The Manila Vocal Ensemble (MVE) was founded on May 6, 1982 at the YMCA Manila, then called the Filipino Coro Classico. The name Manila Vocal Ensemble came about in 1987 when her founding director and manager, Dr. Thomas Villa Cabantac restructured the choir into a small vocal ensemble with a membership ranging from 8 – 12 students and professionals performing choral works normally meant for large choirs. Since 1991, the MVE has added Philippine tribal and regional dances using authentic costumes and instruments to her repertoire – a move which further enthralled her local and international audiences.
The objectives of the ensemble are: to promote the Filipino culture in songs and dances; to promote the Filipino performing art of world-renowned music; to share God's peace and love through songs and dances; to promote Philippine tourism and cultural exchanges; to give free voice culturing lessons to all her members; to give academic scholarship to her poor members, and poor non-members.
Since 1984, the Manila Vocal Ensemble has launched three world and a yearly European concert tour except in 1987 and 2018. During these concert tours, the ensemble has represented the Philippines in an international music festival in Austria, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the United States of America, and Wales. She also has performed for the Diplomatic Corps of the countries it has visited, namely: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Norway; and in different occasions gave concerts in Lichtenstein - a very small country between Switzerland and Austria.
International press reviews have been continuously received by the choir; all of which have the same comment: "you can hear from this formidable small choir a vocal texture that could not be heard from even the bigger choirs. Her interpretation and style do not only appeal to the heart, but also to the intellect." Hence, a standing ovation has been a common response by her enthusiastic and grateful audiences.
Cabantac believes that the music of the choir should not be confined only in concert halls, cathedrals and churches, auditoriums and schools. Thus, he brought the MVE to perform also in the homes for the aged, convalescent homes, homes for children with special needs, hospitals, and prisons. According to him, the music of the choir should know no bounds, except to those who refuse to keep still and listen. It should transcend racial and human differences and discrimination; and should illumine an adamant and apathetic soul to hum its slumbering tunes again. After all, is not music the language of the soul?
In May 2005, the Manila Vocal Ensemble joined the HARMONIE FESTIVAL, an international music competition in Limburg, Germany. This competition was participated in by more than 200 music groups from around the world. The choir won the First Prize in the Folk Dance Category and the Third Prize in the Folk Song Category.
On June 2, 2011, the ten members of the MVE represented again the Philippines at the Harmonie Festival in Limburg, Germany to defend her championship trophy in the Folk Dance Category won in 2005. This time the MVE won convincingly and defended her trophy beyond any doubts by garnering 9-points higher than the 2nd place. Such enormous difference is quite uncommon in any international competition where excellent artists come to participate. Thus, the MVE has set a record in this competition, and a challenge for all future competitors to achieve, even for her.
After six years, on May 28, 2017, with eight members, the MVE represented the Philippines again at the Harmonie Festival in Limburg, Germany in the folklore competition. This time, the MVE did not compete as a folk dance group but as a vocal/instrumental group where it garnered the: "Sonderpreis als am höchsten bewerte Vokal-/Instrumentalgruppe gewonnen" (won the special prize as the highest rated vocal/instrumental group)
Wherever and whoever the MVE performs for, the same quality of performance is given - professional. Thus, the choir has never ceased receiving invitations from all over the world every year.
In this regard, the MVE believes that her noble endeavor for the Filipino people and the world has time and again been reaching its goals. All this is ascribed to God who blesses and makes the impossible possible for the choir.
After a hiatus of one year, the MVE will make her 34th European Concert Tour from March 27 - June 3, 2019.