Two weeks, two competitions, two victories ... too tired (Part 1)

This is a very late post ... it's been a hectic couple of weeks with consecutive competitions, both at the public/national level. The first was on the 25th of August which was the Malaysian Institute of Higher Learning Merdeka Choir Competition (Pertandingan Koir IPT) finals held in Johor. We made our way to Johor on the night of 24th August by bus on a journey which took 5 hours ... with 3 long pitstops though :)

Bus trip to Johor

At the Ayer Keroh rest stop. Other pics not shown 'cos too mpssk

We were housed in the new UTHM hostels (Dewasiswa I think ... Desasiswa is the correct one) in different block across the campus grounds. The hostels were apartment styled with rooms for 3 - 4 students each. Some were in apartments with up to 7 rooms whilst others only had 3 rooms. The room I was in was waaaayyy up on the fifth floor. Although the climb was tiring the view was great. We reached at around 1:30am only to find out that UPSI was on their way and were expected to reach UTHM two hours later! With nothing much to do on that early morning we tried to get some sleep before the 7:30am scheduled meetup time to go for breakfast/warmups.

Hostel grounds at night. This is the view from the block I stayed in

Early morning stretches

Pre-rehearsal warmups

Our imported pianist ... yes we're still cursed without an in-kolej pianist even after 8 years

Up the steps to the backstage of the hall

After the quick rehearsal it was lunch time which was provided by the organisers and thankfully this time the choir didn't have to wait for the food to arrive (unlike what happened in Putrajaya)

Lunch time is a public affair

There was nothing much to do after lunch and there was still 5 hours to go before we had to be at the competition venue again at 7p.m. Checkout time from the hostels were supposed to be at 3 but we took a risk and told everyone to get ready for checkout at 4:30 instead. This would give everyone a chance to catch up on well needed rest/sleep. This plan was disrupted by a heavy downpour which lasted the entire night. We ended up having to checkout at 5 and reached UTHM campus again at 5:20. Just in time for dinner and a quick round to warmups and final rehearsals.

Sops in full costume for the final run




Overview of the hall and stage at Dewan Tunku Ibrahim Ismail, UTHM

Entering the hall and taking seats

Random glamour pic :P

Just before the competition began and before the VIPs arrived, the choir was asked to make the way to the foyer for a press photography session alongside the other performers of the night. This was just plain wierd as we were the only choir asked to go out. I did notice some other choirs trying to follow us out (maybe thinking we were going for warmups perhaps?) but were instead ushered back to their seats by the ushers in the hall. Still ... it was wierd exiting and entering the hall later :P

Press opportunity!!

The competition started late at 8:45 but everything proceeded quickly enough because each team only had one song to perform. UM was the second team to perform after UPSI. Eng seong and I had to run for out lives to get from the backstage (where we were doing last minute mic settings and checks) to the hall to grab pictures and record videos)

Backstage shot ... seconds before performing for the competition!

One mad dash later to the front entrance caught them at the entry of the main verse

UCSI were once again at their best with their amazing sops and altos ... this made their guys sound a little weak though in comparison. UKM performed an amazing medley of 5 or 6 patriotic songs very ingeniously blended together. Supposedly they had just learnt the piece in the weeks after the prelims at Putrajaya. Kudos to them for a job well done!

UTM presented a very familiar arrangement of Wawasan 2020 (alongside another song which I forgot) which we managed to confirm was written by none other than their own choir director, the great Pak Herman. Seems that the score was leaked out and Kolej kediaman Ke-4 from UM managed to get the score and performed it in last year's Feseni choir competition. One thing though, you DEFINATELY can't beat the original (ciplak tak best la) and hearing UTM perform the piece was amazing. Comparing them, KK4's version sounded lacking, dead at times and to mechanical.

Ten teams later and after an inspiring and exhilarating performance by the dancers from UTHM, the results were announced ... but this was not before the trophies and mock cheques were paraded in. Everything really had a sense of pomp and circumstance to it (no matter how simplistic it was ... Good Job UTHM!).

Entrance of the prizes

First and second place trophies in gold and silver hues

Third place trophy in bronze hue

Long story short, we won the first ever Inter IHL Merdeka Choir Competition. Second place fell to UTM whilst third went to UCSI. Honestly speaking, I had already surrendered the first second and third placings to UKM, UTM and UCSI respectively and did not expect the first prize at all. Maybe its because I'm so sick of the song ... or we know it too well and we can easily hear the mistakes (there were many believe me, from pitching to tempo mistakes) but I tend to criticise the choir's performance too much. Along with the trophy came a cheque for RM3,500 of which we have yet to see a sen of it. Who knows? We may never see any of it if HEP gets their way. Oh well ...

More press pics ... but never in any newspapers *sigh*

After a final performance of both the songs sung at the preliminaries and finals the competition came to a close with everyone feeling elated and on top of the world. It was 12:30 when we started out journey back to KL by bus. Couple of hours later, we made a roadside stop as we noticed that the UKM bus was pulled up on the side of the dark highway. Upon alighting the bus, it turns out they had a pretty bad busted front tire. Their driver seemed a little blur 'cos he didn't know how to do much of anything about the problem ... 'heck' he didn't even have the right tools on the bus to fix anything. Whilst the drivers tried to figure out the situation, both the choir members from UKM and UM held a roadside concert for the highway ghosts :D

After many attempts and 1.5 hours later, the drivers decided to give up (they had drained the UKM bus' batteries too because their headlights had been on high the whole time). After calling the PLUS RONDA hotline, we decided to give a lift to the UKM team on our bus to the nearest R&R since it was pretty dangerous to be at the side of the highway - especially with the other cars and lorries going at least 150kph and with their bus having no indicator/warning lights.

Its amazing that the UM bus managed to move at all. We were overloaded (Sorry JPJ!!) over the maximum capacity of 40 people OTR. With the UKM team, we probably had around 90+ people on board but a 45 minute trip later, we made it to the Pagoh rest stop at which we parted ways with the UKM team (they made it back later at around 12). After everyone made a quick pitstop, we continued our journey back to KK9-KL and reached at around 6:15 in the morning.

4a.m. at the Pagoh R&R ... and its not out of focus, thats just cold mist!

Everyone just went straight to their rooms/homes cos there was practise later at 7p.m. later that day ... now you know why I said it was tiring.

[End of part 1]

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1 comment:

  1. great post.. reminds me of the good-old-days.. hehe