In 1927, Dr. Manuel Casas of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) College of Medicine founded the UST Symphony Orchestra. Also serving as the conductor, he formed the group with university students. After four public performances from 1929 to 1931, the group apparently disbanded and was reorganized in 1961 by National Artist for Music Antonio Buenaventura. The orchestra subsequently embarked on a concert tour in nearby provinces aside from performing within the metropolis.
The orchestra presently consists of 70 student-members with 15 UST faculty and staff. Many of the student-members are former winners of national music competitions. Others have qualified for scholarships abroad or participated in summer camps like those held in the ASEAN countries in Australia. Some of these instrumentalists have had stints with world-class youth ensembles such as the Asian Youth Orchestra and the World Youth Orchestra. As a resident performing group of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the orchestra performs regularly at the CCP.
Photo credit: The Varsitarian