Abelardo, Nicanor Jr. - Ave Maria

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year of composition: s.a.

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Composer: Nicanor Jr. Abelardo (1918-1999)
aliases, aka:
Country of origin / activity: The Philippines / USA
Text author: traditional
Arranger / Editor: N/A

PDFMIDIMP3VIDFirst nameLast nameBirthDeathcompID #TitleVoicingInstrumentation
0000NicanorAbelardo18931934  Ave Mariatenor or soprano 
0000Nicanor Jr.Abelardo19181999  Ave Maria  

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A blog entry written by a grandchild of Nicanor Abelardo Jr.
People normally write accounts of their family for various reasons and about different aspects that are meaningful to them. Many times they are simply about their lineage, going down the family tree chronologically or so to speak, other times it goes by things like who meant the most in your life; for me I define my family by the music they make. My family is full of music from the cousins who play for fun, to the relatives who work for others all the way back to the grandparents who composed masterpieces for the masses. Everyone in my family, in one way or another, has had music play a role to them. To me that is how I define the vast majority of my beloved family and how I hope to keep their memories alive; through an art that is awe-inspiring and will be carried out for years to come.

The farthest back I can easily trace back the music in my family, and by far the most prestigious in all ways, is my great grandfather, my mother’s side of the family, Nicanor Abelardo. Born and raised in the Philippines from 1893 until 1934 he became a composer and wrote over a hundred songs, many Kundiman which are traditional Filipino love songs. He even composed the anthem of the University of the Phillippines, “U.P. Naming Mahal,” where he was a composition major. Nicanor came to the United States around the time of the Great Depression and traveled to New York and Chicago but sadly, his music was not as well received due to the stifling times of the country both morally and financially. Though he died young his works were cherished by the Filipino public and he, along with his family, is still honorably recognized to this day.

His legacy was also brought down to his son, and my grandfather, Nicanor Jr. Abelardo who also came to America and eventually settled in Sarasota, Florida after receiving his Bachelor’s in music in Colorado. When he settled down there with his family he would spend his days teaching at the university, his afternoons giving private music lessons and his nights entertaining at night clubs with the bands. Many people, including a large number of members of the local churches, would often ask him for his help in compositions. Without assistance and completely by ear and memory he would singlehandedly transpose the pieces to be performed. In his younger days he conducted his own orchestra. Even with his family of a wife and six children he continued his life of music to provide for them. For each of his children he wrote special wedding songs and marches and for his beloved wife Pacita Abelardo wrote a beautiful piece “Ave Maria” and a love song called “You Remind Me of a Song.” In fact, Pacita was also as much apart of the Abelardo music as her husband. Though she was not as well known and not a prodigy of composition she was a singer when she and Nicanor Jr. met. Through a strange but fateful encounter the two were united when he was in need of a singer, from then on he continued to hire her until the day he proposed.

The Abelardo children kept the music alive during their childhood as well as the family frequently gathered on Sundays after church to play together. As they grew older the music faded away from all but one, my dear uncle Sonny Abelardo. He was an avid drummer and performed in his own band and later went on to changing his ambitions from the stage life to behind the scenes. With no prior education, he rose through the ranks and eventually ended up as well known rock group Toto’s stage manager. Soon after he began to work with acts like Larry Carlton and even Fourplay of who he is now in charge of. After Toto’s break up Sonny was personally chosen by Toto’s guitarist Steve Lukather to lead his solo career as his manager, as he does to this day.
Working alongside Sonny Aberlardo today is his nephew and my cousin Daniel ‘Duckie’ Abelardo. He too is a drummer and helps out on Sonny’s tours doing roadie work like sound checks and setting up equipment. When not busied with roadie work he assists ska bands like his old band Strange Ways. Among the younger generation of the Abelardos he is one of the few left, like with the generation before him, who continues with music today.
An odd parallel to the Abelardo family tree in my life comes my father’s side, the Featherstones. While at first glance none of them seemed to be music talented in any way there is a rather strange and even defining age of music there. My grandfather, George Featherstone, was no famous maestro by any means but with the help and support of my grandmother Avian Featherstone the two opened up a little place called Wonderland Ranch in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada. He was the leader of the group the Wonderland Ranch Boys who were the house band of the place he owned and used to greatly promote the hillbilly music of the time. Many big names helped support them and their endeavors like Andy Reynolds and Ray Price. In fact it is said that he and the boys of his time helped pioneer that little thing defined as hillbilly music.

Finally we are brought back to my immediate family of my mother Paz Abelardo Featherstone, my father Randal Featherstone, and my brother Alec Featherstone. Paz, like her sisters, would play the piano often in her childhood. She also pursued other instruments like the violin and guitar. Unlike her grandfather and father she was no prodigal composer either and has since not played as much as she used to in her career of radiology but she can still pick right back up where she left off on the piano. Randal was greatly inspired to take on music when he was child growing up in his parent’s Wonderland Ranch. He would often play drums and guitar himself and was at one point a member of a band but since his music interest has waned and he has not played for years. Finally, my brother Alec did not pick up on music until he was in his teens and began to take short-term guitar lessons only to end up teaching himself. He played with one of his older bands at the Huntridge before it was shut down and with other bands at smaller time gigs. Due to many issues with band members and the problems scheduling with school he eventually quit partaking in band activities of any kind. Today he still plays every now and then and is gifted in being able to play just about any instrument, however he does not use his talent as often.
Like much of the younger generations of my families I too am no prodigal musician but through other means I hope to keep those memories, and even the most recent ones however small they may be, alive for years to come. My family is full of talent in uncanny places and I can wage my history on the beautiful music they have made for music is an art that can span the ages and transcend generations, with a little help of course.

Page last modified: November 16, 2013