Why award-winning composer Anya Lagman’s melodies are the anthem of Filipino spirit

Why award-winning composer Anya Lagman’s melodies are the anthem of Filipino spirit


Listen and dance to the symphony of musical prodigy Anya Lagman as she claims her rightful place in the world of music

This is an excerpt from MEGA’s September 2023 People feature.

Printed silk dress by DONA LIM

Amidst the hushed whispers of symphonies and the resounding cadence of musical genius, emerges a young star whose melodies paint the world with vibrant hues of emotion and innovation. 

Meet Anya Lagman, the 22-year- old Filipina composer and multi- instrumentalist, whose musical prowess knows no bounds. 

The first time I witnessed this virtuoso in action was during the Pagsibol Concert, her homecoming to the Philippines after graduating summa cum laude from the University of Southern California (USC) Thornton School of Music. 

The concert unfolded within the walls of the Goldenberg Mansion Cultural Center, the historic guest house that was turned into a presidential museum near Malacañang. 

As Lagman stepped into the stage, she emanated charisma, resplendent in a fiery red terno dress designed by Michael Leyva. It was as if the very color of her attire mirrored the intensity of the passion she poured into her music. 

With her nimble fingers caressing the keys of the grand piano, Lagman showcased her musical prowess with dexterity. Her compositions and original songs flowed like poetry, taking the audience on a journey of emotions. And if that weren’t enough, she breathed new life into Original Pilipino Music favorites, turning them into kaleidoscopic masterpieces.

Printed silk pajama coordinates by DONA LIM


A few days after the concert, I found myself inside Lagman’s home in Alabang Village, Muntinlupa City. Stepping inside her space, it was easy to see how her musical journey began. A grand piano stood in her living room, the very piano where she and her siblings practiced and honed their musical talents. 

Her sister’s passion for the piano, and her brother’s love for the flute—these were the sparks that ignited Lagman’s love affair with music, she says. 

Her parents, too, were musical souls: Her mother is a skilled pianist and drummer, and her father is an ardent fan of ’70s music. At the tender age of four, Lagman’s fingers found their way to the keys, setting her on a path that would eventually lead her to where she is today. 

“In my childhood, I was always surrounded by music,” Lagman tells MEGA. “I think, as a young kid, you’re always just so curious about the world. So, I was very grateful that my way of growing up and exploring the world was through music.”

Eventually, Lagman immersed herself in the world of film scores—it became the conduit that further deepened her love for music. Through film compositions, Lagman says she discovered the transformative power of music in storytelling. 

Each film score she encountered ignited her imagination and inspired her to explore new dimensions within her compositions. 

She fondly recalls, “The film score that got me interested, or at least got me started thinking about what music’s role in films was actually Ratatouille.” 

Lagman adds, “I loved seeing what role music played in it. That was something inspiring to me— that I hope my music can live on beyond the life of the movie and stick with people, and they can place their meaning to it.”

White top and embroidered skirt by DONA LIM


Lagman’s talent soon outgrew the walls of her home. Now, she has already collaborated with prestigious ensembles and received accolades for her groundbreaking compositions. 

Her recent commission titled “I Am Mother” premiered at The May Festival in Cincinnati, while her choral work, “Balikbayan,” earned her the prestigious Peter David Endowed Memorial Award and the Provost Research Fellowship.

But Lagman’s musical path is not just about showcasing her prowess—it’s also about celebrating her Filipino identity. Her compositions are imbued with her roots and heritage. For Lagman, music and life are inseparable, and every note she creates is an extension of her being.

“Personally, the composition is worthwhile and meaningful when I feel it’s most genuine to my voice,” she explains. “And by that, I mean the music is a part of me, and it’s me being vulnerable and sharing myself with the world.”

She continues, “My way of creating music is through interaction with people and with all the things in my life that I’ve encountered. So I make sure to invest myself in it. I feel like you can never separate the art from the artist.”

When it comes to her creative process, the musical prodigy reveals that research is the cornerstone of her musical alchemy. Before she lets her fingers touch the keys, she dives into the stories she wants to tell, ensuring that every note is infused with meaning and intention.

“The most difficult part is always starting,” she chuckles. “It’s always getting that flow and spark, which I think is obviously the case with many composers. But once you have that, you get the ball rolling and just use your intuition and all the inspiration to keep pushing forward no matter how difficult, personal, and consuming the piece is.”

Read more about how Anya Lagman’s compositions echo the Filipino spirit in MEGA’s September 2023 issue, now available on Readly, Magzter, Press Reader, and Zinio.


Creative Direction JONES PALTENG


Beauty Direction MIA CASTRO




Shoot Coordination LAURD SALEN

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