Three young Filipino Latter-day Saints will be participating in the Youth Music Festival organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the youth of the Church. Loredel Ducena, Ralph Mallapre and Brio Divinagracia will give a special rendition of one of the 2021 Youth Album songs in a special music video to be shown during the event.
The music video will feature the trio singing in more than one Philippine language and in English, representing the country in the global virtual concert, catered specifically to the youth of the Church. The event will bring together youth from all over the world with the unifying and inspiring power of music in different languages.
Different backgrounds, different voices
Just as the event will feature performing artists from around the world, Loredel, Ralph, and Brio came together from different backgrounds in the Church in the Philippines but quickly found that despite their differences, music served as a bridge to create a truly special and uniquely Filipino interpretation of their song.
Despite their differences, the three were able to overcome the initial feeling of being overwhelmed as they worked together on the project and shared their love of music with each other. Each of the three participants was enthusiastic enough to share what music meant to them and what role music in the Church had to play in their lives.
From Fairview Stake, Loredel has always loved singing and has been singing since she was 3-years-old. Although nothing would come out of her love for singing for some time, when she and her family were later baptized, the Church would provide her a place to foster her talent and love for singing, as she started to perform for Ward and Stake events. These engagements gave her the skills and the confidence that she would need to sing in front of an audience.
Eventually, she would use her newfound confidence and her skills to start performing in gigs as a part-time job to earn some money. Ironically, it was because of this opportunity as a band singer that she had gotten through her newfound confidence and skill that she had so much part-time work to the point where she was slowly falling into inactivity in the Church. She said, “I became really engrossed in my work as a band singer, and I forgot the importance of coming to Church every Sunday.”
It was also music, however, that brought her back into the Church. Recalling the story of a particular leader who urged her to sing at acoustic nights in the Manila Philippines Institute of Religion, she said, “I sang every acoustic night, and that helped me to get back on track in the Church. The more that I got involved with Institute and its activities, I was reminded very clearly why I need to go to Church every Sunday, why I need to renew my covenants, and why I need to stay active in the Church. It was the best feeling when I came back to the Church. All of the Church hymns started to take on a new meaning.”
For Ralph, who is born and raised in Cebu, his engagement in music also came early. He was encouraged by his grandmother to start singing at a young age and he was entered by his grandmother into singing competitions, and although he did not like it at first, he eventually came to love singing. When he was 16, he decided that he would join a singing competition by himself without his grandmother, and so, he decided to enter Sinulog Idol, a big local singing competition in Cebu during the Sinulog Festival, where he won second place. After this, he continued to take on singing engagements in his spare time.
As he spent more time in music and listening to music from the Church, he found that his true passion is in music. Speaking about the power music has had in his life, he said “Music really gives me inspiration every day to have a positive mind. When I listen to any good music, especially music from the Church, it gives me peace of mind.”
These experiences shaped his decision to take a vocal performance major at Brigham Young University – Hawai’i.
Brio from Quezon City grew up in a family of artists and as such, music has been around him for as long as he could remember. There was not one big moment where he realized that he loved music, only that he naturally grew to love music because of his exposure to the music all around him.
Since his childhood, he has played a variety of instruments and sung and started performing in ward activities. This would eventually make way for him to participate in previous musical engagements of the Church, and like Loredel, work part-time as a singer in restaurants and find gigs. Like Ralph, these experiences shaped his decision to take music production and then shift into theater arts for his college program.
He said about his personal experience with music, “Although music isn’t as important to everyone, it definitely gives and brings color and more life to our lives. It’s an art form, and when it’s used well, it can bring people up.”
Sparing no effort
Loredel shared that recording in a studio was a scary first for her and that it felt awkward. She said, “It was really overwhelming because it was my first time to record and it’s really awkward to hear my voice after singing and it’s also embarrassing since everyone can hear it, but that awkward feeling and that doubt disappeared when I heard all three of us singing together.”
Brio shared that because of their different musical backgrounds and styles, they were able to use those differences to experiment with their sounds to produce a different kind of sound and interpretation from the original songs. He said, “We tried at first to experiment to sing the song together to see what we could bring to it. We wanted to see what we could do differently to it so we sang it a number of times together and see what we could add to it individually – we brainstormed.”
Ralph was able to use his experience from BYUH to teach Loredel and Brio while they were in the recording studio, and was useful to the process of coming up with a different approach to the song.
The experience was not all smooth sailing, however, as Brio and Loredel share difficulties that arose due to the pandemic and its accompanying health and safety restrictions. They recalled that they were separated from each other in the recording sessions and that only one singer was allowed in the booth at a time. Because of this, the three could not sing together in the same space and instead had to synchronize and sing in unison using Zoom as a guide to match their timing.
Recounting this experience, Brio said, “It was all worthwhile because our safety was their priority, so I’m very grateful. It was an interesting experience for sure.”
The three poured spared no effort in making this music video, which will feature pictures and videos of youth from the Philippines in its visuals, truly special.
Loredel testified about music and its role in the work. She said, “I know that if we will continue to do our best every day and share our talents, our God-given talents we can be participants in this great work.”
“When I listen to the music of the Church and this new Youth Album, I see the way that the Lord has prepared for the youth not to let go of the Gospel and of His love,” Ralph said, testifying of the inspiration of the Church’s music and its efforts for the Youth. “Music is a powerful tool that can help us feel His love.”
Brio testified “I know that music is a beautiful thing. It can help us spiritually and be more appreciative and change us for better ways. I know that He loves us and knows us personally and intimately.”
Invitation to participate
The youth of the Church can join these three outstanding young members of the Church in the Youth Music Festival on YouTube and on the Church’s Facebook page on March 18, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. They are encouraged to invite their friends from other faiths to join in, as well.
Ralph, Brio, and Loredel all invite the youth to support them and watch the fruit of their efforts in the virtual concert.
“I would like to invite everyone to watch the Youth Music Festival, and I’m sure you will all enjoy the performances and we’re going to feel the spirit of the Lord while we watch it together!”
“Please look forward to what we have in store for you in the Youth Music Festival and we hope like what we have prepared for you!”
“The Church really did an amazing work for you to feel our Heavenly Father’s love!