A symphonic twist in celebrating traditional music legacies

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 07 Mar 2024

Guest vocalists (from left) Asmidar, Haziq and Yusni taking on the traditional favourites at the 'Simfoni Budaya: Keroncong And Ghazal' show at the DFP last Saturday. Photo: MPO

In a captivating concert, classical music and traditional Malay music seamlessly merged on the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) stage last Saturday, giving the 800-strong batik-wearing crowd a night to remember.

The Simfoni Budaya: Keroncong And Ghazal show, a pet project for Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) conductor Ahmad Muriz Che Rose and his team of song arrangers, was a chance for the classical concert scene here to open up its repertoire, embracing the delicate sway of keroncong and the rhythmic allure of the ghazal genre.

On the night, Ahmad Muriz, along with eight traditional musicians, took their places in the centre of the stage. The group's instruments, which included a gambus (lute/oud), gendang (drum), tabla and harmonium, were in the spotlight for the audience to see.

The full orchestra, behind them, blended the intricate nuances of Western classical compositions with the emotive melodies and intricacies inherent in these traditional Malay music genres.

Ahmad Muriz spoke briefly about celebrating the beauty and diversity of both classical and Malay musical legacies, hoping to inspire similar shows in the future.

"This is a lyrically beautiful show, we hope to rekindle the love that people have for these songs," he said.

Simfoni Budaya: Keroncong And Ghazal served as a good starting point, with hints there will be other traditional music and orchestral events on the cards, starting with the DFP Seni Festival series in July.

Last Saturday, Ahmad Muriz was aiming for a transcendent experience, and he had three wonderful guest vocalists to help light up the show.

For a lovely keroncong breeze, traditional pop singer Asmidar, 37, opened the night with songs such as Sayang Di Sayang, Melati Di Tapal Batas, and Puteri Ledang.

Haziq Rosebi, 36, the youngest of the bunch, followed on, delivering a soulful selection, including Pak Ngah Balik, Payung Mahkota, and Ambang Sore.

Datuk Yusni Hamid, a familiar face on the DFP stage when it comes to traditional evenings, showed her breathtaking class with tunes such as Sayang Musalmah and Musalmah Manis. The 72-year-old veteran entertainer, who can sing in several languages, elevated the night's experience with a playful Mandarin medley – Moon Represent My Heart and Tien Mi Mi, delivered keroncong style.

After a quick intermission, the three vocalists then shared the stage and romped through a delightful list of classic tunes, with the famous Lemak Manis closing the show.

“Hopefully, everyone had a blast. While such arrangements and compositions are not unheard of, I really wanted to explore these old genres, giving them a fresh new orchestral setting,” said Ahmad Muriz during a post-show interview.

"I'm a fan of keroncong and ghazal, and I wanted to have a good balance for this show, without the orchestra overpowering things. I also learned from the vocalists, taking cues from the way they sang these classics, with all their nuances and warmth. We made sure we kept the audience connection throughout this performance," he added.

Next up at the DFP is "The Classics In Pops" show happening on March 16. More info here.

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MPO , Keroncong , Ghazal , Classical , Music , Traditional


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