Florante Aguilar and the Utom Ensemble

Performance Dates:
June 1, 2019 SF International Arts Festival (Fort Mason)
June 9, 2019 Brava Theater Center

Florante Aguilar (center) and his Utom Ensemble (left to right): Nick Galang, Caroline Cabading-Canlas, Greg Kehret, and Sage Baggot

Florante Aguilar (center) and his Utom Ensemble (left to right): Nick Galang, Caroline Cabading-Canlas, Greg Kehret, and Sage Baggot


Utom, Florante Aguilar’s new composition, is inspired by the music of the T’boli people in Southern Mindanao, Philippines. Awarded as a composition grant by the Gerbode Foundation, Utom will premiere in June 2019 in San Francisco and presented by Kularts.

Utom (oo-tawm) is a musical concept by the T’boli whereby instruments are used to depict the sounds of nature or to describe an event.  As animists, the T’boli believe that everything in our universe is a manifestation of the divine, and art and music are the “voice” of the divine. As such, music is a powerful expression when it comes to narrating  T’boli mythologies.

The composition in eight movements, musically narrates the myth of Lake Sebu’s formation along with the T’boli deities and royalty – Boi Henwu the princess, Kludan, the hunter and Boi Henwu’s servant, and Lemugot, a demi-god sent to seduce the princess.


Featuring Special Guest, T’boli Master Artist: Joel Ganlal

Joel Ganlal. T’boli drummer and flutist

Joel Ganlal. T’boli drummer and flutist

Florante with the Fandangueros

Florante with the Fandangueros

About the Composer

Florante Aguilar is one the leading figures championing Philippine music art forms in the US and international markets today. He advances and popularizes Philippine music through the medium of film, recordings and live performances. His arrangements and compositions successfully craft the right balance between respect and redefinition of a tradition.

Born in Manila, Aguilar grew up in Cavite province where he learned to play the octavina in a rondalla group. By 16 he was enrolled at the University of the Philippines College of Music where he was trained as a classical musician. He later moved to New York under scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music.  He received his Bachelor of Music Degree at the San Francisco Conservatory for Music.

As a composer, Aguilar uses strong Philippine motifs in a modern context. His constant search for a tradition-based contemporary Filipino sound led him to champion harana music – songs used in the now-vanished Filipino courtship ritual of serenading, and the subject of the award-winning 2012 documentary, Harana: The Search for the Lost Art of Serenade, which he wrote and produced with his wife and partner, Fides Enriquez. Aguilar has released several CD albums under the private label New Art Media.

Aguilar is a recipient of Gerbode Composition Awards (2016), National Endowment for the Arts (2014), San Francisco Arts Commission (2009), and San Francisco Foundation (2010).

Florante currently performs with and composes for his ensemble Fandangueros with Chus Alonso (flute & laud), Sage Baggott (percussion) and Greg Kehret (double bass).


Utom is made possible with generous funding by the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.