JAN NELAND CABUGUAS learned to play the keyboard and joined the school choir at a young age. Because of his avid interest in Music Theory, harmony, polyphony and instruments of the orchestra, he decided to study Music Composition at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music. His mentors in Composition were Fr. Nicolas Sengson SVD, Fr. Manuel Maramba OSB and Dr. Antonio Africa. He was a member of the UST Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, the UST Symphonic Band as a flautist, and the UST Symphony Orchestra as a violinist. His experiences as a musical performer contributed to his appreciation of the unique beauty of each instrument and eventually inspired him to compose for the orchestra.



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Beyond the Mountains


“Beyond The Mountains” is an orchestral work that not only focuses on the music of Banaue, but also on Banaue itself as an inspiration to the composer. With the rice terraces in mind, the piece starts with an ascending and leaping melody played by the horns to signify the rising steps of the terraces. The whole piece is based on that phrase. 

As the piece progresses, a xylophone is heard imitating raindrops falling while the string section in pizzicati and soft tremolos emulate the feel of soft rain pouring down. Playful woodwinds signify birds singing especially on the piccolo. Loud passages on the trumpets indicate a festive celebration with the drums providing music for the dancing. All these while the melody is played and developed. In one section, the strings describe the graceful movements of the women. The pentatonic scale is utilized at some point just like the native nose flute.

One might imagine the music as a traveler journeying to Banaue and anticipating the adventure that awaits him there. As the piece come to an end, the main theme is heard again like a last remembrance of the land as the traveler leaves to continue his journey elsewhere.

The piece is loosely in ABC-BCA form. Keeping in mind that this piece is for Banaue, the composer also took into account the orchestral instruments, and their own musicality as a section in the orchestra.

“Beyond The Mountains” was the title chosen because there is something rich beyond what we always see - the people of Banaue, their land, culture, and music - remind us that what we see is just the product of much more beautiful creations.