Yuletide swing

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 19 Dec 2013

The choir of The Philharmonic Society of Selangor returns to stage for a bilingual Christmas concert.

IT’S that time of the year again where we reflect, rejoice and make merry. So why not put on your best voice and sing along with The Philharmonic Society of Selangor to cap the year?

The community choir last staged a Christmas production almost a decade ago, but come this weekend, the Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor will be filled with enthusiastic voices in Songs For The Season.

The choir will present a concert of seasonal delights from traditional music to contemporary crowd favourites.

From Vivaldi’s soaring Gloria to the seasonal chestnut Winter Wonderland, this year’s repertoire will feature an imaginative mix of Christmas carols in English and Kristang.

Kristang, which is a creole language and classified as endangered by Unesco, is mostly spoken by the Kristang community (mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry) in Malacca.

Cheryl Teh

As Kristang is rarely heard in performances such as these, this bilingual concert is a rare treat.

“Most people enjoy singing and this time around we’ve made it very casual. There will be lots of audience interaction because we want them to be part of the show and get into the festive mood.

For some of the songs, we will have a screen with the lyrics on it so the audience can sing along. We’d like to expose people to many different songs,” says Cheryl Teh, the society’s chairman and choir director.

Members, ranging in age from 10 to 81, have been rehearsing since August to get their act together.

This community choir is made up of youngsters, stroke victims, cancer survivors and senior citizens.

Last weekend, the choir had to attend a “boot camp” to ensure all the technicalities were ironed out. It was song, and a little dance, all the way! Indeed, to add zing to the choir, dance steps and easy movements have been incorporated, making it a little more stimulating for the singers.

“The 10-year-old singer (choir member) has 55 grandmothers to dote on her!” laughs Teh.

“Because we are a community choir where anyone can join in without auditioning, I have to keep the songs simple.

“A lot of them do not know how to read notes so that’s a challenge and yes, they sometimes grumble that the songs are hard but I don’t pull back. In my song selection, I try to be sensitive to all races and religions.”

For a number of the members, this is their first show and they are clearly excited.

Teh, who has helmed the choir since 2009, says, “Singing is an outlet for stress release. It also gives the retirees, especially the empty nesters a good chance to spend time with fellow members, make new friends and learn to be tolerant of others.

“Our society doesn’t have many activities for seniors, so they tend to sit at home and while their time away. If they’re not babysitting their grandkids, they may become depressed. Normally they would be watching their grandkids perform, but this time it’s the other way around.

“The choir is one way for them to do something fun and my way of giving back to society. We’re all volunteers but we want to build a community in harmony.”

The self-funded choir received a grant from Kakiseni this year, enabling it to have added resources. There will be five shows over two days, each lasting just over an hour. Teh will be accompanied by pianist Nish Tham. So, bring your family and enjoy the concert.

“Don’t forget, singing also keeps you young!” says Teh.

Songs For The Season is on Dec 21 (2.30pm, 5pm and 8.30pm) and Dec 22 (2.30pm and 5pm) at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tickets cost RM23 and can be purchased online at www.dpac.com.my or by calling 03-4065 0001.

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Yuletide swing


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