The University of the Philippines Madrigal Singers was organized in 1963 by National Artist Professor Andrea O. Veneracion. The group is composed of students, faculty and alumni from the different colleges of the University of the Philippines (UP). The choir is one of the world’s most awarded, having consistently won all the top prizes in most of the world’s prestigious choral competitions: Concorso Polifónico Guido d’Arezzo (Arezzo, Italy); Concorso e Festival Internazionale Di Canto Corale “Seghizzi” (Gorizia, Italy); International Chamber Choir Competition (Marktoberdorf, Germany); International Chorwettbewerb (Spittal, Austria); Festival Choral International de Neuchatel (Neuchatel, Switzerland); Florilège Vocal de Tours (Tours, France); International May Choir Competition Prof. G. Dimitrov (Varna, Bulgaria); Béla Bartók International Choir Competition (Debrecen, Hungary); Festival Internacional de Música de Cantonigròs (Cantonigros, Spain), Certamen Coral de Tolosa (Tolosa, Basque Country, Spain) and Certamen Internacional de Habaneras y Polifonia (Torrevieja, Spain). They hold the distinction of being the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing twice(1997 and 2007).
The ensemble performs a wide repertoire of various styles and forms: renaissance music, classical music, Filipino and international folksongs, contemporary and avant-garde music, opera and even popular music. Their specialization and focus on the madrigal idiom has inspired their unique set-up of singing while seated in a semi-circle, without a conductor.
The influence of the UP Madrigal Singers on the Philippine and Asian choral scene has also been far-reaching. Since 1963, more than 200 singers have joined the choir, many of whom are now choral and vocal pedagogues actively involved in organizing and conducting choirs. This eventually led to the organization of the Madz Et Al, a network of choirs who gather regularly for festivals and workshops. To date, the network has a membership of almost 60 choirs from all over the country. This contributes to the now very active choral life in the Philippines.
Through the direction of Mark Anthony Carpio, the corps of composers and choral arrangers of the UP Madrigal Singers continue to produce new compositions and choral settings of Philippine, Asian and international songs, thus contributing to the growth of world choral literature.
The UP Madrigal Singers also maintain an active outreach and concert tour schedule, performing in far-flung areas of the Philippines seldom reached by choral artists. With an average of two overseas concert tours a year, the UP Madrigal Singers is the country’s most active ambassadors of goodwill and perhaps, also one of the world’s most-traveled choirs.
The group was recognized in 2009 by the UNESCO as Artists for Peace for “putting fame and influence at the service of UNESCO’s ideals and efforts to promote cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace”. Then in 2010, the Concorso Polifonico Guido d’ Arezzo Foundation honored the group with the Guidoneum Award by for “their artistic and choral promotion activity”. In July 2012, the group became the first choir in the world to receive The BrandLaureate Premier Award from the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation, in recognition for its “significant contribution to the world of choral music, producing new compositions and choral settings for Philippine, Asian and International songs, spreading the beauty of this genre and giving a good musical experience to the audience.”
In 2013, the Philippine Madrigal Singers have been invited to perform during the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Convention in Dallas, Texas and during the America Cantat in Bogota, Columbia. All these coincide with the group’s celebration of its 50th year.