It is with deep sadness and regret that we announce that Ricardo “Dick” Zamora ‘49 joined our Creator at 12:55 p.m. today, September 10, 2011. Farewell brod! Your music, those songs within our hearts live on, your legacy will be forever as the sun!
Dick Zamora’s name, to many Philippine music connoisseurs, is largely and especially associated with, among others, “Aloyan,” – whose melody he conscientiously composed when he was barely in his 20s. This particular piece marked his discovery if not entry into music’s mystifying world where he remains a living icon for over half a century now. For all his low-key personality, Dick has assiduously added to the Philippine musical bank through his numerous and dazzling contributions towards the true appreciation of this art form, classical or Philippine. Playing at first the piano like a virtuoso, he went on to write and arrange loads of novel compositions, cavalcades, and other musical scores. He took time when possible to share his knowledge and skills as a professorial lecturer with college and university students. More so, he was able to teach to and reach out with the masses through the medium of broadcast and television, having been a show director. Not be missed out were his additional efforts at spreading zarzuela appreciation as well as his musical endeavours for the GSP (Girl Scouts of the Philippines).
This is a brief account about the life of this humble but ardent music lover. Presently almost an octogenarian, Dick can look back, with honest glow and pride, at his countless accomplishments in the boundless realm of music, Philippine and others.
Introduction to the musical world
Third in a brood of fourteen siblings, Dick (aka Ricardo Vicente) Zamora was initiated into the musical world when he was but in his mid-teens – his attendance at a November 1941 concert at the Rizal Memorial Stadium kindled in him the drive to be a concert pianist! This, for the youthful artist, was one concert that just literally enthralled him. That, despite the thundering tremors of that period as the Japanese Imperial Forces were stealthily creeping into the country.
Nonetheless, young Dick was enthralled by the majestic performance of the Manila Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Dr. Herbert Zipper, who masterfully conducted various pieces, most especially Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Opus 23. Late into that night, Dick vowed to himself he would become a concert pianist!
High school education during the Japanese WWII occupation, Dick totally skipped as he believed that it would not bear accreditation after the war. Instead, he took up piano lessons with Maestra Guadalupe Silvestre, spending Sunday afternoons in the company of leading classical performers as they showcased their talents at the residence of National Artist Antonio Molina. After the war, Dick dutifully went back to school at the Ateneo where he became the official accompanist of the Ateneo Glee Club under Fr. Antonio Cuna, S.J. Teener Dick would play the piano with bravado, most especially Spanish bravura pieces like “Danza Ritual del Fuego” and “Malaguena”.
At the U.P. Conservatory/College of Music
Continuing on higher education at the U.P. Conservatory of Music, Dick honed his piano playing skills under Maestro Serafin Magracia, from whom he meticulously learned the Leopold Godowski technique. His talents in music composition were sharpened under the highly astute and competent National Artist Antonio Buenaventura. The latter would give extra lessons to the aspiring pianist on the various uses of the musical chords and techniques for modulations. At times, Buenaventura would give Dick a motif of four to six notes as he made Dick work on the same as practicum exercise.
Twice did Dick graduate from U.P., firstly in 1950 and then in 1952.
At his 1950 graduation for the degree of “Graduate in Music”, Dick was the featured soloist for the 1950 U.P. Conservatory of Music commencement concert, where he chose to play Aram Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto in D flat. He was assisted by the U.P. Symphony Orchestra under his mentor, Maestro Antonio Buenaventura.
For his 1952 graduation for the degree of Bachelor in Music, Dick opted to do a first in the country – rendering a recital of the George Gershwin Piano Concerto in F, that was written in jazz idiom form. This brought about an open controversy between the conservatory’s pro and anti jazz followers. The anti-jazz conservatives in the Conservatory’s Piano Department to regarded said concerto’s idiom not “credible” as a pre-requisite for graduation. However, Director Ramon Tapales (a jazz enthusiast), to whom Dick brought up the issue, ruled in Dick’s favor, declaring the concerto as “sufficient” in form, hence, credited for graduation.
This jazz idiom question pitted on a one-on-one level two musical maestros: Director Tapales against Dr. Eliseo Pajaro (an anti-jazz advocate). Their dispute that ran for sometime got resolved only when American musicologist Barry Ulanov wrote thus: “If the U.P. Conservatory of Music does not like jazz, it should change its name to U.P. Conservatory of Classical Music!” Well, the argument found resolution through the renaming of this particular institute of the university to “U. P. College of Music,” where jazz was eventually incorporated into the curriculum.
First Original Composition
In 1949, when Dick sought admission into U. P.’s oldest and most prestigious fraternity (Upsilon Sigma Phi), he was tasked by no less than the fraternity head, Most Illustrious Fellow George Gonzales to write out a March for the fraternity to rally about and to rally the fraternity together.
What Dick produced was recognized as his first original composition that remains the bonding piece between and among his fraternity members over the world. The score’s bold martial tones plus its crisp and rallying lyrics add to the aura of oneness among Upsilonians of all ages and professions, spread worldwide – “one every time, everywhere”, whom time or “ years cannot break but will only seal, weld together like true and tempered steel”.
The Upsilon Cavalcades/Reach Out
Past his graduation, Dick was still heavily involved in the composition of musicales, or the Upsilon Cavalcades. In fact, he was somehow responsible for nine out of those twelve cavalcades (four of whose musical scores he originally composed) that his fraternity (Upsilon Sigma Phi) produced over a period of ten years, to the pleasure of an admiring audience of students, faculty, professionals and musicale lovers.
And to think that the motivating force behind these fraternity productions was principally to raise funds for the U. P. janitors and, for the construction of the U.P. Catholic Chapel with then chaplain Fr. John Delaney, S.J.
Following are the cavalcades, their title and year of production where Dick’s involvement in 9 of them, is specified, namely:
Cavalcade II (Four of the Six), 1949. For this show, Dick, a new frat member then, formed the Upsilon All Male Chorus;
Cavalcade III (Aloyan), 1959. Dick wrote the original musical score, now considered a classic, with lyrics and storyline by Mart Martell and Teddy Yabut respectively. The classic musicale had six presentations at the CCP’s Main Theater in 1978, the 60th anniversary of the Upsilon Sigma Phi;
Cavalcade IV (Encore), 1951. Aloyan’s the “Mountain Scene” and the “Dream Waltz” were re-staged;
Cavalcade V (I’ll Take Manila) in 1952. Dick wrote the Ballet Sequences;
Cavalcade VI (Trio) in 1953, Trio featured a comedy (Sa Pula, Sa Puti), a drama (Nerves) and an Upsilon mini-musical Hanako written by Dick, Mart and Teddy. There was no Cavalcade in 1954 as the Fraternity was suspended;
Cavalcade VII (Linda) in 1955. Dick, Mart, and Teddy wrote the musical.
Cavalcade VIII (Stag ’56) in 1956. He organized a new choral group Upsilon Men of Songs in a 15-song Choral Concert interspersed with spoofs, satire and comedy;
Cavalcade IX (Aloyan) in 1957. A revival of Aloyan by popular request;
Cavalcade X (Interior 14) in 1958. The last cavalcade Dick was involved in. With another Conservatory of Music student entering the Frat, Dick felt that it was due time for him to move on as some new talents in the frat would take over production responsibilities of the cavalcades. He assigned Crisostomo Gonzales to write seven songs while he wrote the other seven to complete fourteen songs that would jive with the title Interior 14.
Some of the compositions in the cavalcades became and were, in relation to the rest, crowd favorites, especially Aloyan and Linda that had performances at the Far Eastern University Auditorium in Manila. Aloyan, Hanako and Linda went to Summerstock Tours throughout the country so as to raise funds, as mentioned, for the U.P. Diliman Catholic Chapel construction. Again, Aloyan had U.S. West Coast performances sponsored by the U.P. Alumni Association, Berkeley Chapter, at the Hofmann Theater in Berkeley, California.
Furthermore, three songs from Aloyan (“When You’re Away”, “Once Upon a Dream” and “Aloyan’s Lullaby”) were featured in a Song Recital by Fides Cuyugan-Asensio and Jimmy Melendres at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Working in the Motion Picture Industry
In 1950, Lamberto Avellana, later on named National Artist, was among the honored guests that attended the Premiere Night of Aloyan. Apparently impressed with the music, he passed by for Dick the following Monday, presenting him to Dońa Sisang De Leon, the matriarch of LVN Pictures. After hearing Dick’s range of music and skill, Dońa Sisang could not but be impressed that she made him LVN’s Musical Director on-the-spot. And, his first assignment was named Pagasa.
Later on, Sampaguita Pictures’ Dr. Pinggot Perez, at the behest of Tony de Joya, hired the services of Dick for the movie Kidnapped that centered around Tony’s ordeal. Even before the movie was completed, Dr. Perez gave Dick another two assignments. One was Rosa Rossini for which Dick wrote the “Ballet of the Magic Shoes,” choreographed by Totoy Oteysa; the other, being “Vicky”, which starred Dr. Perez”s own daughter Lilibeth. Soon after, assignment after assignment followed - Dick became a fixture at Sampaguita stable which later produced for-world-release-bound “Holiday in Bali,” research on whose gamelan music Dick had to travel to Bali, Indonesia!
Indeed, Dick’s work in the movie industry centered on musical direction for almost all the giant Philippine movie companies: LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures, Vera-Perez Productions, United Brothers and Cine Filipino.
On to Broadcast Media
Into this particular media work, Dick was lured by CBN (Chronicle Broadcasting Network) General Manager, Geny Lopez. The company’s “sign-on to sign-off” classical music station, DZMM, was in a moribund state. So Dick’s mission after his appointment as that station’s Program Chief, was to work up the station’s listeners. He devised ways and means to do so while continuing to moonlight on his on-the-side movie contracts.
It must be noted that before Dick’s joining DZMM, that station was nowhere in the charts or survey listing, where it was merely mentioned as “among others”. His hard work at balanced programming earned a significant rise among the station’s listeners all over such that it found its mark in the survey listing. It need not be said that with Mr. Lopez’s blanket authority, Dick was able to build up the network’s music library into the country’s largest and widest collection of classical and popular music. However, this collection was unfortunately ransacked at the onset of martial rule in the 70s.
With the merger of ABS (Alto Broadcasting System) with CBN, Dick was moved to television where he was Executive Producer for premium shows. His performance as such could be gauged by garnering 4 of the “Top Ten” listing on the surveys.
When ABS-CBN was closed during the 70s political turmoil, Dick was taken in by GMA TV-7 where he became Executive Producer/Director for Television. Later on, he was made TV Production Manager until his retirement.
With the Academic World and Zarzuela
While working full time for GMA TV-7, Dick found some room to share his knowledge with learners and students. He taught as a professorial lecturer on Electronic Media and Television Research Surveys at the Maryknoll College and at U.P., respectively. He was also resource person at the KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Broadkasters ng Pilipinas) on TV Production to graduating students in mass communications and on Radio and Television for the National Training School of the GSP (Girl Scout of the Philippines).
Dick also made some contribution to the propagation of the zarzuela art form when the then dean of Philippine journalists, Ka Doroy Valencia, got him involved in it. Through the Zarzuela Foundation of the Philippines, Ka Doroy commissioned Dick to write two zarzuelas for both stage and television. One was “Sa Lahat ng Oras”, staged at the CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) and aired over PTV-Channel 4; the other, “Ang Pasko ay Pagibig”, shown at the Philamlife Auditorium while aired over Channel 9. A third zarzuela, “Puso-Pusu-an” Dick wrote for the Marsman & Co. for the latter’s anniversary production.
Other Works Commissioned and Awards
Mention must be made about Dick’s other accomplishments, including especially scores so composed for special occasions and the Masses also commissioned. These, among others, were the Ateneo de Manila University Centennial Hymn, the lyrics of which were written by the foremost historian, Horacio de la Costa, S.J.; Josefa Llanes Centennial song; Mass to St. Peter in Latin, commissioned by the Franciscan Order; Mass to Our Lady of Piat in Ilokano, by the town of Piat, Cagayan; Misang Pilipino and Marsman Hymn & March, commissioned by the Marsman & Co. Dick who is also very much affiliated with the GSP wrote for it a march as well as a camping song.
Among others, Dick’s original works included religious songs, scores for “Two Pianos – Four Hands”, concert transcriptions for flute and piano, and a Filipino art song (Kay Selya [Francisco Balagtas]).
It was but natural that Dick’s multi-work in the world of music deservingly brought him multi-awards. Among these were from CAT (Citizen’s Award for Television), PATAS (Pambansang Agham pang Telebisyon at Sining); and, CMMA (Catholic Mass Media Awards), notably for “Outstanding Director for Drama Series” [for Katha] and for “Outstanding Original Music for TV” [Bakit Ganito and Damdamin Ko]. It is to be noted that Dick’s directorial job for “Katha” won for the program the highest award for TV – “The Kalinangan Award”.
But his most cherished awards were: his 1999 proclamation by the U.P. College of Music as a “Living Legend” and the 2004 tribute given to him by the Upsilon Sigma Phi at the Club Filipino.
Life Beyond Music
Dick’s life story, reduced to these few pages, tells of a person who, like a number before him, fell in love with music at a young age and has faithfully so remained until his present advanced age. His unique and innumerable feats, all outstanding, have undoubtedly impacted on the many whom over time, he has tried to continuously reach out to – the true lovers of music. Whether he was entertaining his listeners by playing the piano, or writing original compositions or musicales and other commissioned scores for his beloved alma mater (Ateneo and U.P.), and private companies, or working as musical director for shows in the country’s broadcast or TV media, or simply catering to his audience towards the definitive appreciation of classical or Philippine music, including the zarzuela, Dick expended six decades of his life doing all these and many more. For these he received awards or remains un-rewarded (yet).
Critical observers will note that in accomplishing these feats, Dick’s musical style was always guided by the true and unadulterated form of music, never veering towards commercialism, something that definitely differentiates him from others.
If at the end of the day, one were asked what role did the artist in Dick Zamora play on the over-all Philippine musical scene, a universally applicable term would be that of a “musical educator.” For verily, said term would fittingly describe this person who lived his life, from his teens to the present, always educating and showing his circle of friends, and admirers, his general audience and listeners, how to ultimately love and appreciate music, Philippine or classical, in its pure, aesthetic form.