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SPOTLIGHT: NEW HARAYA TENOR EJ GULTIA on Joining Haraya and the MACC Competition

I heard about Haraya when my friend, Jes, wanted me to audition. I was delighted by the idea and decided to check them out in their Christmas concert last December. The moment I heard them sing, I said to myself, 'I need to join this choir'. I've been looking for a choir to join since I arrived in London back in 2018. And it is such heaven's blessing that I came across this magnificent group. Joining was not easy, I even thought I won't make the cut. But lo and behold, Ms. Karlene said I got in, and my heart was extremely overjoyed.

She told me that we will be participating in a competition on March and she wants me to work hard so I can be included to sing with Haraya's competition ensemble. I was really challenged and enthralled by the idea since this will be my first choir competition in the UK. I thought that it might be intimidating and challenging since I don't read music. I also thought that it would be nerve-wracking to do the Haraya quartet exams. But I was proven wrong. They were all so heart-warmingly welcoming to me and it almost feels like a family. We laugh, we crack jokes, it is indeed a perfect way to de-stress myself from work. But it was never easy, there were a lot of trials and times when I almost felt like I'm dragging the group down (my low self-esteem sometimes kicking in). But then again, they would always coach me, and more knowledgeable members were not afraid to tell me whenever I am singing the wrong pitch or I am too fast, whether I was flat or sharp so I can improve. They always give me good advice on technique and how to attack the piece. That's when I realised I made the right decision and was not mistaken to choose to join this choir. Our conductor Karlene is outstanding in her ways of teaching the ensemble. She tries to paint a picture for all of us to see how she wants the song to be interpreted and that, partnered with her unparalleled skills, makes her a superb lead. My tenor section leader, King, is also very supportive. He always makes me feel that I belong and he is like the older brother I never had.

Joining the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition was really a stimulating experience. We learned a lot as a group and we learned to trust our conductor no matter what. No words can explain how tense the experience was. But alas, we did all we were taught to do, and tried to enjoy the experience as much as we could. Win or lose, we gained experience. For us, that in itself is a great prize to be won. We bettered ourselves and that was an achievement for all of us. After we performed, there was a huge standing ovation which made us all overly ecstatic. Seeing the audience and the judges enjoy what we offered was a welcome plus.

When they announced that we won, I couldn't believe it. I mean, I never doubted our capabilities but the other competitors were excellent as well. One thing I truly learned from this experience is that, if you put your heart into your whatever you are passionate about, and listen to your mentors, nothing is impossible. This win is for all of us! I am extremely humbled by this experience and I am proud to say that I am a Haraya choir member.

We made a milestone for Haraya and history for the Filipino community in the United Kingdom. Thank you Haraya for this experience. Thank you everyone for achieving this together! I can't wait for our next performance. I am sure we will sing it with more skill, life and emotion. Kudos MACC 2020 Champion! 🤗☺️😍🏆

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