Music Connects People
Every Holy Week, Church Simplified offers Manila an alternative way of looking at the passion of Christ thru Walkway: Reflections on the Stations of the Cross. The Interactive art installations – which runs the stretch of Bonifacio High Street all the way to Shangri-la The Fort – has drawn thousands to the area, as they reflect and pray with their families.
A major highlight of Walkway is the annual Easter Concert, which is open to the public. In the first few years, the concert featured among the best musicians in the local scene, includingthe likes of Julianne, Robin Nievera, Amber Davis, Marcus Davis, Paolo Valenciano, Jay Durias, and even Gary Valenciano.
Church Simplified spiritual director Bebo Bharwani elaborates on the importance of music to the church’s ministry, saying “Church Simplified as a community has always believed in the power of the arts to be a medium that can open up both the heart and mind. Music has always been core to the human experience. At a personal level, in our quiet moments, music can get beneath our skin and speak to us. And yet music also has special power, when used in the context of community. It can unite us, allow our personal journeys to have a common theme. A hymn we can all sing together to know that we are connected. Music has the ability to challenge and be inspired by ideas.”
Currently, Church Simplified as a community has produced five full-length albums, and most of which can be downloaded for free at www.churchsimplified.com
In 2013, Church Simplified took the Walkway Easter Concert even a step further by bringing in international artists to perform in the free show. Among the artists the Church Simplified has brought in are Jars of Clay, Gungor, Kye Kye and Mutemath.
Bharwani explains that the group decided to pursue this endeavor because “…Making international artists accessible to our country, especially those who are of substance, can help inspire our own artists. This is our way of contributing to exposure and education.”
The choice of artist is based on the message behind their songs. “Artists that describe what it means to be human – our struggles, our potential, our failings and our victories. These are all a common thread. Each time you walk away from the experience, you are a little bit changed.”
Celebrating its eight year, Church Simplified flew in American rock band Switchfoot to perform at the Walkway on Easter Sunday. The Grammy-award winning band is known for their iconic hits such as “Dare You to Move,” “Meant to Live,” “Love Alone is Worth the Fight,” “Learning to Breathe,” and “Stars.”
For about 90 minutes, Jon Foreman and his band unleashed a flood of hits that was a firm reminder of Foreman’s songwriting prowess. It was incredibly intimate. And captivating.
Switchfoot began their set with “Stars.” The legendary frontman was on point all night playing guitar and moving around the stage.
It was divine and thrilling to hear the crowd sing backup. And there was no denying that Jon and the band were having fun too, “Mahal namin ang Pilipinas. It’s our third visit here and we feel like we’re an extended family. We are friends. We are family,” he beamed.
One of the highlights of the show was when Jon went down the stage and sang-along to the delight of the adoring crowd. Other equally noteworthy was the catchy and energetic “Let It Out” coupled of other crowd’s favorites such as “Twenty Four,” “Your Love is a Song,” “This is Your Life,” “On Fire,” “When We Come Alive,” “Dark Horses,”and “Hello Hurricane”.
But Jon Foreman and Switchfoot weren’t done just yet.
The band’s three-song encore opened with a stripped-down and commanding version of “Dare You to Move,” which brought the crowd to its feet, followed by the gentle and dramatic “Only Hope”. Switchfoot closed the show with the anthemic “Where I Belong,” as the crowd sang along, clapped and whooped.
It was magical. And powerful. And very personal.
For those who watched the show, what was your favorite Switchfoot moment?
Photo Credit: Jude Ng