Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jonathan Zaens

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens
Bass-Baritone Singer
Berlin, Germany

"There are singers and singers, but only a few have a gift for interpretation that goes beyond what the text and music signify." Pablo Tariman wrote this in The Inquirer concerning Berlin-based, Filipino bass-baritone singer, Jonathan De La Paz Zaens, on the release of his CD, "Kundiman, Philippine Art Songs".

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens earned his Bachelor's Degree in Voice, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines under Prof. Andrea O. Veneracion and his Master's degree in Voice from the Academy of Arts in Berlin, Germany under Prof. Dr. Herbert Brauer.

Engagements have brought him to the Prague State Opera and Prague Estates Theater where he sang the Mozart roles of Leporello from Don Giovanni and Guglielmo from Cosi fan tutte. Other guest appearances include: Dulcamara from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore and Alidoro from Hasse's La Sorella Amante at the Neukoeliner Opera Berlin. The Abbot from Britten's Curfew River at the New Opera Stage Berlin and King Xerxes from J.C. Bach's Temistocle at the Berlin Chamber Opera.

He has recently ventured into contemporary opera, singing for the Berlin Festival 2002, the roles of Malaspina from S. Sciarrino's Die Toedliche Blume and Luzifer in K. Stockhausen's Michael's Jugend aus Donnerstag aus Licht. For the Salzburg Festival 2003, he sang the baritone part in the world premier of Stockhausen's Duefte-Zeichen.

The Berlin based Bass-baritone is also a much sought interpreter of Oratorio (sacred) Music, performing regularly the bass solo parts in: J.S. Bach's St. John and St. Matthew Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the b-minor Mass and his cantatas; Mendelssohn's Elijah and Paulus; Handel's Messiah; Hyden's Creation; Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle; Saint-Saens' Oratorio de Noel; Dvorak's Stabat mater and the Requiem settings of Brahms, Mozart, Faure and Verdi.

Jonathan is a prize winner of the 7th Sylvia Gesxty International Coloratura Voice Competition and a Finalist of the 13th Jonathan Bach International Competition.

A former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Jonathan joined the group in their 1989 world tour, covering the United State, Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia. He was also the Philippine representative to the World Youth Choir in Norway (1993) and South America (1994).

In 2008, Mr. Zaens was in Manila to perform in a concert called Virtuosos 2008 at the CCP, where he performed with fellow classical artists, soprano Camille Lopez Molina, mezzo soprano Clarissa Ocampo, and tenors Nolyn Cabahug and Randy Gilongo, countertenor Mark Anthony Carpio, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, visiting French bass baritone Jerome Correas and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. (Photo below shows his mom, Mely, on the piano in one of his performances in Manila.) He impressed the crowd, critics called him a Virtuoso. He not only impressed with his singing but also because he was very good-looking and charismatic on stage. Floy Quintos called him the Piolo Pascual of classical music.

Jonathan released a CD entitled Kundiman, Philippine Art Songs. This CD was produced by Sundro Keller and recorded in St. Paulus GermendeGrosser Saal in Berlin and features kundiman compositions of Nicanor Abelardo, Francisco Santiago, Mike Velarde Jr. and Resurreccion Bunyi with musical arrangement by Ryan Cayabyab, and piano accompaniment by Abelardo Galang II. Zaens' way with words and phrases blend with the music with magnificent results and brings back to life this treasure trove of now nearly forgotten Phillipine art songs.

Jonathan's mother, Mely, is a music teacher herself. She narrates that Jonathan's interest in singing began at a very early age, when he and his brother sang in a choir. The choir master recognized Jonathan's talent and encouraged her to enter him in some competitions. One thing led to another, and Jonathan went on to sing with the UP Madrigal Singers, and to graduate with a voice degree from the University of the Philippines. He then went on to Germany on a scholarship, which stopped after 18 months. Jonathan had to support himself doing odd jobs, but he never gave up his dream of singing. With help from his brother, a physical therapist in America, he persevered. One day, Jonathan saw an ad for a singing competition, and he approached this German professor to ask if he would prepare him for the contest. The professor told Jonathan to sing, then said that he would think about it. A week later, the professor called and said that he would teach him at a rate of Euro 175 per lesson. Jonathan almost choked, and said all that he could afford was Euro 75. The professor agreed, and Jonathan went on to win. They were two winners, out of almost 150 contestants. This launched his career as a singer in Europe, and the achievement of his dream. His mother explained that, even with the success he is enjoying, Jonathan's hard-work and discipline continues, with hours of daily practice, even when he is not performing.

Jonathan de la Paz Zaens--an overseas Filipino with world-class talent, overcoming personal hardships with support of his family, and achieving his dream!


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Mon Mon said...
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Mon Mon said...
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Mon Mon said...

I have known Jonathan back in Ateneo de Naga High School. I have seen him for a short stints but I could say that he was hardworking, disciplined and gifted to have a wonderful voice. I have known his family (mum Mely and his siblings) to be musically inclined. In fact his mum is a music teacher. I had the chance also to watch his performance in one of the concerts of UP Madrigal Singers in Naga City.

Mabuhay ka Jonathan! A world class talent! Pride of Ateneo! Pride of Naga City! Pride of the Philippines!

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