Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Voices of Joy

Note: Sorry, as this is a belated post of an event I attended on 20th July 2006.

20th July 2006, Thursday

Hurray, finally the hermit has headed out to town for the night, after long time hiding in her own shell, hibernating. Yesterday night, I went to a charity choral performance (Voices of Joy – Choral Performances by Juvenalia, Viva and Operafest Choirs) at Jalan Imbi. The concert was held at the Auditorium 3rd floor, Wisma Kebudayaan SGM, No. 243 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur (see pic below).

A bit about The Journey

Rushed home straight from work to get ready as a friend will pick me up at 6.30pm sharp. As we are civic minded, we decided to car pool with several other acquaintances. Luckily, I am working very close to my home and it’s just a few minutes drive away - if not, I would not be able to make it in time as I can only pack my bags to go home after 5.30pm everyday. There, this is the luxury of working close to home (flaunting counting my blessing gratefully).

The journey itself was yawn inducing to the extreme, as my friend actually slotted me into a car jam-packed with Aunties. Sigh… I guess that’s the price of accepting freebies (I was only included into this outing when someone pulled-out last minutely with a paid-for ticket).

The yawn inducing conversations throughout the trip:

Aunty A to another Aunty B: Aiyah! You know this daughter of so-and-so-friend ah? She ah very good at dancing one.

Aunty B to Aunty A: Yalah! That’s
why she got such a beautiful body with big boobs to boot.

Aunty C: Her body ah, is that type people called, *bee-waist and **cockroach belly lor! (Chinese idioms: *small waist like a bee. **flat tummy like a cockroach).

Aunty B: Hahaha. Too bad her skin is a tad bit on the dark side if not, then very pretty hor?

Me: -Yawns- (Eyes watering after the countless yawns produced since I came into the car)

Aunty D (the driver): Where are we now hor? Are we supposed to turn into this junction kah? You people please let me know ah! (driving very slowly and anxiously looking for the turning).

Aunty A: Aiyoh! Don’t worry lah! I know the way there one. Lagipun, so many people here in the car to help. –continues with the jabbering with the other Aunties-

Me: -Sigh- Yawwn….. zzzzzzz

And this sort of conversations carries on with a variety of other mundane topics.

The Venue

The lobby was still quite empty when we reached there an hour too early. The show only starts at 8.00pm and we can only be seated by 7.45pm. So, we just stood around at the lobby area waiting for the time to pass. -Yawn-

As I came with the Aunties, I was basically left alone by them as they continued with another round of jabbering with me trying to look not-so-lonely and out-of-place.

And most importantly, about the Choral Recitals


The choral recital was kicked-off by the awesome Juvenalia Youth Choir from Finland of which in my humble opinion, was the best group in this show. Pardon me for my limited knowledge on Choral Music as this was my first experience of one.

I was pleasantly surprised to note that this choral assemblage didn’t have any - or in their case, even need any instrumental accompaniment to sound so otherworldly enchanting. I was enthralled throughout their performance – mesmerized by their perfect blending of voices which filled the auditorium with beautifully pleasing vocal resonance.

Maestro Matti Järvinen’s expression of tempo, dynamics, blending and style of the repertoires was very precise and masterfully delivered.

I am happy to declare that their performance has really made it worth my while -Thumbs Up-

Bits of Intro on the Juvenalia Youth Choir:
(as plucked out straight from the Programme Sheet itself)

The JUVENALIA Youth Choir consists of 32 singers aged between 16 and 26. The choir rehearses at Juvenalia’s premises in the Sello-complex in Leppävaara, Finland. The choir’s artistic director is Matti Järvinen and Anitta Ranta acts as the choir’s voice trainer.

The youth choir’s repertoire consists of medieval and renaissance songs as well as the new music, rune songs and modern music from Finland, Estonia and Hungary. The choir has also collaborated the Eero Koivistoinen, who has composed the works Kökkelö and Suomalainen Sarja specifically to the choir’s order. The choir performs a cappella, without accompaniment.

Juvenalia has successfully taken part in many choir events and competitions both in Finland and abroad, bringing home gold and silver diplomas and category wins as results. The choir has published several records, including Puer Natus in Betlehem and Discantemus.

Ahem, just in case you wondered about the visual part of the show - the members of this choir assemblage was also very much ogle-worthy *wink* (and I did stared ceaselessly to my heart’s content - especially at those cute looking choir boys – forgive me, for I am only human. Ok *grins*. Plus, they all did look like models for an Armani ad in their smart two-piece suit!). Oh! And did I mention anywhere that this was a mixed choir group? Although, it mainly consist more of female than males – there were only like about 10 or so males in this group.

Cappella : Singing without accompaniment


Okay moving on, up next was the group, Viva Youth Choir from Norway. This group’s performance was more on a joie de vi vre note. It was accompanied by the piano, two cellos and an accordion. This choral was largely made up of young junior school kids. Yet again, it was also dominated by females as I have only managed to spot up to like, two prancing little boys perhaps?? Then again, I am not so sure, as this was a large group of about 40-50 singers and I might have be a little visually distracted by all their dancing and formation routines. Yet, I guess we can still call this a mixed group, agreed?

Overall, I felt that this choral did put up a very good show - considering their age. But, I must say that it did sound and feels more like a Broadway kind of show. Alright, maybe some of the fellow spectators actually felt relieved to be entertained by a livelier group after the first choral group – which some may deem a little too rigid and unexciting as their recitals were mostly of their local classical songs (sung in their own tongue too – nope, not in English. I believed it is all in Finnish).

joie de vi·vre (zhwä d v vr )
n. Hearty or carefree enjoyment of life.

Bits of Intro on the Viva Youth Choir:
(as plucked out straight from the Programme Sheet itself)

VIVA is a youth choir with 45 girls and boys aged between 11 and 19 years old. Established in 1968, the choir belongs to Sandnes School of Culture, which is one of the oldest and biggest music schools in Norway. It is recognized both nationally and internationally as an outstanding choir, having won the first prize in Randers International Music Festival in Denmark and awarded the Sandness Community Achievement Award 2005 for outstanding national and international cultural achievements. Viva also won 1st prize in a national choir-competition for youth/adult choirs in Bergen this year.

The choir has performed in various key events, including the opening ceremony of the Stavanger University in the presence of King Harald of Norway, fund-raising concert for the Asian Tsunami victims with top-selling Norwegian artists and as demonstration choir in a choir conductors’ congress in Vasterås, Sweden.

Viva’s conductor, Liv Hugstmyr Særheim, was voted Youth Choir Conductor of 2005 by Norwegian Association of Child and Youth Choirs.


Last but not least, is our home-grown award-winning choir group, Operafest Children’s Choir. This choir group was very spirited and dynamic. It was lead by Maestro Kam Sun-Yoke, the founder and artistic director of this commendable choir group.

This was the smallest group of all, as it only consist of about 20-25 young girls and boys - two of them as young as, let’s say, 5 – 6 years old? And the rest is about 9 – 13 years old. Their repertoire pieces has a mixed of international flavors – from Filipino Folk and Hungarian Dance song to the Chinese Folk songs e.g. ‘Jasmine Flower’ or ‘Muo Li Hua’ in Mandarin.

On the whole, this last group put up a very entertaining show with touches of humor in its midst - even though, it did lack the brilliance of strong vocal and tempo control as witnessed from the first group. But heck, this group did manage to grab the attention of most of the audiences and even managed to get the crowd to join in clapping and singing a few tunes towards the end of the show. All this was quite refreshing after being cooped up in the auditorium for about three long hours - trying hard to sit very still.

Bits of Intro on the Operafest Children’s Choir:
(as plucked out straight from the Programme Sheet itself)

The OPERAFEST Children’s Choir was formed in 1986 to promote the arts and to provide a sound education through music. Little was expected as to what it could achieve. Nonetheless, the vision to acquire artistic excellence never waned, because of the strong bond shared among the children, their parents, and the artistic director, Kam Sun-Yoke. Sun-Yoke drew inspiration from the late, world-renowned opera conductor, Dr. Jan Popper of UCLA, USA, and the then director of the Vienna Boy’s Choir, Dr. Tautschnig, who both convinced her that any project tempered with patience, love and dedication, must succeed.

In 1991, through hard work, unstinting persistence, grit and grind, The Operafest Children’s Choir became the first Malaysian Choir to have won second place in their presentation of Purcell’s ‘Sound the Trumpet’ in the famous Llangollen, International Eisteddfod, Wales, and third place in the Koorfestival of Arnheim, Holland, a choir Olympics held once in every four years.

To date, The Operafest Children’s Choir has performed in Holland, Wales, Spain, Argentina, India, Greece, Macedonia, Australia, Singapore, Indiana, New York and Montana (USA).

Discoveries - Of The Pleasant & The Unpleasant Kind

I really came into this performance not knowing what to expect and was frankly a little skeptical if I would actually enjoy it – and enjoy it I did, with much gusto too (enough to even blog about it – in a long winded way too).

Even though, I did enjoy the show very much but, sadly it was partially marred by two inconsiderate buffoons sitting in front of me who fidgets non-stop and was merrily chattering away throughout the whole show. To make the matter worst, they even have got the galls to sing along a few songs when not being prompted to - I mean it is okay if, we audience are prompted by the performer to sing-along, like in the last act by The Operafest Children’s Choir to get the audience to join in their act to work the crowd. But, singing along when other paying audiences are trying to enjoy the show, was way over the line *shakes fist*. It is just plain RUDE and UNCIVILIZED – there, I’ve said it and I feel so much better now.

Kleio muses “So, let’s let music touch your heart as it did mine, for music is the universal language of peace, love and joy”.

Some Wonderful Quotations on Music:

Nothing exists without music,
for the universe itself is said to have been framed
by a kind of harmony of sounds,
and the heaven itself revolves
under the tones of that harmony.
- Isodore of Seville

The discovery of song and the creation of musical instruments both owed their origin to a human impulse which lies much deeper than conscious intention: the need for rhythm in life... the need is a deep one, transcending thought,and disregarded at our peril.
- Richard Baker

In art, and in the higher ranges of science,
there is a feeling of harmonywhich underlies all endeavor.
There is no true greatness in art or sciencewithout that sense of harmony.
- Albert Einstein

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.
- Confucius

Song is the pen of the soul.
- Rabbi Chaim Drizin

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach

The essence of all art is having pleasure giving pleasure.
- Mikhail Baryshinikov

When words leave off, music begins.
- Heinrich Heine

Music is the universal language of mankind.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Without music, life would be a mistake.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
- Ludwig van Beethoven

Nothing on earth is so well suited to make the sad merry, the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing, to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music.
- Martin Luther

Music is the medicine of the mind.
- John Logan

It is music's lofty mission toshed light on the depthsof the human heart.
- Robert Schumann

A poet must write, an artistmust paint, and musiciansmust make music if they areto be at peace within themselves.What we can be, we must be.
- Howard Swan

"Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings."
- Ed Gardner

I must study politics and warthat my sons may have libertyto study mathematics and philosophy...in order to give their children a rightto study painting, poetry and music
- John Adams

Music will save the world
- Pablo Casals

On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.- Janis Joplin Music, when soft voices dieVibrates in the memory.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley


Gina said...

eh? Saw it in the newspapers over the week. They got good reviews as well.

kleio said...

Yup! saw the article too. And they've got some pics of the Norway and own Malaysian group unfortunately, no pic of my favourite group - Juvenalia Youth
Choir from Finland *drool*