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Music from the heart

His musical journey started with mandatory piano lessons at four years old. At 9 years old, he became the pianist at St. Lorenzo’s Children’s Choir. Then, at 18 years old, when he began to gain skills in it, he fell in love with music. Whacappela adviser Justin Panlilio has a vibrant musical background and continues to enjoy it to today by producing it.

Panlilio had an early start to music. By playing gospel in St. Lorenzo’ Children’s Choir, Panlilio was motivated to continue on with his music. He then began to teach himself how to play the piano.

“For my earlier years, it was like I was put into piano lessons, and [I] just [ran] through the motions. I wasn’t really into it, but when I was 18, I started to fall in love with it because I started getting skilled, and I started teaching myself. I think what really kept me in it was gospel music,” Panlilio said.

Panililio is the piano accompanist for the St. Lorenzo’s Children Choir. He is now in his third year in the Walnut Valley Master Chorale as a tenor singer. The chorale performs songs from a variety of genres including classical, pop movies scores, among others.

“My favorite thing [about performing with the chorale] is learning music,” Panlilio said. “Music is a lifelong skill. I can always get better. You have to be passionate about it. With sports, you get old, and you can’t play basketball your whole life, but with music, as long as you got your fingers, you’re good.”

As a Beatles fan, Panlilio’s lifelong goal is to memorize all their songs he has managed to learn 150 so far. Panlilio refines his sight reading skills so that he can appreciate and cover his favorite songs.

“You learn from covering music, that’s how you eventually write your own music, by getting inspiration from what you like and mixing them all together to put your own twist on it. A fusion of all your influences is going to eventually manifest itself when you write your own music,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio’s favorite music genre is Rhythm and Blues (R&B). His love for this genre caused him to write a Hip-Hop album and co-write a Reggae album. While the Reggae album mainly deals with love, the Hip-Hop album, titled “Juice Again” and released in 2008, was a way for him to relax.

“R&B comes from the soul, it comes from passion. It’s rhythm, and the blues part is like ‘what are you ailing about,’ and that’s what the music is about. It’s about what’s making you sad, what’s bothering you, and it helps you vent,” Panlilio said. “Hip hop was my first love, and it’s like a subgenre of R&B.”

By Nicole Chiang, News editor 

Photo by Airi Gonzalez