Written by Ann Aberin (Ricebitz.com, October 2003)
Ask almost anyone involved in Toronto's bustling Filipino-Canadian music scene about Rodney Ronquillo. And they'd give you a whole slew of answers:
"Oh Rodney? You mean the songwriter?"
"Si Rodney? The really good pianist, di ba?"
"RodRon? Oh yeah, the producer!"
But don't be confused folks. Surprisingly, Rodney is all that and more. Songwriter. Composer. Keyboardist. Producer. Arranger. Lyricist. Singer. Stage Performer. Friend. Bubble Tea Addict. Incurable Insomniac. And simply, an All-around Cool Guy.
And the list of artists he's helped is almost as endless. From local talents to across the nation, and even across the seas with the popular singer Jamie Stevens from Cologne, Germany.
This dizzying array of credits seems impossible to have been achieved by someone as young as Rodney. But when you start taking classical piano lessons with the Royal Conservatory of Music at the age of 4, you're likely to hit great potential. That, and being blessed with the much-coveted Perfect Pitch, the ability to recognize pitches without even looking at any instrument. Therefore allowing Rodney to dream up songs and give life to them in his head, before he even touches his piano.
So it comes as no surprise that music became Rodney's life. But all this almost ended, as a career-threatening injury in 1995 had put Rodney away from his passion for almost three months. He had been preparing for his entrance exams at Humber College's Jazz Program, when he almost lost one of his fingers to a physical accident. But big things are meant for this all-around talent. When his injury healed, Rodney turned down the offer to study Jazz, and vowed instead to devote his life to creating his own beautiful music.
And what gorgeous music it is. Rodney's trademark ballads have a romantic purring that FlipTv's Len Cervantes once described as "the close-your-eyes-and-feel-it kind of music." Rodney's keyboarding style is also reminiscent of fellow Canadian David Foster, who Rodney really looks up to. The year 2000 marked a milestone for Rodron (Rodney's producer name) as he released his first CD, Distances, featuring local artists and friends singing his original compositions. He then went on to co-produce a Canadian nationwide compilation entitled Dreamscapes with producer and friend, Jim Stoeber.
In the summer of 2002, he produced and performed for Grace Murillo's CD, Wonderful, as well as became a part of "TW4Light of the World", a World Youth Day CD for the Chinese Catholic community of Toronto. Christina Martin's Welcome the World CD was next in line, completing Rodney's final summer taking the role of a producer.
Soon afterward, he decided to embark on a new direction. This time, to fill the world not just with his enchanting music, but with his equally powerful voice as well. Studying Vocal Science under the tutelage of Diana Yampolsky (vocal coach to the likes of Our Lady Peace lead singer Raine Maida, and I Mother Earth's Bryan Byrne), Rodney developed a voice packed with power and emotion. The audience at the recent Mabuhay! Philippines Festival can attest to this. Rodney wowed them with a moving rendition of his original composition, Rain. You can view this performance on his website, www.rodron.com.
Rodney's musical direction soon took another path after the passing of his girlfriend, Wing Faundo, in April 2004. Instead of focusing on one type of genre, Rodney will be working with an ecclectic mix of Christian and Pop Love Songs, in memory and dedication to Wing.
Next up for Rodney the singer, is some theatre. He has recently played the role of Jesus in the musical The Song of Mark. On October 18th 2003, he held his first solo concert at Heliconian Hall in Toronto's Yorkville area. Other projects on the go include collaborations with Germany's Jamie Stevens. Rodney's long-awaited solo CD will be released sometime in 2005.