Image by John Buckingham
Paul Fontelo ’13, of Potomac, Md., has received a Fulbright grant to study classical music composition from leading Filipino composers and musicians at the University of the Philippines College of Music during the 2013-14 academic year. A Filipino-American, Fontelo is also interested in forming youth orchestras in the Philippines modeled after the famous Venezuelan El Sistema youth orchestra system.
“By gaining a deeper understanding on the process by which Filipino composers use heterogeneous culture to write music, my project aims to examine the manner in which music shapes and expresses everyday life in a multicultural Philippines,” he wrote in his statement of grant purpose.
This won’t be Fontelo’s first time in the Philippines representing Holy Cross. Last summer, the music and history double major interned for the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Cultural Affairs section under the umbrella of Public Affairs. Under the mentorship of Harry K. Thomas ’78, U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, he learned the value of cultural exchange and understanding the importance of engaging in global dialogue, he says.
Fontelo is considering graduate school for music or a career in the foreign service, and hopes his Fulbright experience helps discern his vocation. “The field of ethnomusicology is burgeoning in the academic world, but I also have interests in composition and conducting. Holy Cross has helped me keep an eye out in these fields and I’ve been taught to appreciate the combination of the ethnomusicological and composition fields through professors Shirish Korde and Osvaldo Golijov. They’re leading figures in thinking about music through folk and ethnic traditions,” he says.
At Holy Cross, Fontelo is involved in the jazz ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, symphonic band, student-run Alternate College Theatre, College Choir, Schola Cantorum, and is the co-founder and co-chair of the recreational water polo club.
Each year approximately 1,700 U.S. college students are awarded grants through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship program in international educational exchange, awards grants to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Since the program’s inception in 1946, more than 300,000 participants — selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential — have had the opportunity to observe each other’s political, economic and cultural institutions. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.