UMSO Royal Concert 2007 - Celebrating Love and Life

The UMSO performed last week (1st June 2007 actually) to a full house at the Dewan Tunku Canselor, UM in a royal concert themed "Celebrating Love and Life" with the chancellor, DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah and DYMM Raja Permaisuri Tuanku Bainun as the royal guests. Other dignitaries included ambassadors from various embassies and other invited guests from corporate and educational sectors. Heck! Even the press had at least 5 rows of seats reserved.

So how was the concert? One word sums up the show : LOUD
Don't get me wrong, it was good overall.

Performing a total number of 17 planned songs (not inclusive of the compulsory Negaraku to begin and end the show) the entire concert lasted over 2 hours. It began slightly behind schedule at 8.45pm with the arrival of the Chancellor and only ended at 11:20pm after the encore. Featured songs included 4 medleys of western classics, malay classics and jazz pieces, big-band swing style pieces and rock ballads .... the typical stuff that has been the standard repertoire of UMSO since its early beginnings (CCO-UM anyone?). The nights' performances definitely covered most genres of music.

Featured guest performers included Mus May on vocals, Man Kidal on guitar(s), Razif on the piano, Razak Rahman with saxes and clarinet, Akma AF3 on vocal and Nor Hasmidar with Nor Iydazura dueting on an Italian Art song, "Che vuoi di piu". Also not forgetting the sole UM representative as a soloist, Raymond Yee, who performed the long and technically difficult (for UMSO) piano concerto by Chopin (Op.11 I think .... could be wrong). It was hard to fault any of the performances or the players and soloists who really played their hearts out to the audience which replied with loud applause and cheers.

Once again, the concert was let down by the inappropriate Mubari sound system which was probably more suited for a bigger and open air venue. I'm wagering that the so called "sound engineers" only knows two concepts which is more volume=good and more bass=better. I know this because they sounded waaaayyy better at rehearsals sans any mic-ing or amplification. Mic-ing the bass guitar was also a bad idea .... I lost count how many times the bass line chord went wrong or came in late.

Lighting of the event was better with more control and less distracting although the front throw floodlights were a eff-ing stupid idea (see the pic below!). Every single time a song ended, they flood lit the hall causing my pupils to contract. I'm grateful they did a slow fade to black to allow my eyes to gradually adjust back to the darkness of the hall.

The smoke machine was a bad idea again. Pn Sabariah was totally against it since the beginning of the show (since the previous week at rehearsals) and was adamant at ensuring that it would not be used ..... guess it didn't work. The machine kept pumping out smoke at regular intervals causing the entire hall to experience an early jerebu season this year!! One thing though, the smoke did give a really nice effect to the strobe lights to give the entire hall an ethereal feel :)

The absolute worst item of the night were the video overlays. Song titles were wrong, player names were spelt wrongly and whose idea was it to keep the movie soundtrack ON whilst the orchestra is playing their song? Picture this - orchestra playing the theme from the Armageddon movie whilst the two side projector screens display the movie WITH the movie soundtrack on at full blast. This really spoiled the two songs affected: Engkau Laksana Bulan and I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing. Just plain stoopid (sic)

One final thing I noticed (and should remember to remind the next time) is that when a soloist is playing an instrument, the corresponding mics to the matching instrument in the orchestra should be softened or turned off. During this concert, the sax and clarinet played by Razak seemed to compete with the orchestra's own instruments causing it to sound a bit messy. Solos should be heard OVER the orchestra and need not compete with them.

The night ended with all the guests and the orchestra presenting the final piece, a re-arranged version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Memory which featured all the players in turn at particular points in the song.

Only problem now is how do I get rid of the song Moment of Glory that has been playing in my head the whole week .....

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