Chua-ay is based on a popular folksong in the Philippines that depicts the Igorot tribes at work, pounding rice by means of a huge mortar and heavily weighted posts in order to separate the rice grains from their outer shells or husks. The Igorot (Tagalog for “mountaineer”) people live and work in the mountains of Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines. At a population of 1.5 million, they live mostly in sizeable villages and exist in at least ten different ethnic sub-groups. Though known mostly for their immense skill in rice farming, the Igorot (or as they prefer to call themselves, Ifugao/Ipugao) people are also known for their skill in weaving and metalworking.
The piece begins with bird-calls serenely chanted by two sopranos and followed by a set of rhythmic vari– ations on the repetitive three-note theme of Chua-ay. Foot stomps suggest the mortar and pestle action that also enhances the earthy character of this northern folksong.
This edition of Chua-ay is an extract from the larger work Scenes from the North.
Fidel Calalang, Jr., André de Quadros, & Jonathan Mott
The recording attached is by the Corvallis High School Chamber Choir directed by Aubrey Patterson. Here is a link to a video by the same group which shows the choreography: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8YlLhsdcjG_U3lJaDlGdGVzMUE