PROF. ANDREA OFILADA VENERACION
Andrea O. Veneracion or Ma'am OA, as she is fondly called, is highly esteemed for her achievements as choirmaster and choral arranger. Two of her indispensable contributions in culture and the arts include the founding of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the spearheading of the development of Philippine choral music. A former faculty member of the UP College of Music and honorary chair of the Philippine Federation of Choral Music, she also organized a cultural outreach program to provide music education and exposure in several provinces. Born in Manila on July 11, 1928, she is recognized as an authority on choral music and performance and has served as adjudicator in international music competitions.
She was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and earned her Bachelor of Music degrees in Piano and Voice at the University of the Philippines Diliman graduating Cum Laude. She was a lyric soprano soloist in various Oratorio works and in the Opera Stage. She was also a very accomplished pianist and accompanist and was the accompanist of National Artist for Music, Jovita Fuentes for a number of years. Apart from being an extraordinary musician, she was also an exceptional athlete as a competitive swimmer. In fact, she was part of the Philippine Swimming team who first competed internationally in Hong Kong.
Later on, she continued to pursue her Master's Degree in Voice at Indiana University School of Music - Bloomington as a Fulbright scholar, where she encountered the Indiana University Madrigal Singers which rallied the music of the Renaissance period.
Upon her return to the Philippines in 1963, she established a singing group with the same idea. This group was initially exclusive of U.P. faculty members and students and became officially known as the University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers. She established a tradition for which the Madz, as they are fondly called, are known for: unlike most choirs, the Madz is seated in a semicircular formation without a conductor. The Choirmaster is at the left-most end of the circle who leads the group by giving their cues.
Under her direction, the Philippine Madrigal Singers won major awards in international choral competitions - Spittal, Austria; Arezzo and Gorizia, Italy; Neuchâtel, Switzerland; Debrecen, Hungary; Varna, Bulgaria; Tolosa and Cantonigros, Spain; and Marktoberdorf, Germany. In 1996, she led the Philippine Madrigal Singers to its victory in the 1996 International Choral Competition in Tolosa, Spain. This made them eligible to compete for the 1997 European Choral Grand Prix for Choral Singing and eventually won the title in Tours, France.
She is also the founder and first conductor of the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (AILM) Chorale.
In 1997, She was awarded the TOFIL (The Outstanding Filipino) Award for Culture and the Arts For her contributions to the development of choral singing in the Philippines.
Eventually in 1999, Ma'am OA was named National Artist for Music, the highest cultural award bestowed by the Philippine government for an individual.
In 2001, she retired as the Choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. She personally selected Mark Anthony Carpio, her Assistant Choirmaster at that time, to be her successor. The Madz turnover ceremonies were held in a special concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines coinciding with the launch of her biography "A Life Shaped By Music" by Marjorie Evasco.
She continued to guide the Madz under Carpio's direction by joining them in their tours: 2002 in North America, 2003 in Asia and 2004 in Europe. She was able to witness Carpio's first international competition as Choirmaster (and the Madz's first competition after 7 years) at the 2004 International Competition of Habaneras and Polyphony in Torrevieja, Spain, where the Madz won First Places for both categories and the last choir to have done so.