Tuesday June 29, 2010
For the love of music
Stories by DAPHNE LING
The Kinta Valley Wind Orchestra will be presenting its inaugural concert this Sunday.
THE Kinta Valley Wind Orchestra (KVWO): Breathing Life into Ipoh City. That’s the tongue-in-cheek, loosely adopted motto of the six-month-old wind orchestra, the first of its kind in Perak. I must admit I had to stifle a giggle when I first saw the motto. It brought back memories of me valiantly trying to blow a clarinet a while back and almost turning blue in the face. All that came out was a miserable “pfffft”. Needless to say, I didn’t breathe any life into anyone that day.
The KVWO is set to play her first public performance this Sunday at the Ballroom of Ipoh Syuen Hotel, and the people behind the orchestra are nervous, excited and honoured.
Unlike most orchestras that only take seasoned performers and/or those with exceptional potential, the KVWO is a gathering of amateur and professional players alike, bound by their love of music.
The response to the forming of the orchestra has been almost overwhelming. By word of mouth alone, almost 70 people turned up for the first audition, and out of that, 50 were chosen.
Funded primarily by the SiWu Education Trust, the orchestra also relies on public and corporate funding, the generosity of schools in loaning their instruments out, and of course, public support in coming to the events.
The SiWu Education Trust, committed to the nurturing of talent and education, was founded in memory of Datuk Lim Keng Kay’s late 19-year-old son.
Datuk K.K. Lim, as he is fondly known, is a philantrophist and music enthusiast. He founded the Perak Society for Performing Arts (PSPA) in the 1980s and now the KVWO.
The SiWu Education Trust fund has funded all the big instruments such as the base drum, tympani, tube and drum sets, music stands and the double bass.
Incidentally, the inspiration for the KVWO came from Lim’s daughter, Pui San, who was telling world-renowned conductor and clarinettist, Eugene Pook, how music had changed her children for the better as she could see an improvement in their discipline, creativity and school work.
Pook, now the conductor of the KVWO, saw music as an avenue for music enthusiasts to gather and share their talent. “Everyone should be given the opportunity to learn. They don’t have to be professionals. So long as you’re passionate and committed, your abilities can be polished,” says Pook.
Among the people who have been given such an opportunity are 18-year-old students Tan Tihn Chern and Lee Wai Keong, both band members of St Michael’s Institution, Ipoh. Tan plays the euphonium while Lee plays the flute. Both hope to major in mass communications while continuing to nurture their musical talent and interests.
“Eugene is very different as he gives everyone a chance to perform. This is my only chance to perform on a bigger stage and I am very grateful,” says Lee.
In Malaysia, accessibility to the arts is often considered an elite privilege as good seats for some musicals can be costly.
“This is a trend and perception that we hope to change because everyone should be able to enjoy the arts, whether young or old, rich or poor,” says KVWO organising chairperson Tan Ling-Li.
The PSPA and KVWO aren’t the only ones with the same vision, which is encouraging.
There is also a critical difference between funding of the orchestral arts in Europe and in Malaysia. European orchestras are funded by the government while here we rely on corporate and individual donors as well as fund-raising events. This is why classical music is strong in Europe where they don’t have to worry about ticket sales.
As a result, performances in Malaysia are more “entertaining, as we have to beg for money from the sponsors and public,” explains Pook. You know what you have to do, don’t you? You have to come out and support our local artistes so they can continue to perform and enjoy their craft.
The performing arts are diverse, with something to suit everyone’s palate. But they are united in that they all have a story to tell in every performance. What you glean from that story is your own story to tell.
For enquires on KVWO – The Inaugural Concert, contact Kum 012-505 8466 / Leong 016-544 2573 / Ong 016-428 8328. Tickets are available from Creative Music ( 05-547 9828), Yamaha Music School ( 05-241 3388, 05-545 5071),The Music Store ( 05-5454 111) and PSPA ( 05-548 7814) .
Man at the helm