Bernard Ellorin: Scholar and Teacher of the Music of the Philippines
Bernard Ellorin, Ph.D., Center for World Music teaching artist and board member, is much loved and highly respected as a cultural treasure and leader within the Southern California Filipino community and beyond.
Dr. Ellorin is the leading expert on maritime Southeast Asian gong-chime music in Southern California. He is also a master of the Filipino banduria (a version of the Spanish bandurria, a plucked string instrument similar to the mandolin) and the associated rondalla music. He is versed in the percussion music of the Cordillera Mountains of Northern Luzon, as well as being one of the few Philippine kulintang instructors in the United States. Kulintang is an ancient instrumental form of music played on a row of small, horizontally laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums. Dr. Ellorin has served the San Diego and Los Angeles communities as a performing artist and educator since 1992, and is the musical director of the Samahan Filipino-American Performing Arts and Education Center.
He began his studies in the music of the Philippines at the age of ten, as a young banduria musician with Samahan Performing Arts. At age twelve he commenced kulintang studies with native Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. More recently, he has studied under a number of other master artists from the Philippines, with whom he maintains ongoing professional relationships, thereby keeping up-to-date in contemporary cultural developments.
Ellorin received a BA degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles and earned his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. In 2003, along with a few of his friends and colleagues in San Diego, he founded the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble (PKE), which he now directs. Through PKE, he presents educational workshops for San Diego schools and youth groups. His knowledge and dedication to the proliferation of Maguindanao and Maranao music also enables him to act as a valued resource for many university Filipino cultural organizations. He continues to teach in the San Diego area as a lecturer and faculty member at Miramar and MiraCosta Colleges.
In 2012, Ellorin was awarded a research fellowship under the Fulbright Research and Study Abroad program, during which time he conducted a comparative study on the musical culture of the Sama-Bajau in Semporna District in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and in Batangas City, Philippines. He has subsequently written several scholarly papers on Sama-Bajau performing arts, and also serves as a consultant to Filipino-American diaspora performing arts groups throughout the US. He is now a three-time grant recipient with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) through their Apprenticeship and Living Cultures program.
Ellorin has been a teaching artist with the Center for World Music since 2016, and became a member of the Center’s Board of Directors in 2020.
— Contributor Kim Kalanduyan is Dr. Ellorin’s former apprentice under the ACTA apprenticeship program, and is the granddaughter of Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan.
For more reading about Bernard Ellorin and his teaching, performance, and research:
A Journey Home: Kulintang Music from San Diego to Mindanao
A Career in “Roots” Music from Positively Filipino Magazine