Filipinos pay tribute to maestro of church music

Popular composer, lyricist, and music arranger, Melvin Corpin, has died
Filipinos pay tribute to maestro of church music

The late Filipino musician Melvin Corpin leads the artist group Waraynon Initiative Network in a charity concert in Tacloban City in July 2017. (Photo by Gerry Ruiz)

Filipino Catholics in the central Philippines are mourning the death of a man they love to describe as "The Maestro" of church music in their part of the world.

Melvin Corpin, composer, lyricist, and music arranger, died on May 11 in the United States after a long illness. He was 55. 

"He is a great loss to the music ministry in Palo Archdiocese," said Eileen Ballesteros of the Santo Nino Church in Tacloban. 

"He was one of the best composers of church music in the archdiocese," said Ballesteros.

Some of Corpin's compositions were played during a papal Mass during Pope Francis' visit to Leyter province in 2015.

On Jan. 17, 2015, Corpin led a 250-member Palo Archdiocese choir during the pope's Mass for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

"Our archdiocese has lost a musical treasure, but heaven gained another talent for the heavenly orchestra," said Philip Jude Acidre who worked with Corpin for a National Youth Day celebration.

"I remember him indulging our request for a musical composition of the Credo in [the local language] and an Agnus Dei that would allow the eucharistic ministers to have the time to move to the more than 50 communion stations," recalled Acidre. 

He said there was even a plan last year to come up with an album of liturgical songs that would be titled "The Sacred Works of Melvin Corpin."

"Sad that we would not be able to make that project a reality, at least not with Melvin around," said Acidre.

Madonna Songalia said she grew up with Corpin's music in her parish. "He was able to send warm and beautiful music to the faithful," she told ucanews.com.

Palo Archdiocese spokesman, Father Chris Arthur Militante, expressed his gratitude to Corpin whom the priest described as "a mentor, and a friend."

Corpin was vice president for Ensemble, Training and Development of the group Waraynon Initiative Network, a non-profit organization based in Southern California, when he died.

The organization is a group of Filipinos that aims "to preserve and promote Philippine heritage through arts."

In a statement, the group said the late musician was "an integral part of the organization" and he leaves behind "a legacy of music, love, and friendship."

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Jess de Paz, artistic director of the Leyte Dance Theater, said Corpin's music "will linger as a beautiful memoir."

Corpin's love for music showed early in his life when at four years old he began to play the piano. When he turned 10, he started writing and arranging music.

He finished a music degree at Leyte Normal University in Tacloban City. After graduation, he began organizing concerts and choirs in parishes and schools.

Church and government leaders later commissioned Corpin to compose and arrange liturgical hymns and music. He used to travel abroad to do workshops and concerts as music director of the charismatic group "Family of God's Little Children."

He led the children's choir of the St. Therese Educational Foundation of Tacloban in winning awards in competitions around the country.

Corpin's musical genius enabled him to live and work in the United States where the St. Monica Parish Church in Carpentersville, Illinois, commissioned him to be its choir's musical director.

Prior to his death, he was also music director of the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Choir in Pahrump, Nevada.

Corpin is survived by his wife Carla, a nurse and a singer, and their four children who also play different musical instruments.

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