In Melaka, a rural 19th century chapel plays host to the music of Mozart, Bach


Melaka Classics and the VerSeS Music Ensembles will present an a cappella showcase at the late 19th-century Chapel of St Mary in Ayer Salak, Melaka on May 5. Photo: Cassel Krishnan

The historical and sonic allure of Melaka's centuries-old buildings, particularly its churches, provides endless inspiration for Cassel Krishnan, a music educator and fervent supporter of classical music.

Since 2018, the co-founder/director of Melaka Classics, with collaborators in KL and abroad, has organised over 15 classical events at Melaka's Christ Church, an 18th-century Dutch-built Anglican church.

This Sunday (May 5), Melaka Classics will explore a hidden venue with an a cappella concert at the Chapel of St Mary in Ayer Salak, a quaint village on the outskirts of the historic state.

Once again, it will be teaming up with KL-based VerSeS Music Ensemble, which will be touring with the Kuala Lumpur Madrigal Singers and Players.

The performance titled Radiant Dawn, will highlight European sacred music traditions spanning the Renaissance to the 20th century. The 4pm showcase will include masterpieces by renowned composers like Tallis, Byrd, Bach, and Mozart, alongside works by modern luminaries like Poulenc and contemporary composers such as MacMillan.

"Our goal for Melaka Classics was to look out for historical venues willing to embrace classical performances, recitals, and lectures," shares Cassel, noting that the Chapel of St Mary show can host 120 guests, with limited spaces remaining.

"Discovering such a gem of a venue with impeccable acoustics has truly lifted our spirits," he adds.

Scott Woo, artistic director of VerSeS Music Ensembles, is also aiming to introduce this music genre to a new audience, particularly those beyond the Klang Valley.

He couldn't pass up the invitation to host an a cappella showcase in a historic 19th-century chapel hall.

"The programme highlights the evolution of a cappella sacred music through eras, tailored to the venue's acoustics. Selections from countries like France, Russia, and Germany offer insights into their unique devotional music characteristics," says Woo.

The performance at the Chapel of St Mary also follows the typical format of Melaka Classics shows and is open to all.

"We're thrilled to meet new people. Additionally, we're grateful for our loyal audience members who will make the journey to Ayer Salak to attend this event," says Cassel.

The Radiant Dawn performance, featuring Athirah Ibrahim, Chew Shi Yun, Sharlene Rani, Asha Menon, Chow Yee Mun, Darrel Chan, Scott Woo, Serene Chng, Bryan Sim, Sean Chay, and See Tian Xin, will run for approximately 80-mins.

The performance at the Chapel of St Mary sets the stage for the Melaka Classics: Melakan Resonance festival in June, with an array of diverse venues and classical music programmes to be announced soon.

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