Belford King Mabunga is an artist of the Klassikal Music Foundation, a foundation that provides financial assistance for deserving musicians in their quest to hone their talent in classical music. Aside from singing classical music, Belford is also an athelete that served as a varsity volleyball player of PWU and a basketball player in their local community.
In this Psst.Ph Part of the Story Series, Belford King Mabunga talks to us about his career in music and his experience in the industry.
Full name: Belford King Cometa Mabunga
Facebook: Belford King Mabunga
Location: Taguig City
Age: 30 years Old
Education: Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance graduate
What kind of music did you listen to today?
Today I listened to the repertoire for our concert but aside from that I listened to a lot of OPM and opera music.
When did you first know you wanted to become a singer?
I developed my love for singing because of worship at our church where music ministry is very active and I wanted to serve the Lord through my singing and musical abilities.
Who are your musical inspirations?
In the local scene my inspiration is our country’s foremost and premiere Baritone Andrew Fernando who eventually became my mentor. Aside from him, my initial inspiration was my aunt Raquel for her musicality that encouraged me to play the piano. And of course, Dr. George T. Yang, Klassikal Music Foundation’s founder, not only for his talent but for his generosity as well. Internationally, I am very much enjoying listening to American Baritone Nathan Gunn.
Do you remember the first song that you sing in the stage? And how’s the experience?
The very first solo song I sang ever is a Christian song called King of my Life. But as a learning musician at the college of Music my first selection was “Ang Pag-ibig”, a Classic Filipino song.
I was very nervous of course and I felt sick because I was going to sing in a student recital with the whole college as audience. I felt I was facing judgement.
Do you play any instruments? If yes what was the first instrument you play?
Yes, I also play the Flute and Piano but the first instrument I learned to play was the Guitar.
What was the song then?
I wanted to play the guitar to play popular songs and serenade lovely girls with the instrument. I don’t remember the exact song but I remember it being a love song.
What do you think about when your performing?
When I perform my mind is constantly thinking of the instructions my teacher gave me to do a good rendering of my songs but also I think of the deep and true meaning of the songs so I can perform. I also think of the audience so I can perform well for them.
What is something embarrassing or unexpected that happened to you on stage?
I guess the biggest fear on stage is to crack on certain notes and I had my share of it and I felt embarrassed but later on realized it is common to experience it.
What makes a good singer in your opinion?
Aside from a beautiful voice and immense musicality, a good singer must have discipline, compassion and musical integrity to be able to deliver well the songs written to sing.
What is the most rewarding part of singer?
The most rewarding factor of being a singer is knowing you are a making an artistic contribution and that you please an audience with a memorable and pleasant performance. To make a living is a plus and also a chance to travel the world with your singing.
I know you’ve worked with Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), how was your first experience with them and what was the song that you sung?
I was very honored that I got chosen to be one of the artists in the outreach program of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a special opportunity for me for many reasons but highlight are the facts that Makiling where the concert was held is a very important place for my Mama who is an active employee of the Boy Scout of the Philippines and also I got to sing Torreador from the Opera Carmen which is my brother Clint’s most favorite opera aria.
How does it feel to be singing a song in a foreign language?
It is also challenging to sing in a foreign language because of all the phonetic rules and to give the proper inflection to be true to the libretto. I am always nervous to do so but always feeling accomplished each time I am given an opportunity.
How do you go over memorizing them?
First of all I learn a foreign language using the rule guides for pronunciation and then research for its literal meaning then the poetic meaning. After that I take it to my teacher Andrew Fernando for coaching and corrections.
Besides singing, what other training have you had (dance, stage combat, etc.)?
I took some lessons in acting, dance and of course other musical instruments.
If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?
Aside from Opera and Church Music I have a strong inclination to the standards like songs of Frank Sinatra. I think the music of his time are truly golden and like classical music they stand the test of time.
Considering how tough the music industry, what does it take to excel in the business?
The music industry is a tough one, so talent alone won’t guarantee a successful career. In order to make it as a singer, you need to have discipline, and you need to learn to market yourself. As artists, we have to be aware that our art is a product to be availed. So we have to learn the tricks of the trade in order to be appealing to the market.
If you could choose, who are the musicians you would like to do collaboration with? First in classical and in pop music, and second both local and international. Why?
I would love to be given an opportunity to collaborate with Kurt Elling, the famous Jazz Artist and experience a fusion of classical singing with the Jazz touch.
Do you think classical music is in better shape now right especially in the era of social media?
Classical Music is in a challenging state due to the fact that we have not fully developed a younger audience for it. The usual audience starts to fade with a slow replacement from the current generation. Thankfully, there are organizations such as the Klassikal Music Foundation that are doing their part to nurture this genre and industry, to keep them relevant, and make them more appealing to the youth.
Why do you think so many aspiring singers end up giving up on their dream?
Many of the aspiring singers give up prematurely because of the demands of a stable career and the lack of audience in the field. Talent is not the issue for most of them but the need to sustain themselves financially is a big truth to be tackled and because of the difficulty of penetrating the industry it discourages the young and aspiring and therefore look for other vocations.This is why the Klassikal Music Foundation is such a huge help – it offers young, promising singers a real opportunity to pursue their dreams in spite of such concrete challenges.
Do you also want to write songs for other artists? if Yes who and what kind of song is that?
If I have the talent to write songs for other artists, I would write songs for KZ Tandingan. I really love her voice and her style.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
At most current I am in production for One With The Stars but also I am planning on participating in many concerts aligned by KMF and I am a singer for hire so keep it coming!
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
My advise would be to have a clear vision of why he wants to be a singer. To really investigate the pros and cons of having part in the challenging industry of Music. We need to be thick skinned and very focused in pursuing a career. Hone your talents well. Invest in good teachers, be mentored by experienced and nurturing veterans in the field.
Any final message? Its time to shine!!
We are all gifted by the One who created us. It is our responsibility to use what was given to us for His glory. We are ambassadors of music and beauty in our planet. Use our talents wisely to serve others and to be an inspiration and encouragement. I would also like to encourage our readers to continue if you have not started yet supporting the classical singers of our country. We have many talented singers in the nation and I assure you that you will enjoy listening to all of us as we are all unique in our own way and we bring to life the beautiful creations of extraordinary composers. God bless you all!
Thanks to Belford King Mabunga for providing us the photos.