Thursday, August 30, 2018


Last weekend was one of the best I had in a long time - two whole days filled with music and laughter that can be described as truly uplifting - music that warms the heart, and laughter that heals the soul. It was as if every song was deliberately chosen to reflect this twin purpose, from the opening song 'Getting to know you' at the Sunday concert to the fitting finale 'Thank you for the music'.

Day 1 kicked off with a high energy session of Laughter Yoga led by Debbie Rodrigo and her team. This was followed by a workshop conducted by Dr Jonathan Welch. He was specially invited to share his vast experience in working with community choirs.

Listening with rapt attention as Dr Jonathan Welch explained the fine points about singing in parts. 'Do you know if you are soprano, alto, tenor or bass?' he asks.
There is so much more to singing than just belting out a song. I discovered this during rehearsals under the direction of Dr Jonathan Welch.
The Mass Choir at rehearsal. 
I was there on both days and can attest to how meticulous (and insistent) Dr Welch was in ensuring that the choir got the enunciation and the pitch right, down to the phonetics! He said if we got it right the first time, it would be a whole lot easier to get it right every time. Absolutely. He demonstrated the importance of proper breathing and correct posture for singing well. He had such a great sense of humor and made the rehearsals so much fun.

The choir from National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) opened the concert with 'Getting to Know You' and immediately won over the audience.
Credit goes to Cheryl Teh, chairperson and choir director of the Philharmonic Society of Selangor, (affectionately known as The Phil), and her team for the long hours of hard work in putting together such a wonderful showcase of songs and singers that not only entertained but also enlightened. True, everyone can sing, but not everyone can sing like Janet Lee, Elvira Arul or Victor Chua, if you know what I mean. Brenda James-Leong was outstanding as emcee, and so was Nish Tham who provided the musical accompaniment. All of you deserve a standing ovation!
My humble phone camera doesn't do justice to the singers above. Nothing like listening to them live and getting mesmerized by the way they delivered their song.

The Inclusion Choir made up of choir members from the University of the Third Age (U3A) and from Malaysia Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) gave a beautiful rendition of 'Sejahtera Malaysia' under the direction of Dr Indra Selvarajah who is the Founding President of Malaysian Music Therapy Association (MMTA). She also serves on the committee of the Malaysian Society of Music in Medicine (MSMM) at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Next up was Victor Chua. When I heard Victor sing 'There's a Dream' at the rehearsal, I was completely bowled over and was an instant fan! The song has been haunting me since then. Just can't get it out of my head. It's an original song composed by Victor. He sang it at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in KL. This updated version has new lyrics to reflect the hopes of a new Malaysia.

The Phil choir came on after Victor with three songs: 'Wind Beneath My Wings', 'The Moon Represents My Heart' (their first Mandarin song ever) and 'The Journey Continues'. A nice gesture was when the choir sang 'Happy Birthday' dedicated to all born in August.

One problem with video recording at a concert is the obstruction from people walking past or from others who are also recording. I am posting these videos below taken at the rehearsals where obstructions were minimal.

It's amazing after only a few hours of rehearsal, the Mass Choir comprising members from the U3A choir and the Phil choir gave such an impressive performance at the concert. They sang three songs: 'Freedom Train', 'Happy Together' and 'Hand in Hand'.

'Music and Laughter' was another song that I enjoyed learning. The lyrics resonated with me. I understand that the Phil had commissioned Nick Choo to compose the music and the lyrics for the song.

 'Tanah Pusaka' was a timely inclusion given that we are just days away from celebrating Merdeka Day on 31 August. It's a new dawn for the country under a new government after 61 years! So easy this time to sing the song with feeling.

Indeed, THANK YOU to The Phil for the music, the laughter and the joy we had at the concert. One audience member put it so well when she summed it up thus on the Phil's facebook page: "Enjoyed the Phil's 60th celebratory concert. Full of warmth and love."

We echo that sentiment 100%.

As part of its 60th year anniversary, The Phil has pledged to donate RM60,000 to several community organisations. Recipients include Cheshire Home, Hospis Malaysia, NASOM and Perak Women for Women. Another three more recipients will be announced in December. A round of applause for The Phil! You guys ROCK!

A pleasant surprise to see this flashed on the screen in the acknowledgements.
SeniorsAloud team with Dr Welch and with Cheryl
The Phil looks set to getting plenty of new recruits after the success of the 2-day event.
Couldn't agree more with these quotes. Hope the message goes out to everyone that music (and laughter) is the best medicine.

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