Two weeks, two competitions, two victories ... too tired (Part 2)

One week after the MOHE Inter-IHL competition was the Malaysian Youth Orchestra Foundation 2007 Malaysian Youth Music Festival. The event was held at the Palace of the Golden Horses and garnered over 400 entries (majority in the piano categories though). The place was packed with kids, teens, adults and parents all over the place.

Winning pose on stageWe sent two teams in; XUM and UMRC (or internally known simply as Team A and Team B ... alongside Teams N and X) and presented a total of four songs. Both teams comprised of students from various kolej-es in UM. As luck would have it, XUM was the first team to perform on that afternoon's competition against 8 other teams (not counting UMRC of course) and included groups from Young KL Singer's and Klang Chamber Choir. We sang two songs, Belaian Jiwa and Ice Kacang whilst UMRC sang Out of my Head and Obladi Oblada. UMRC was the fourth team to perform their set. I'm not counting the YKLS performance as the first because I'm still not sure if they were under the same category as us or not because they had far less people than us and were actually entered under the small ensemble category instead.

Surprisingly (and really honestly) XUM won first place and UMRC won third place in the competition. This time round I would have willingly surrendered the placings to the Klang Chamber Choir which was really well polished or to the Green Meadow Theatre Troupe which performed their set really well ... and they were kids probably not more than 12 years in age!! Second place did eventually fall to the Klang Chamber Choir that performed a tight rendition of the Korean song Arirang.

Trophies ×2
Klang Chamber Choir, XUM and UMRC
Bad points of the competition - prizes, or lack thereof for any other category other than the piano group. Seems that through lack of sponsorship/funding/support there weren't any prizes made available for other categories. Although it was an enjoyable and different experience, it unfortunately will probably be the last time we enter any competition organised by MYOF. It isn't justified to spend so much (RM600 for two teams not inclusive of other expenditures such as travelling, toll, printing, etc) and get practically nothing in return other than the trophy and a namesake in the 2007 records.

Good points - it allowed the choir members to feel what it is like to participate in a competition where you do not know the other groups and their capabilities. Feseni UM has become somewhat of a predictable event with the majority of the teams repeating old songs/arrangements and is very boring. It also allowed for greater repertoire instead of being held back into presenting patriotic songs in either English or Malay only.

Score/arrangement wise, I'm still fine-tuning the pieces but I've managed to find a style and range that everyone seems to be comfortable with. Belaian was an experimental attempt in trying to convey the same instrumentation from the recording made by Innuendo into a vocal a-cappella piece. There are still places to fix and parts to enhance which had to be changed from the original score due to vocal ranges and lack of practise, but overall I'm kinda happy with the outcome ... still need a better ending though 'cos the current one doesn't build enough for a strong impact.

Ice Kacang is an oldie sung by the Kopi Kat Klan group from Singapore. This arrangement was first performed by the KK9 choir in 2004 and is based around a score previously arranged by Issac Chia. His arrangement was for SATB voices for the group he wrote it for, and based on this I rewrote and rearranged (with permission) the parts and doubled up the voicing to a SSAATTBB arrangement so as not to break up the vocal phrases and complete the chords ala the recording style. The piece still needs work though as simplifications had to be made to the sop accompaniment and the altos are still sumbang at parts. These little problematic nuances do add a little charm to the overall effect of the piece though :)

Obladi-oblada is a re-arrangement of the piece performed by the King's Singers in which the altos now carry the majority of the melody line. This is rather rare as most often melodies go to either the sopranos or tenors since they are the higher voices and can be heard better against the accompanying parts. This arrangment was similar to the performance done by KK9 for the 2006 Feseni Choir competition in UM (we won back then too ... hee hee!!)

I can't remember where I obtained the OOMH score from but the performance by UMRC was based mostly on the arrangement I got. I don't claim arrangement rights to the song though since I didn't do it ... I merely fixed it in places. The group did do an amazing job and the vocal percussion addon at the very last minute (the night before, actually) did help the whole piece gel together.

Overall it was a satisfying experience albeit very tiring. We (XUM) had to rush back for a night performance in which YABhg Tun Dr Siti Hasmah was the guest of the evening. She seem to enjoy our performance of Ice Kacang as I could see her smiling from her seat. Her feelings also seem to reflect into the audience that was present as they laughed and swayed to whatever we were singing on stage (we were also dead tired by then). She made it a point to actually come up to where we were seated and talk to us about our performance and ask us about stuff like where we were from, what we were doing and such. She also made a note that she wants to have a choir like ours in her university ... if she only knew (gawd help me!!).

Anyways, weeks of work and effort alongside several unplanned and unwanted events along the way paid off with two trophies, multiple photos and countless memories. Now they want to do a recording for their MYOF CD (which we are still contemplating) and then practices begin next week for the upcoming Feseni 2008 ... tak tahan liao ... need a break ... So what piece am I working/twiddling around with now? Trying out Aerosmith's I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing from Amah-ge-dan

Pic with our judge, Ms Delia
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