Saturday, December 17, 2016

It has always been my dream to play in the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) since young.
Yes, it's one of the top youth orchestras in the country, coached by professional musicians that a lot of music enthusiasts fall head over heels for it.
However, I started to play non-orchestral music instrument when I was a kid and it's very competitive to secure a spot in MPYO, especially for that non-orchestral instrument which almost everyone knows how to play.
Therefore, I finally picked up an orchestral instrument - flute, during my final year of high school.
That did not able to get me into the MPYO yet I was very fortunate enough to play in a symphonic band that eventually leads me to opportunities to play in orchestras.

Few years ago, I picked up the double bass in the university when I was very active and spearheaded the orchestra.
There was no music faculty in my university.
As an orchestra fanatic, I was kinda devoted to the symphony orchestra club in my university.

Many people has been asking me why double bass? (Why did I ditch my flute?)
Well, it started with a very simple reason, or rather circumstance: I was organising an orchestra concert and it was very difficult to get enough double bass players to play for the concert. So I decided to fork out my own pocket money and look for private teacher in order to pick up the double bass in short period of time, so that I can help out on the balancing of the orchestra.
3 years ago, I was very lucky to get through the audition and played in the YMGC orchestra under the baton of Mr. Kevin Field.
Mr Kevin Field was the first resident conductor for the MPYO since its inception for more than 7 years.
I was congratulated by my friend, who was the MPYO concertmaster at that time when I was listed in the MPYO's player list.
Surprised yet unbelievable - I was recommended by Mr Field.
Yet, I wasn't able to make it as it clashed with my university's final exam and I was in the midst of competition that I couldn't commit for the MPYO camp - it was too late for me to make arrangement when the MPYO management officially contacted me.
I heard no news from the MPYO management since then and I thought I'd never able to play in the MPYO anymore.

Miracle happened! (thanks to my former YMGC orchestra mate)
I received an invitation to play in the MPYO!
The offer came just right in time as I just resigned from work and able to commit to the intensive orchestra camp.
Yeah, it was an intensive sectional + tutti rehearsal where we spent almost 10 hours per day during the camp.

view from the suite that we're staying in the city centre

Double bass section
Some behind-the-scene photos...

Margaret, from SNYO
my double bass tutor, Wolfgang Steike

And here are some photos taken after our Merdeka Award night event...
Xinyi, the percussionist (fellow SPO) haha

Where's Aishah........

Conductor of the nights, Julie Debordes

So grateful and privileged to learn and play with the inspiring and aspiring musicians; well-spent December!

MPO & MPYO side by side concert (last MPO concert of the year)

Oh and... Merry X'mas! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

See you again...

that's my mentor, Pn Leong

2007 Choir Party

She's the one who touched and transformed my life.
I first met her in the school office and discussed about the transportation to the Solo Music Instrument competition which my school registered for me; she was the teacher-in-charge to send student for the competition.
We didn't talk much as I was a very shy and reserved student.
I happened to emerged as the 2nd runner-up (oh yes, the Harmonica world champion was the 1st runner-up) in that competition and was required to attend the Awards Night.
During the awards night, she spoke to my father and mentioned about establishing choir team in school.
I accepted the opportunity to be the pianist for the choir establishment.
My secondary school was a fairly new school where I am in the pioneering batch; it was just about 2 years old.
The plan started to roll out and we had our very first performance on stage in 2004 for school awards ceremony upon recruiting the members.
There was about 30 choir members.
Yet, joy of music under her tutelage attracted more students and the response of recruitment and audition was getting better year by year.

Things got more excited when she told us about the annual choir competition.
Together we geared towards the competition while prepare for the adhoc performance requested by the school.
Regular weekly sectional practices, laughters, learning and love for music - things we indulge in school right after our classes.
As hectic as some may regard, it was a fulfilling and satisfying growing journey.
Yes, together we grow.

my 1st time conducting during competition
Under her guidance and visionary leadership, we had a stellar progress year by year:
2005 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: 3rd runner-up
2006 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: 2nd runner-up
2007 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: Champion +
Secondary School Choir Competition State Level: 2nd runner-up

.. that's all?
Not quite, there's a long list of achievement in fact (click on the photo below!)
click to view

Happiest moment?

Together we we awarded as the 3rd runner-up during our debut competition in 2005! (that was the 1st time we put on the customised costume that was made just right in time)

Unforgettable moment?

Appeared as the 2nd runner-up in the district level where we got to compete with the renowned national choir champion!
Eye and ear-opening competition I must say. It was so close~

woohoo.. we did it together!
2011 Choir Party

2012 Choir Competition with alumni

Most challenging moment?

Had to arrange for the accompaniment of a patriotic song during Chinese New Year where I spent days in my teacher's house, cracking my head to draft for it and transcribe it into the computer (nicely re-arranged by Dr Chan) so that the members can get their respective parts in a good-looking score when all of us returned to school from the CNY holiday. Oh I learnt from scratch about the music notation software, thanks to this life-changing experience.

Choir 2005 - pioneer batch

Most exciting moment?

Rehearsed together with the teachers from other schools for a ceremony (I can't remember what event was that). It felt so honoured (and frightening) as I was the only student considering all of the people around me are school teachers.

Most touching moment?

Nah. There was no most touching one but there were so many that the answer must be in plural! Besides music, she likes to share her life stories e.g. family, school, teaching with us by weaving some of the life lessons into the music. Not only we got to understand and interpret the songs better, most importantly we enjoy while singing!
She's not a full-time choir coach but also a science subject and disciplinary teacher. Regardless of her hectic schedule, we had block rehearsal schedule even when she was pregnant that time. Did I mention that he's a mother of 3? We were so worry that she was spreading herself too thin but being pregnant was never an excuse and didn't stop us for having intensive practice, even during school holiday!

Most heart-breaking moment?

The time when I got the news where she had a stroke! Oh my, she also lost one of her eyesight due to overloaded and that news spread so quickly among us (even some of us were graduated that time). Thanks god, she recovered from the mild stroke and regain her eyesight after recuperation. Phew...

Being an ordinary piano student like most of you do where we usually have one-to-one class, I never thought that I can learn and do so much in choir.
She, who treated me and everyone of us like her own children.
She is Puan/ Madam Leong Ngan Ping.
She, who touched so many hearts is still soo deep down to earth and humble even after so many years.
It is her 27th year of teaching in 2016.

Teamwork, perseverance, servant leadership, musicianship, consistency, dedication, hard work, responsibility, integrity, compassionate etc. are all I learn throughout the years in choir.

down the memory lane (pioneer batch photos missing :P)

Merriment, Memories, Mirth (and awards) - our secondary school life.

Thank you Puan Leong Ngan Ping (and Dr Chan Cheong Jan)!

Have a fantastic time in Japan and we will miss you :')

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

this is not a real photo of Mr Anonymous
It was a chilly night at a foreign land.
I was trying to figure out the way to operate a washing machine at a self-laundry shop with my parent.
There was a guy staring forlornly at the corner of the shop.
Self-laundry shop is not common in Malaysia.
This guy who dressed in ripped clothes walked towards us from the corner and taught us how to use it.
He even gave us some tips to get to know the machines prior to utilising it.
He's a beggar, he told.
Yet he is a regular visitor at this shop.
Despite general perception of beggars are dirty, he do take care of his personal hygiene.
"Where are you from?", he asked.
We began to chit chat while we were waiting for our clothes to be washed and dried.
"Did you see the bento over there? I use to eat at here and throw it over there," he pointed at the dumpsite.
He began to share his story of daily (working) life.
There was laughter during the conversation.
"I was convicted and sentenced to jail - framed by my friend", he uttered.
Friends. With a tinge of disappointment and sadness, he continued "I was not liked by the employers. Do you know why? I don't have my identity card anymore."
The employers didn't want (and some dare not) to employ him.
He shared that he had a short stint after jail yet he was discriminated and being accused for wrongdoings that he did not commit.
Employment is more difficult when he's not in the city.
"I had no choice but to beg for money."
"I like to clean up myself daily but I cannot look decent when I'm at work - others will not bother to donate to me".
He then showed us how he will groom himself when he needed a place to sleep during winter; he sleeps at pavement when the weather is bearable.
"The rental cost over here is too expensive, I can't afford it".
He then showed us a bag of coins - his only treasure.
The drying machine stopped and he took his clothes.
"It has been raining these few days and it is really very cold, I only had this to keep myself warm," he smiled while telling us and wore the jacket.
As soon as he folded and packed his clothes in a small bag, he left.

I like to listen to stories. Never thought that I'd be able to learn and listen such sad sharing from an anonymous who is being despised and rejected by most of the people. Beggars are human too - they ought to be treated by respect.

Thank you Mr. Anonymous. May you have better new year ahead.