In lieu of the priesthood, tenor Al Gatmaitan serves God through singing


Arnel Ramos, InterAksyon | September 30, 2017, 1:30 PM

Singer Al Gatmaitan and musical director Jesse Lucas.

There was one summer in Rome when tenor Al Gatmaitan seriously contemplated entering the priesthood.

“Nagpaalam na ako sa parents ko. They were expecting na hindi na muna ako uuwi,” recalls Al who has family members that are part of the clergy.

He had originally journeyed solo to Italy on a scholarship to earn a Diploma in Teaching Italian Language Abroad from the University of Dante Aleghieri. “I eventually really fell in love with the language that is very romantic.”

He scored more scholarships to study at Teatro Calabria (Acting and Diction); Spazio Teatro (Actor’s Formation); and Conservatorio “Torre Franca” di Vibo Valentia (Intensive Vocal Formation Training).

Al’s Italian spiritual adviser would find out about his confusion. “Ang sabi sa akin ng formator ko, ‘you can serve through your art. Singing is a gift that God has given you. Ask for a sign.’”

That same night, Al dreamed that God handed him a paper on which was scribbled in Italian “Andare con la tua arte” which means “Go with your art” in English. He had the words tattooed on his body.

Al Gatmaitan knew that it was time to go home to Manila. “I had missed performing, the energy that it brings you.”

Upon his return, Gatmaitan was soon featured in lead roles in plays like “Noli Me Tangere,” “Banaag at Sikat,” “Tales of the Manuvu,” “Skin Deep,” among others. He has also crossed over into more mainstream platforms like TV soaps and films with such credits as “In Nomine Matris,” “The Mistress,” and “Aparisyon.”

Gatmaitan’s musical prowess and versatility will be in full display as the first featured artist in the kick-off of Artist Playground’s Playlist, a series of intimate concerts. He will headline Track 1 entitled “Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart” on September 29 and 30 at 8PM at Arts Above, 112 West Ave., Quezon City.

The two-night intimate concert features a carefully selected repertoire that is a byproduct of brainstorming sessions with director Andre Tiangco, acclaimed stage-TV-and-film actor Roeder Camanag, and award-winning composer and musical director Jesse Lucas.

Lucas says that Al Gatmaitan was an easy choice as featured artist for the initial salvo of Artist Playground’s Playlist.

“Personally, I love the texture of Al’s voice and how it rubs you the right way. It is seldom that we can find a musical artist who can cross over into other musical genres without losing the soul, own the song, and not sound too rigid like most classically trained artists.”

The two have worked together previously on a three-track album that has been released online. Two of the songs in the album are the kundiman “Bituing Marikit” and a poem “Sa Muling Pagsibol” written by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera as an elegy to the wreckage left behind by Typhoon Yolanda and set to music by Lucas. These same songs Gatmaitan will sing in the intimate concert.

“In My Heart” is poised to break notions that Gatmaitan’s gifts and skills are limited to doing arias. He is a classical crossover artist who can run the gamut of musical genres with ease and excellence.

Jesse guarantees that after watching “In My Heart,” audiences “will be moved by the voice and the soulful singing of Al rather than jest, ‘ang taas ng boses.’ More than the technique, it’s what we impart to the audience, the heart and soul, through our music.”

Lucas’ expertise and vast experience as a prolific and much decorated composer and musical director will serve to support Gatmaitan’s great, robust voice.

“Dito sa ‘In My Heart,’ Jesse advised me to sing the songs the way I feel them which is in sync with how I do it. Hindi kasi ako masyadong ma-metro or measured as a singer,” shares Al.

Two years ago, Lucas decided to go on semi-retirement from TV scoring chores. “For the longest time, nakakahon ako sa studio, na mag-isang nagtatrabaho. Gustung-gusto kong mag-live. Yung mas may interaction with singers and other musicians. Mas fulfilling for me. Mas masaya.”

The concert featuring Al Gatmaitan is one of those collaborations Jesse Lucas has been dreaming about.

For tickets to “Al Gatmaitan: In My Heart,” call Ticketworld at 891-9999. Prices are P1000 for VIP and P800 for General Admission. Limited seats only.