“Listening to these preschool tots ages 4 to 6 playing instruments is simply a gratifying experience. They cut such a professional presence at a time when they should be in bed, and showed a burning enthusiasm, dynamic precision, as they struck sensitive rapport among themselves making together as an ensemble, unaffecting and intimate music. Above all, their sense of musicality was superb; it flowed spontaneously with such an appealing charm. ”  Tony Hila, Filipino music critic.

What was totally unheard of before the advent of the Philippine Montessori Center Instrumental Ensemble is the possibility of very young children below 7 years old performing together as a serious musical group. PMCIE, a brainchild of the school’s founder, Mrs. Iluminada Woellhaf, was started in the early 1980’s when the school’s music teachers explored on the possibility of training a small group of children to play intermission numbers at the school’s year-end culminating programs.

Initially, they used Orff Instruments, popular classroom musical instruments developed by Carl Orff, one of Germany’s best-known contemporary composers.  Through the years, as the training became regular and more rigid and the children in response, became more sensitive, adaptable and skillful, the group’s repertoire has evolved from simple improvisations on Orff’s “error-proof” pentatonic scales to a four-part orchestration of mainly classical music such as popular opera overtures, symphonies and concertos.

Members are chosen at the beginning of each school year based on potential and interest in music.  After a short training period, the children exhibit a high level of concentration, discipline, teamwork, and artistic fluency that is remarkable for their very young age. 

Year 2008 was a milestone for PMCIE.  Upon the invitation of the New York based Children’s Orchestra Society (COS), the ensemble performed for the first time to an international audience in two concerts in New York City.

Perhaps, it was the eye-opening wonder of seeing preschoolers perform classical pieces like seasoned musicians that prompted a second invitation from COS. Last year’s batch once again was invited to play with the Children’s Orchestra Society on their 41st Gala Anniversary and 16th Discovery Concert Series at the famed New Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. They were likewise featured in a solo concert together with The Temple Hill International School Marimba Ensemble at Merkin Concert Hall, one of New York City’s finest concert venues.

Looking like toddlers on Merkin Concert Hall’s stage, unaware of what they were getting into, the children easily captivated the international audience with their superb performance. Rising to their feet in standing ovation and thunderous applause after each number, the audience undoubtedly had a one of a kind musical experience and indeed, a wonderful evening with our tot musicians.