Rogelio "Jun" Peñaverde Jr. is a crossover artist par excellence. By definition, a crossover artist must be someone who has professionally performed operatic roles or oratorio solos while concurrently performing pop music.

The Filipino artist moved to the US to pursue a scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music in NYC for a Master's Degree in Voice. The New York Times praised his "sweet sound" while Opera Magazine lauded him as an "incisive tenor."

He has performed at the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts; the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, the Manhattan Center and the Cultural Center of the Philippines(CCP).

A crossover artist like Rogelio Peñaverde Jr. is someone who has performed operatic roles while concurrently performing pop music.
A crossover artist like Rogelio Peñaverde Jr. is someone who has performed operatic roles while concurrently performing pop music.

During the pandemic, Peñaverde rediscovered his passion for songwriting, which led him to become a serious creative director. Peñaverde is the first Filipino to play a full set of his compositions entitled, "Pearl Drive Project" at the iconic Mercury Lounge in NYC. It is the same hall where Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran performed.

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Peñaverde will do a crossover performance on September 15, 6 p.m., at the CCP Main Theater, titled "Minamahal Kita: The Art of Filipino Love Songs ( A Tribute to the 2022 National Artists )." It will also feature Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines (FCCP) Scholars.

The show was conceptualized by Peñaverde and produced by the Friends FCCP under the leadership of its president, Martin Lopez. The gala is part of Peñaverde's advocacy to present quality performance of Philippine music here and abroad that educate as much as they entertain. Proceeds will go towards funding the tuition or travel expenses of the 26 FCCP scholars studying in local and foreign schools.

Culture Carousel recently interviewed Peñaverde and here is part of that interview.

What encouraged you to become a crossover artist?

Actually I have always been a crossover artist in that I have always sung different styles of music professionally, from classical to pop. Since most of my performances were in the classical field, however. I have come to be identified as a classical singer and decided to market myself as so.

I decided to promote myself as a crossover artist after writing my pop anthology, the Pearl Drive Project, during the pandemic of 2020. Seeing how it was so well-received by the New York audience, I figured it was worth exploring the depth of mark I can create in the pop music scene concurrent with the path I continue to carve in classical singing.

When you opted to diversify your artistic talents and turn to composing, what were the challenges you faced during this transition?

There is really only one challenge I can think of and that's audience perception. Since I have been identified as a classical singer for most of my performance career, it was difficult to present myself as a singer-songwriter of pop music without confusing my audience.

To address this, I took on a pop alter ego — Ilustrado. Now, whenever I market myself as Rogelio Peñaverde Jr., one can assume that I will be performing in a mostly classical style, though I'm using the term loosely since this will usually involve some musical theater and timeless standards singing, too. When I market myself as Ilustrado, then you can be sure that I'm performing pop songs — mostly my original compositions — straight through.

Among all the projects that was presented to you, what made you decide to work with the FCCP for the September15 show?

Aside from being a good friend, Martin and I have been staunch advocates for the quality performance of Philippine music for a long time now. During the pandemic, when he asked me to sing for the premiere performance of Minamahal Kita, which was an online show of kundimans produced by the Far Eastern University, I gladly agreed and was happy for its successful and warm reception. When he approached me again to ask whether I'd be interested to do something like it live at the main theater lobby of the CCP under the production of the FCCP, I immediately answered yes and requested that we expand the repertoire to include different song forms. The September 15 show will therefore be a montage of different Filipino love songs that have been artfully crafted-from kundimans, to songs inspired by dance, to works written for theater, and even to OPM's.

How does an artist maintain his passion, integrity and happiness during these challenging times?

Personally, I maintain my passion as an artist through the constant acknowledgement that I'm simply an instrument, and that any spark, urge, and inspiration to make art is a call to co-create with the Divine. My integrity is anchored on truth and beauty, and all my artistic expressions are ardent albeit humble attempts to reflect both. My happiness is found in my selfless and meaningful service as a faithful instrument to God who drew me out of nothing, made me in His own image and likeness, loved me and called me to this blessed profession of the arts.

For more information on Minamahal Kita: The Art of Filipino Love Songs, visit the Facebook page of the Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines.