The sound of music

  • Arts
  • Sunday, 08 Sep 2013

Traditional Malay performances, contemporary dance, jazz, rock and 18 mini concerts. Watch them all at the DFP Seni Festival.

ART and culture. What significance they play in the hallmarks of a civilisation. One can even argue the more imbued a society is in art and culture, the more elevated it becomes in the history of the world.

Russia has its ballet, Europe has its opera, Japan has its enigmatic Butoh and we have our asli songs, Mak Yong, zapin, ghazal and the list continues. How unfortunate it is, then, that such beautiful heritage of ours is slowing ebbing away in the high noon of modernisation and as a result becoming less and less important for the younger generation.

“When I bumped into a schoolteacher and her group of students at a supermarket, she introduced me as a Melayu asli singer. The students quickly interjected and asked ‘What is Melayu asli?’ They don’t even know. It’s a sad fact,” shared veteran asli singer Datuk Andre Goh.

Goh is regarded as one of the rare non-Malay artistes in the asli music genre, and his career goes backs over four decades.

Which is why Goh was delighted when the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) contacted him and asked him to be part of their annual DFP Seni Festival, now into its fourth year. In fact, five concerts will be taking the DFP stage from Sept 16 to 22.

Launched in 2010, the DFP Seni Festival acts as a platform for local artists and talents to showcase their talents and it seeks to promote, nurture and strengthen Malaysia’s arts and culture. In essence, it is for the noble cause of bringing the arts to people and making it accessible to them in the hopes of preserving it from decay or waning into the realm of the forgotten.

Malam Melayu Klasik, a concert replete with traditional Malay elements, will kick-start the festival on Sept 16, which happens to be Malaysia Day. It will feature Goh, Haziq, a young generation asli singer and Badan Kesenian Yayasan Warisan Johor, with a soundtrack of zapin and ghazal music.

One of the highlights of the festival is Mak Yong Raja Besar Negeri Ho Gading, happening on Sept 20, presented by the Kumpulan Mak Yong Kijang Emas JKKN Kelantan and Rosnan Rahman, touted as the only male Pak Yong in today’s Mak Yong performances. The saga revolves around the fight among seven princes for the throne of the Ho Gading Kingdom.

Rosnan said that although Mak Yong has been “recognised as a world heritage by Unesco in 2005, it’s sad that the younger generation don’t know anything about it. And it’s also becoming very rare. So, this performance is a good way for the public to get back in touch with the Mak Yong tradition.”

There will also be a contemporary dance performance accompanied by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) called Spectrum on Sept 18.

But this year, the festival has cast a wider net in that on top of the traditional and cultural performances, there will also be two concerts, in collaboration with the MPO, with a rock and jazz theme: MPO Rocks (Sept 21) and MPO and All That Jazz (Sept 22). These concerts will feature some of the country’s top stars such as Ella, Elvira Arul, Atilia Haron and Dina Nadzir.

When it comes to the MPO and All That Jazz show, it’s a chance to catch these notable songbirds on the big stage as they flip through favourites from the jazz songbook and beyond.

DFP and MPO’s director, Carl Selvarajah said the festival, besides promoting and nurturing local and traditional performing art forms, also desires to promote and showcase local artistes. He added that local evergreen songs such as Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s Getaran Jiwa or Tudung Periuk “will be given a fresh interpretation and new arrangements” in MPO and All That Jazz.

The public will also get to enjoy 18 mini concerts, for free, at the DFP lobby for the entire duration of the festival.

These fringe performances will be performed as a run up to the five main concerts, from traditional music showcases, dances to modern contemporary music.

The DFP Seni Festival concerts will be happening at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, KLCC from

Sept 16 to 22. For enquiries, call

(03) 2051 7007 or e-mail Visit the Box Office to get your copy of the new MPO season brochure or download it from

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The sound of music


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