OAKLAND, Calif. – Music and cultural identity came together for Filipino American musician Ron Quesada as he released his debut album that features electronic dance fused with music from the ancient Filipino instrument the kulintang.
“Till the Break of Gong” is the title of Quesada’s album which he said was a project over 20 years in the making.
“When I started playing music my first task was to play guitar, piano and western instruments and then after that I had to find identity to learn what it means to be a Filipino growing up in America,” said Quesada. “And after that I had to learn Filipino instruments including the kulintang and after that I had actually to put in together the kulintang with the western instruments and the dance music into the album so it’s really been a long process and right now that it’s happening I couldn’t be more excited.”
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area Quesada says he made sure that the sound of the kulintang was highlighted and not overpowered by the other instruments.
“My purpose is to bring kulintang to young listeners and I want to bring it to listeners that aren’t necessarily looking for culture, specifically,” said Quesada. “Young people are just looking for beats so by bringing kulintang with the beats together I feel like I’m really fulfilling the mission of bringing Filipino culture to the new ears, to the young people that really need to hear and experience it.”
Quesada’s album release party was attended friends and family who he said has supported him since the very beginning.
“Some of them have seen him growing up and they know his heart is in the music, especially Filipino music,” said his mother Evangeline. “He is very proud of being Filipino.”
“I remember when I used to wake up in the morning to the sound of his kulintang and to see this come to flourishing is pretty darn exciting,” said Ron’s brother PJ.
“I’m just so proud of my brother,” said his sister Susie. “He’s been working so hard and this is going to be an amazing night for him.”
Among the many influences for this album Quesada credits master of music Danny Kalanduyan for his tutelage and passion in preserving kulintang music.