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Making Symphony Music 'Captivating' To Malaysian Ears

Last update: 16/04/2009
News Pic
BUDDING ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS... The MPYO, comprising 100 talented youths short-listed at talent-scouting sessions held in 2006 and 2008, is exposed to classical symphony music and is guided by MPO professional musicians. They first performed at the Petronas Dewan Filharmonik in August 2007, and subsequently travelled to Penang, Perak, Pahang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. Pic courtesy of Petronas
By Nurul Halawati Mohd Azhari

KUALA LUMPUR: (Bernama) For students Wan Mohd Zahid Muhamad Nasir and Ahmad Khairul Fahim Arif, they might have never heard of the great Russian composer Modest Petrovic Mussorgsky.

The fifth formers of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sri Mulia, Bandar Tun Razak are not even among the fraternity who love symphony orchestra music.

However Mussorgsky, a name from the 18th century classical music era, had etched his 'essence' into the soul of these two schoolboys.

Despite hearing the name of this great Russian classical music composer for the first time, Wan Mohd Zahid and Ahmad Khairul Fahim; fortunate as the duo, are among 1,300 students picked to relish Mussorgsky's compositions via the MPO Schools' Concert, held at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in KLCC.

The performance on the legendary composer's classical music works is among the itinerary in the 'Encounter' calendar.

An ensemble orchestrated by MPO conductor Kevin Field performed this symphony orchestra, themed 'Moving Pictures'. The concert was more exhilarating as it combined both the musical and visual portrayals.

According to Field, Moving Pictures is an amalgam of Mussorgsky's 'Night on a Bald Mountain' and 'Pictures from an Exhibition'.

'Pictures from an Exhibition' is another masterpiece by the great Russian composer. It is a remembrance of artist and architect Viktor Hartmann who died at the young age of 39.

The composition is a famous suite in 10 movements composed for piano by Mussorgsky in 1874. (A suite is a collection of short musical pieces, which can be played one after another. The pieces are usually dance movements and the French word 'suite' means ' a sequence of things').

'Pictures from an Exhibition' is acknowledged to be Mussorgsky's greatest solo piano composition.

"In this concert, Mussorgsky's composition came alive, accompanied by 51 art pieces from Malaysian students. This was where the students showed their imagination by painting the respective theme given," Field said.


It is not easy to attract the students' interest by means of classical symphony music. What is being done by MPO is a huge step towards making classical music 'captivating' to Malaysian listeners.

Before the concert began, members of the audience were introduced to the various musical instruments and how they sound. This was to enable them to picture the storyline while listening to the music.

For teacher Zuraidah Abdullah, the concert was an opportunity for students to get the feel of orchestra music.

In the meantime, the painters were able to display their talents on the canvass while appreciating Mussorgsky's effort. As for the audience, they were treated to both the music and visuals.

This was where the music acted to stimulate the mind, and at the same time behaved like a therapy that rejuvenated the body.

For that, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) created the 'Encounter' programme that comprises visits to residents of welfare and old folks homes, orphanages as well as patients and inmates at drug rehabilitation centres in an effort to bring classical music to the people.


According to Juniwati Rahmat Hussin, who is the MPO's chief executive officer until March 1, 2009, the Encounter programme is a serious effort to streamline the interest of the younger generation in symphony classical music with that of the mainstream music.

Among Encounter's efforts is to organise symphony music concerts for primary and secondary schools as well as institutions of higher learning.

The concerts are fun and interactive, she said.

Apart from getting the collaboration of the Education Ministry in holding the classical music workshops and concerts, Encounter also obtained assistance from local composers who re-arranged the local folk songs like Rasa Sayang, Suriram, Can Mali Can, Jambatan Tamparuli, Tanah Pusaka and Puteri Santubong into symphony adaptations.

"This is among the measures to make the younger generation to be more in tune with the symphony versions of the local folks songs," said Juniwati.

She said 'Encounter' also opens up the opportunity for the younger generation, particularly the students, to know more about MPO.

Juniwati said the actual intention of 'Encounter' is to promote symphony music among the various levels of society through a fun way.

Among MPO's other programmes are the staging of instrumental music lessons and appreciation sessions.

"The response is encouraging. Since its inception 10 years ago, MPO has drawn the participation of more than 5,000 musicians and students. The Encounter's programmes also involves 150,000 people in schools, universities, hospitals and welfare homes nationwide", she said.


After 10 years of Encounter, MPO is now ready to establish the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO).

Juniwati said 100 youths had been short-listed at talent-scouting sessions held in 2006 and 2008.

"The MPYO is exposed to classical symphony music and guided by MPO professional musicians. Their inaugural performance was at the Petronas' Dewan Filharmonik in August 2007.

"They have also performed in Penang, Perak, Pahang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak," she said.

Juniwati said the Encounter's programmes are to encourage parents to expose orchestra music to their offspring apart from informing them that it is also a career-wise venture.

"Via Encounter, we provide a platform for those who are interested in arts and music management. Encounter also offers apprenticeship/internship programmes in collaboration with tertiary education institutions like Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), University College Sedaya International and Universiti Malaya (UM).

From MPO's efforts to improve the community's awareness and understanding on symphony orchestra music, the MPO has successfully created a networking on career opportunities for the younger generation.

This is not only to fulfil the inspiration of budding orchestra musicians but also an effort to make symphony music one of the music of choice in this country.