Chance for music talents to dazzle

Chow’s ‘Days at the Pasar’ is one of the two mandatory pieces to be played by the contestants of the Chinese Orchestra Competition 2019 this Dec 13 to 15.

Chinese orchestra players can look forward to pitting their musical prowess at the Chinese Orchestral Competition Malaysia 2019 at the Thean Hou Temple Auditorium this Dec 13 to 15.

Organised by youths of the Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association, it is open to Chinese orchestras and music groups, from private entities and schools. The grand prize is RM15,000.

Organising committee chairman Eng Fwu Ji said five composers and conductors from Taiwan, China and Malaysia would be on the judging panel. Participating orchestras will be required to perform two musical scores each – one of their own choice and another, a mandatory piece by either composers Liu Xi Jin or Chow Jun Yi.

Giving an insight into Days At The Pasar, one of the mandatory pieces, is Chow, a Malaysian, who will be one of the judges.

Currently based in New York, Chow had played with the SMK Taman Connaught Chinese orchestra before obtaining his masters at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington, United States.

“Days At The Pasar is playable but challenging,” said Chow of the eight-minute 205-bar score which has 20 sections and follows a tempo of 108 beats per minute.

The first section begins with a slow and soft introduction in the C major key on an alto sheng (mouth reed organ) to be followed by yangqin, gaohu, erhu, zhonghu, violoncello and qudi. The real melody comes in the second section, heard by the soprano sheng.

The piece eventually builds up to become more expressive and merry.

There will be long solo sections with sustaining harmonies and fast, animated sections in D major, which will require players to lock in the tempo well. Mind, the number of musicians in an orchestra can have as many as 45 instruments to form the wind, percussion, plucked and bow strings sections. So, teamwork is crucial.

Chow said the catch was on the mental strength and cohesion of a troupe.

“You can practise but on the day of the competition, you can still fumble, either out of nerves or overexcitement. So it will be on the conductor to lead the orchestra should this happen,” added Chow.

On how participants would be judged, Chow said flow was a crucial factor.

Another criteria is to be able to play as a whole.

“In an orchestra, it is not enough to know only your part but the other musicians’ parts as well,” said Chow.

Elaborating on the piece, Chow stressed that it was not about the atmosphere but the feel evoked by traditional streets market such as the ones in Pudu and Taman Midah, Cheras, where Chow grew up.

Admitting that he too was feeling anxious about the competition, Chow confessed that he had yet to hear his own piece.

“I am excited to see and hear the different renditions of the piece by the participating orchestras because in music, no two players can ever interpret the same piece of music in the same way,” said Chow.

The competition will have two rounds – preliminaries and finals. Each orchestra group must consist of at least 45 people but not more than 55. The order of appearance on stage will be determined fairly by lot draws.

There will be a registration fee of RM500. Applications are to be submitted to Persatuan Hainan Selangor dan Wilayah (Youth Division) together with cheque, cash, or remittance before Sept 2.

For details, call 03-2274 7088 or WhatsApp 016-227 4206.
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