Carpio became choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers (known fondly as Madz) in 1991. He took over from National Artist Professor Andrea O. Veneracion, who founded and led the group for 40 years. Since then, Carpio has borne the Herculean task of continuing prof. Veneracion’s artistic legacy.
Mark Anthony Carpio began his musical journey as a boy soprano, who also took lessons in piano and flute. He entered the University of the Philippines as a scholar of the Music Promotion Foundation and the Jovita Fuentes Musicultural Society and graduated magna cum laude. He joined the Madz as an outstanding countertenor soloist. When he first performed with the group, he was placed on the “hot seat,” the chair next to the choirmaster.
As choirmaster of the Madz, he led the group to multiple prize-winning runs in concert tours and musical festivals in the US, Canada, Thailand, Korea, Spain, and France, among others. With Carpio at the helm, the Madz won the Grand Prize at the Florilege Vocal de Tours 2006 in Tours, France, and at the 50th Certamen International de Habaneras y Polifonia in Torrevieja, Spain.
What was it like growing up in the Carpio household? Were you all into music?
My father was a frustrated musician. In his younger years, he used to play the clarinet in a band. He was a disciplinarian and watched over my brothers and me. We took piano lessons, and then later, we were encouraged to learn other instruments like the organ, violin, and also voice. When I was in college, my father pushed me to take up music. He said that among the three of us siblings, he saw the most potential in me. But I wanted to be an engineer like him. I loved mathematics, my favorite subject. So we agreed, I would take up music first, then later I could take up any course I wanted. My major was piano. After a while, I enjoyed what I was doing. It was only after I graduated that I decided to join the Madz, to go into choral conducting.
How do you prepare for a competition or a concert?
Before we perform, we always pray. I believe I’m here because of Divine Providence. I also get the strength from the Madz themselves. We get our strength from each other.
What lesson did you learn from Prof. Andrea Veneracion that, to this day, you still practice and incorporate in your life?
Prof. Veneracion is a very spiritual person. She would always say that if something happens, it happens because of divine intervention. There’s always a spiritual reason for everything that happens, whether good or bad. Every time we win in a competition, or even if we don’t do well, she would always say “it’s meant to be” or “it’s because of some reason we don’t know.” Prof. Veneracion never gives up, she would always be focused, and she never lost hope. She would always motivate us to do better. And that’s what I try to live up to. She never gives up and I try to do the same.
Being the choirmaster, you deal with different personalities. What binds the Madz together?
I guess it is the genuine passion for singing, for making good music. Sometimes we’re bothered by our differences, especially when we are on tour. But we always remember that we are there to make good music. We look beyond our differences and just concentrate on making good music.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I’m sure I’ll still be making music. I tend to focus more on the next two years, not the long term.
If you had a message for the public, what would it be?
To our listeners, we need your help and support. Some people might not realize how important art is. We have to keep on believing that we need the arts—whether it is music, dance, or visual arts—in our lives.
Print ed: 11/08