Music Festival 2020

by Athena Siow and Nik Hazeeq

When the word ‘festival’ is mentioned, most of us may think of bright lights, raucous crowds and tantalising food, but the perspective is totally different for the audience who were privileged to attend the inaugural KYS Music Festival in conjunction with the school’s 25th anniversary celebration. It was something more different, something special for the KYS community. The school held its first ever KYS Music Festival from 28 February to 2 March 2020. With five schools participating to make this event a success, everyone will agree that the gala performance was a blast and definitely crafted a memorable experience for both the audience and everyone involved. This festival introduced us to a brand new form of performance in KYS, the KYS Choir.

Fellow music enthusiasts from Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), Tunku Kurshiah College Negeri Sembilan (TKC), St. Francis Institution Melaka (SFI), Malacca Girls’ High School (MGHS) and KYS were there to keep us all entertained. These students had experience with wind orchestra, brass band and jazz ensemble.

On that rather warm Friday evening, the students and staff of KYS excitedly welcomed the participating students who registered themselves for the 4-day event. They were divided into four performance groups: the Combined Symphony Orchestra, Combined Big Band, Choir and Ensemble. The students had the chance to meet each other during a festive “Welcoming Dinner” that was held outside the cafeteria. We shared our experience as musicians and as students in different school settings. After the palatable dinner, the participants returned to their accommodation at Ayer Keroh Country Resort (AKCR) and had some rest for the long days ahead.

We started the weekend with three informative music workshops that were run concurrently! Participants were split into three groups and rotated through three different workshops conducted by experienced musicians. Each workshop was held for 3 hours. 

WORKSHOP #1: CONDUCTING 

Mr. Kevin Field, who was the conductor for the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, conducted this workshop. He taught participants how to conduct different time signatures and showed participants videos of famous conductors. He also included fun games that taught participants how to keep time.

Mr Kevin Field in the Conducting workshop

WORKSHOP #2: BIG BAND

Introduction to Big Band by Mr. Julian Chan, a saxophonist from WVC Jazz Ensemble He enlightened the participants with the components of jazz and big band, style of playing, and the different beats in big band music. He displayed some amazing video examples and also demonstrated on the saxophone. It was sensational!

Mr Julian Chan conducting the Big Band workshop

WORKSHOP #3: MUSIC IMPROVISATION

The improvisation workshop was led by renowned pianist Mr Tay Cher Siang, a bassist Mr AJ and a drummer Mr KJ Wong from the WVC Jazz Ensemble. They taught us how to improvise, and techniques to improve the output of improvisation. At the end of the workshop they called on participants to demonstrate what they have learnt. It was a very novel yet very invigorating form of music playing from what we are used to, which is playing written music.

Mr Tay Cher Siang on the piano, giving our student a chance to practise. The bassist is Mr AJ, while Mr KJ Wong is the drummer (partially hidden).

After gaining lots of new musical knowledge, we ended our day with some sectionals before having a good rest as the next was going to be the gala concert.

The very next day, we had our only rehearsals with the conductors. The Combined Symphony Orchestra rehearsed in the Great Hall with the trainer, Mr. Kevin Field. The Combined Big Band rehearsed with Mr. Julian Chan at the A-Levels block and the KYS Choir with Madam Mary Gan in the Music Studio. Concurrently, the Ensemble group from SFI performed an Outdoor Performance at the Admin Foyer. Their show was spectacular and received such a huge applause from the audience.

After lunch, the participants went back to AKCR as they rejuvenated in preparation for the Gala Concert everyone has been waiting for.

That evening, everyone donned their festival t-shirts and standby at the excel rooms. We had a little time to tune, practice and also chit-chat with each other trying to eliminate the stage fright we were all experiencing. At 8.30PM sharp, the guests and audiences started to move into the Great Hall, awaiting for the commencement of the concert.

The Gala Night started with a warm welcoming speech from the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Prof. Dr. Azizan Bin Mohd Nor. The concert kicked off with a debut by the KYS Choir, conducted by Madam Mary Gan, accompanied by Miss Adrin Teo as the pianist. They performed a medley of melodious songs including You Raise Me Up, which has been chosen to be the KYS 25th Anniversary theme song this year.

Next up, the Combined Symphony Orchestra dominated the stage and performed two pieces conducted by Mr. Kevin Field — Adventure Begins (A World Premier), an original piece specially composed for the festival by Mr. Wesley Wong Kok Leong, performed for the first time in front of an audience, followed by Rangkaian Lagu dari Malaysia, which compiled a few local folk songs such as Lenggang Kangkung, Chan Mali Chan and Rasa Sayang specially orchestrated by Mr. Wesley Wong.

Thirdly, the Combined Big Band took over the stage and performed 2 pieces commanded by Mr. Julian Chan. The pieces were In The Mood, a song by Glenn Miller that popularized the big band style of performance, and I Got You by James Brown.

The closing show was an astonishing performance by WVC Jazz Ensemble. It was momentous! The night ended with a huge applause from the crowd. Back at the waiting rooms, the students were very pleased with the show they pulled off and shook hands that night while taking some pictures for posterity. The participants went back with heavy hearts, knowing that all things had to come to an end and their newfound friends would be departing them the next day.

On the final day, a Monday, KYS Music Festival had its closing ceremony and we had some feedback session with all the participants. We took a picture for the last time before everyone departed back to their respective schools and continue their passion in performing with the brand new harvested knowledge they got from KYS Music Festival. We hope that many more of such programmes will be organized by the school to improve and enhance our school’s music education.

Stay tuned for KYS Annual Concert 2020!

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