In Night of Many Firsts, Mid-Year ASOP Music Festival of 2013 Makes History

Walang Hanggang Kitang Sasambahin (Forever, I Will Worship You) was not only chosen as the Song of the Mid-Year 2013 in the recent ASOP Festival, but also one that Bro. Daniel Razon will record in the coming months.
The Song of the Mid-Year in the recent ASOP Festival, Walang Hanggang Kitang Sasambahin (Forever, I Will Worship You) will be recorded by Bro. Daniel Razon in the coming months, a first in the Music Festival’s history.

The songwriting music festival of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) for the mid-year of 2013 became a venue of well-received firsts and great praise music for the glory of God on the eve of July 8, 2013 in Apalit, Pampanga.

With “Walang Hanggan Kitang Sasambahin” bagging the Grand Prize, together with the other three top prizes of the 2013 Mid-Year A Song of Praise Music Festival, Asia-Oceania’s record-breaking streak was the first time for one region in ASOP’s timeline to sweep all major prizes.

For Sis Sally Morgan, a prize better than the cash reward and the trophy came the moment her grand prize-winning song was sung by Bro. Daniel Razon together with its interpreter during the finals, Sis May Checa. It was another first that an ASOP-winning song was performed by the Vice-Presiding Minister to MCGI.

Bro. Eli requested Bro. Daniel to assist in re-arranging the prize-winning piece to achieve better musicality and lyrics quality.

Other winners from the same region include Sis. Anamarie Natividad’s 1st runner-up placer, “Your Servant’s Prayer” that was interpreted by Sis Marianne Liwanag; and Bro. Jun Sarmiento’s 2nd runner-up placer, “Alipin Mong Walang Kabuluhan” that was interpreted by Sis. Aileen De Matos. Bro. Antonio Gan’s “Lahat ng Dahilan”, interpreted by Bro. Jonathan Dumanais won the 3rd Runner-up award.

The musical competition has MCGI leaders, Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon as regular judges. Criteria for judging the song finalists are musical content, lyrics, and over-all impact.

The next edition of ASOP in December will have a screening panel, which for the first time will subject finalist compositions to undergo massive and thorough evaluation and improvement to meet quality song standards. The aim is to make sure that musicians and lyricists get all the aid necessary to create well-crafted songs of praise.

“Dapat may panel na nag-screen ng kanta at nag-iimprove ng mga kanta.” (There must be a panel who would screen the songs and make improvements on the songs.) This, the televangelist said, should be convened immediately so there would be lesser edits during the finals night.

Throughout the competition, Bro. Eli made on-the-spot editing of the song lyrics after the performance of the entry. The MCGI Leader then called on the need for a screening panel.

Bro. Daniel, a songwriter himself, emphasized the importance of the “right marriage of a song.” Also known as Kuya Daniel for his broadcasting stints, he also furthered that the melody should fit the lyrics, and that the “musicality should be polished.”

Out of the fifteen mid-year finalists for 2013, participants from the Asia-Oceania, Europe-Israel-Africa and South America divisions composed nine entries. The remaining entries came from the Philippines’ Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR regions.

Mindanao Region’s entry entitled “We’ll be Home” was given a Special Award while the night’s Best Interpreters were Singapore’s Sis Marianne Liwanag for the song “Your Servant’s Prayer” and Pampanga’s Sis. Dalisay Painaga for the song “Ikaw ang Tangi Kong Buhay”.

The 2013 Mid-Year A Song of Praise Musical Festival was held immediately following the Church’s International Thanksgiving to God celebration on July 5 to 7 this year.

(Written by Rona Valdez)

(Photo by Rovic Balunsay)

Central Division Picks “Great Calling” as Mid-Year ASOP 2013 Entry

In the first finals of the bi-annual ASOP Music Festival of MCGI, an interpreter from Laguna Province belts the high parts a song entry during the  ASOP Mid-Year Finals in 2010.
An interpreter from Laguna Province belting the high parts a song entry during the ASOP Mid-Year Finals in 2010.

Pampanga, Philippines – The song entry about one person’s search for answers then finds meaning in life after heeding God’s call and fulfilling the purpose of his creation has earned a ticket to be in the A Song of Praise (ASOP) Luzon Region Finals come June 9, 2013.

“Dakilang Pagtawag” (Great Calling), composed by Bro. Rafael Deyto was picked from a total of nine entries from the Central Division Elimination last May 21, 2013. All entries were in Filipino.

Chairing the judgment board was Ministry Helper Bro. Ric Erese, who remarked that “writing songs of praise is difficult,” having tried making one himself.

ASOP Central Division Committee patterned the program after the Luzon Region Finals. The committee aims to have a more solid team of composers and interpreters who altogether will work for the best songs of praise to achieve the intent of ASOP Music Festival creators: Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon.

“To God be all the glory,” exclaimed Bro. Deyto before performing the song. He has also previously won in the weekly finals of ASOP on UNTV in 2012.

The ASOP Division Finals took place at the ADD Convention Center Lobby in Apalit, coinciding with the second day of the annual Bulacan Youth Convention.

ASOP Year-End Finals 2012: Much Better Than Last – Bro. Eli

Capping 2012 with new songs of praise, the “A Song of Praise Year-End Finals” on December 25 last year yielded better entries than the Mid-Year ASOP Festival in July of 2012.

Bro. Eli Soriano, who judged the bi-annual event of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), together with Bro. Daniel Razon, said that though the entries in this ASOP Finals fared much better than the last festival, they have not yet reached the standards of ‘the perfect songs for a perfect God.’

The Presiding Minister to the MCGI also commended the program and presentation of songs. The songwriting competition was held at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano congratulating ASOP Year-End 2012 winners in Pampanga, Philippines.
Bro. Eli Soriano congratulating the winners of the A Song of Praise Music Festival 2012 Year-End Finals.

Critiquing Choruses Critical to Songs’ Success

ASOP’s much awaited segment was the part when MCGI Leaders gave comments after each song was presented. “Wordy” became the word of the night as Bro. Daniel critiqued the ‘compacted’ structure of the choruses’ lines. He stressed the importance of writing a chorus, that it should contain a song’s most crucial musical lines.

What also makes this songwriting festival unique is that comments are accompanied by suggestions on how the lyrics can still be improved. As in most of this edition’s entries, it was their choruses’ lyrics that Bro. Eli made minor changes to, with the composer’s indulgence.

Other pieces of musical advice the Vice-Presiding Minister to the MCGI gave included proper choice of words, intended audience, and music length. He has composed several songs in the past; some of which have been rendered by popular Filipino artists like Jed Madela and Richard Reynoso.

Also a songwriter himself, Bro. Daniel shared his songwriting technique where he starts with a song’s chorus first, making it easier to develop the other parts. He noted however that the ‘build-up to the chorus’ is highly important as well.

Singer-songwriter Bro. Daniel Razon giving tips on making heavenly praise music.
Composers and lyricists also hear comments to their song from singer-songwriter Bro. Daniel Razon.

For his part, Bro. Eli did ‘live editing’ of the choruses. Since most of the songs had lyric-length issues, he would request interpreters to repeat the chorus applying his suggestions.

Bro. Eli voicing his thoughts on how to properly end a chorus melodically speaking. In the end, the MCGI Leaders added another line to the song entry’s chorus completing it.

The Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) host even wished that he had time to talk with the composers and see their work before the event. However, his regular Bible Expositions in different languages and time zones and other responsibilities make him unavailable for the endeavor.

After some words were omitted and a few notes changed, the songs’ choruses ended up with an easier singing and listening experience. The crowd gathered at the Convention applauded as they heard the song’s improvement outright.

Winning Pieces

Two songs were awarded Song of the Year-End with a score of 94.7%. Sharing the title were Ang Una Kong Pag-ibig (My First Love) from South Korea and Walang Kasing Tamis (Nothing Sweeter) from the National Capital Region.

Bro. Eli also expressed his appreciation of all the singers’ interpretation of the songs. He remarked however that ASOP is not about the way the songs of praise were sung, but how they were crafted.

For Bro. Eliseo Soriano a song of praise must pass biblical standards.
Apart from musical standards, the song’s lyrics must be biblically sound according to Bro. Eli.

He said that he and Bro. Daniel are “focused on a song’s lyrics,” on its being biblical, and on the “faith of the brother that is in the song.”

The MCGI Leaders hope that members will continue to improve their songwriting for “the Greatest Person in the universe.”

For the complete list of winners, please see here.

(Written by: Rigor Arellano)

 (Photography by: Rovic Balunsay, Photoville International)