Performing a love song, lullaby, or popular dance hit, the band members have forged a distinct and unique musical style. It is this unusual brand of music, coupled with imaginative and lively choreography, that has won the hearts of its audiences. A repertoire of more than a hundred songs and arrangements has been rendered to a profuse mix of faces and places.
From well-loved kundimans, folk songs and classical hymns to contemporary jazz pieces, pop songs, and all-time hits, the band plays them all with a punch.
Starting as early as the age of eleven, the members, regardless of their musical inclination, are taught how to put the instruments to good use. Trained for a year, they learn the fundamental musical pieces and basic choreography as they are gradually integrated into the group as senior members. Little by little, they are allowed to join major productions.
At present, there are around fifty active members who are high school and college scholars of the University.
The band’s repertoire consists of diverse tunes, both local and foreign. Its range of musical flexibility varies from classic hymns to popular music, from jazz hits to disco ditties. Hence, they cater to all music aficionados.
Their local tunes are a blend of well-loved musical pieces and contemporary tunes. “Bahay Kubo”, for example, is a Tagalog folk song simply depicting, in a jolly melody, a rustic “nipa” hut with different crops planted around it. “Lolay”, a harana or serenade, reveals the romantic nature of Filipinos. “Lahat ng Araw” and “Dahil sa ‘Yo” are prime examples of another romantic musical form called the kundiman. The group’s repertoire also include lively regional folk songs like “Pamulinawen” from Ilocos, “Sarung Banggi” from Bicol, “Ay, Ay Kalisud” and “Dandansoy” from the Visayas and “Zamboanga” from Mindanao. Pop hits from local artists like Gary Valenciano’s “Di Na Natuto” and Ryan Cayabyab’s “Kailan” are among the many songs of the modern OPM (Original Pilipino Music) genre.
It also has a wide selection of all-time favorites from all over the world such as “Waltzing Matilda” from Australia, “Chisai Yaki” from Japan, “O Sole Mio” from Italy, and “La Paloma” from Spain. The band also plays classical pieces like excerpts from Charles Gounod’s opera, “Faust”. Jazz hits include Chuck Mangione’s “Feel so Good” and the classic “Take Five”. There are the sought-after movie themes such as “Unchained Melody”, “Axel F” and “I Will Always Love You”. Ballroom dancing numbers include “In the Mood” and “Mambo Jambo”. Marching tunes and hymns like “Radetzky March” and “America the Beautiful” are also on the playlist.
Prof. Siegfredo B. Calabig
Prof. Calabig is founder and mentor of the Banda Kawayan. He is the band’s composer, musical arranger and conductor. A language and literature professor, Prof. Calabig hails from a musical family from Paete, Laguna, a town noted for its intricate woodcarvings and skilled artisans.
Over the years, Prof. Calabig has trained the band members to perform a variety of musical styles. His eldest son, Rossini, acts as assistant conductor and musical arranger.