“Sali kayo please or else madi-dissolve kami”! (Please join or our group will be dissolved)” is not exactly a great sales pitch but the appeal to pity has been working wonders for Forte, the Ateneo Law School (ALS) Music Ensemble. Julian Elizar Torcuator, a fourth year ALS student, is the current president of Forte and even he is surprised at the endurance of a musical group inside the rigorous world of the law school.
“How Forte started is a mystery for all of us current members and even for recent alumni. As we understand it, Forte was started sometime during the early 2000s by some musically-inclined would-be lawyers who wanted an avenue to release the stress that come with the law school daily grind,” he says.
Currently, Torcuator adds, Forte has around 60 members. Most play the guitar, bass, keyboard, or percussion instruments. There are also members who can sing. Anyone can join, from a first year student to a graduating senior. The group is also not exclusive to those who can sing or play an instrument. Music loving students who can do neither help in the group’s operations. Unlike other musical organizations, Forte does not hold auditions.
“We want to encourage both talented and those still developing their talents to perform,” he says. Like a lawyer preparing for a trial, Forte members lay the groundwork through jamming sessions. The diversity of its members’ musical style—rock, metal, jazz, fusion, ballad, and rhythm and blues — result in a music experience like no other.
Forte organizes a show at the start of the semester. Aptly dubbed “First Sem Open Mic nights,” it serves as a baptism of fire for members. “Literally, any one could play,” Torcuator says. The group also regularly performs in bars around Makati City. At the end of the semester, Forte holds a celebratory gig called “Moral Victory” to symbolize the end of Final exam week. “Moral Victory is held in the iconic SaGuijo Café +Bar in Makati City.” A favorite among unsigned bands and independent musicians, SaGuijo is a place where the local music scene is always alive.
“Most members do cover songs but some come up with original materials. Forte members are free to perform any song they like during our gigs but we really appreciate it when members come up with original compositions. It gives an added sense of pride for the organization,” he says. One Forte member who has released his own album is Mateo Escueta, who came out with “Lights Out-EP” in 2015.
Like any school organization, Forte faces some challenges like scheduling practice sessions. The large amount of information that law students need to read and memorize may already drain one’s energy; how much more if one adds music to the mix?
The key, Torcuator says, is to find balance.
“When a gig comes up, Forte members are free to practice whatever day and time their schedule permits. We always prioritize our studies but this flexibility to practice ensures that the dream of becoming both lawyers and musicians is properly balanced,” he says.
While Forte is a relatively young group, Torcuator hopes that it will continue to challenge its members to excel in both fields.
“Forte is an organization that is home to great lawyer-musicians, sending the clear message that pursuing law does not mean the abandonment of life’s other great passions. It is an organization that will continue to give every law student the chance to freely express him/herself artistically through music, one of our country’s greatest liberties.”
To get details about Forte’s upcoming shows, visit their official Facebook page.