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Gina Medina - First AYO concertmaster from the Philippines

AYO member: 1994 & 1995 Currently: Concertmaster of Manila Symphony Orchestra Faculty member at UST Conservatory of Music, St. Paul University Philippines High School for the Arts and the MSO Academy

I joined AYO in 1994 and was appointed as one of the concertmasters. The pressure that I put on myself was overwhelming , but what I remember was that the faculty members were so supportive and encouraging. Their behaviour and outlook left an imprint on me that I vowed to be that kind of teacher when I become one. I returned to AYO the following year, in 1995. This time I was more prepared to fully embrace the AYO experience. While the previous year all I did was practice, that year, I wanted to enjoy not just the music making but to make friends and to enjoy the tour, especially the US tour since it would be my first time to go there. While we were in HK for the rehearsal camp, there was a Japanese with a tv camera who tried to ask for an interview with me. He wanted to know my insights about the bombing in Nagasaki and Hiroshima . Apparently, it was the 50th anniversary of the WWII bombing in Japan. I was tongue tied. All I know was during WWII, a whole family from my clan was massacred by the Japanese. I decided to keep silent. I didn’t want to offend. But throughout the tour I reflected on the past and observed the Japanese people around me. I spent time with them. We talked, we laughed, ate together and made music together. I fell in love with the people and the culture. From then on, I no longer remember Japan as one former enemy of my country. When I think of Japan, I remember the faces of my friends and the music that we made together. I thank AYO for forging relationships through music. Indeed, music brings healing and harmony. As concertmaster of the Manila Symphony Orchestra and mentor to young musicians, I strive to maintain the level of excellence that I experienced in AYO and to use music to bring out the best in humanity.

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