Orchestra playing for worthy causes


The Occa and Illia Show orchestra’s younger members posing for a group photo with their teachers Siew Ngan (third from right) and her sister Siew Wan (fourth from right). — Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

THE Occa and Illia Show is an original, local production that aims to raise funds for communities in need.

It also serves as a platform to inculcate positive values in children and youths.

The musical drama with an orchestra ensemble will be held on Oct 1 at 3pm at Wisma Bentley Music, Petaling Jaya in Selangor.

Mustafa (left) conducting a rehearsal with the orchestra. — Photo courtesy of WONG SIEW NGANMustafa (left) conducting a rehearsal with the orchestra. — Photo courtesy of WONG SIEW NGAN

It is presented by Hearts Symphony Society, with support from Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra Outreach.

“The show aims to raise funds to provide scholarships for some orchestra members and to equip the learning space of a refugee centre we work with,” said Hearts Symphony Society founder Wong Siew Ngan.

“There are two aspects considered for the scholarships.

Charis says learning how to play a violin and ukulele has allowed her to appreciate other types of music.Charis says learning how to play a violin and ukulele has allowed her to appreciate other types of music.The academic aspect is to encourage high flyers and those on the dean’s list to continue their education.

The leadership aspect is aimed at nurturing students to serve the community and share their skills with others.

“We are hoping to raise RM50,000 through ticket sales and public donations,” she added.

Hearts Symphony Society, which is based in Puchong, Selangor, is an orchestra comprising musicians from different ages and backgrounds.

Its performers range from little children to adults, and also include college students, refugees, and children from marginalised communities.

The society’s other unique aspect is that it incorporates Western and traditional music instruments in its performances.

Wong wears many hats as the show’s composer, music arranger and scriptwriter.Wong wears many hats as the show’s composer, music arranger and scriptwriter.Some of the traditional instruments include sompoton, angklung, kalimba, ektara, Thai xylophone, rain stick and bird whistle.

“We’ve been fortunate that many well-wishers and former students have donated musical instruments to us, so those from marginalised communities can play them,” said Wong.

“Hearts Symphony Society was founded in 2009 and was previously known as Amazing Orchestra.

“As a non-profit organisation, our orchestra performs only at charity concerts focused on assisting the needy.

“Our outreach programmes provide children from marginalised communities and non-profit learning centres access to music education and opportunities to perform with musicians at events,” she highlighted.

Wong is The Occa and Illia Show’s composer, music arranger, scriptwriter and one of its music teachers.

Hearts Symphony Society orchestra members demonstrating some of the traditional music instruments that will be featured in The Occa and Illia Show, including sompoton, angklung, kalimba and Thai xylophone. -SHAARI CHEMAT / THESTARHearts Symphony Society orchestra members demonstrating some of the traditional music instruments that will be featured in The Occa and Illia Show, including sompoton, angklung, kalimba and Thai xylophone. -SHAARI CHEMAT / THESTAR

She also roped in her good friend, former National Symphony Orchestra Malaysia resident conductor Datuk Mustafa Fuzer Nawi as the one-hour show’s conductor.

“The Occa and Illia Show is our biggest fundraising project so far.

“There are over 100 people involved in the stage performance and orchestra,” said Wong.

“A number of the musicians are playing more than one role, such as actor, emcee, stage manager, narrator or stage crew.

“Some of the musicians are also volunteer teachers who teach the younger children how to act, sing or dance in the show.”

She said the show’s props were made from recycled materials.

Wong described The Occa and Illia Show as a family-friendly, English-based show.

It tells the story of two children from an alien planet, who after playing a prank, end up going on separate adventures.

They learn about different things like compassion and kindness.

Among the children who will be performing in the musical are Joyce Chong Jing Jing and Charis Chong Zhi Yin from Rumah Charis, a home for underprivileged children and orphans.

They also take music lessons at Wong’s music centre as part of the society’s outreach programme.

Joyce, 11, who will be playing violin and also acting in the show, said: “Acting is scarier because it’s something new to me.

Lim, 20, is one of the orchestra members in the upcoming The Occa and Illia Show.Lim, 20, is one of the orchestra members in the upcoming The Occa and Illia Show.“I prefer playing music as part of a group (rather than solo) because it’s scary playing alone.

“Music makes me happy. I started learning violin when I was five, and later the ukulele.

“But my lessons got disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and I resumed lessons only last year.”

Joyce’s twin sister Michelle Chong Teng Teng is also in the orchestra.

Charis, 14, recalled that it was difficult learning how to play a violin at first but she soon started enjoying it and now makes an effort to practise regularly.

“I like my teacher Lim Jinnie, because she is patient and not fierce.

“Learning how to play a violin and ukulele has allowed me to appreciate other types of musical instruments,” she said.

Mustafa said being able to work with the society’s performers had been wonderful beyond his imagination.

“I love to share my experience. I feel blessed to be able to give back to society, especially by guiding this group of talented children,” he said.

Joyce will be playing violin and also acting in the show.Joyce will be playing violin and also acting in the show.“This is my first time conducting a musical where many of the orchestra members are children.

“So I have to remind myself that children make mistakes and my job is to help, teach, motivate and show them the correct way,” he added.

Both Mustafa and Wong said preparing for the show had been a humbling and learning process for them, as they also learn things from the children and how to work together to solve problems.

For ticket purchase, visit padlet.com/siewngan/the-occa-illia-show-7pkcfw8366gtrzfk

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