract as tenor of the opera house in Hanover, Germany.

Competition In spite of the big competition in Europe, especially when it comes to classical, musical, operetta performances, Abdul could still manage to sing and compete with other known vocalists in Europe. Abdul commented: “Europe is a big market. You must sell yourself as a finished product. In Europe is indeed the real world. There is so much competition here. Singers are everywhere and everybody would present themselves as a finished product. Kaya pakapalan na lang ng mukha. I have to present myself, too, at kaya ko naman. This is not Manila, where your relatives, if influential, can get a job for you. This would not work in Europe. You just cannot sit and wait to get discovered.” Now, Abdul is enjoying his dream role in the play “Land des Lächelns.”

Abdul and the Pinoy community in Austria Aside from his regular opera shows, Abdul still finds time to give concert for the Pinoy audience here. Last November 2007, he gave an all-Filipino classical concert where he sang original Pilipino Music and kundiman, too. There was a number of Pinoy classical enthusiasts in the audience, although Abdul expected more Filipinos. “Inasahan ko talagang maraming Filipinos na manood sa concert pero mas marami pa ang mga dayuhan. I did exactly the concert to encourage the Filipinos to come to classical concerts. Sayang at kaunti lamang ang dumalo. My only wish is that, Pinoys should learn to love their own music. Mahalin natin ang ating sariling musika at ipagmalaki natin ito,” said Abdul.

— hector pascua

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