Likha-Likas: ACL Festival in Manila this November

Manila hosts the 33rd ACL Conference & Festival from November 6 - 11, 2015, themed 'Likha-Likas: Reconfiguring Music, Nature, and Myth'.

Representing Malaysia at the Young Composer's Prize is Kuala Lumpur-born Sayyid Shafiee with his Jinsei Kouru for trumpet, bass clarinet and percussion.

The festival also features a number of Malaysian works (in order of appearance):
  • Johan Othman: the dancing mouse for SATB chorus
  • CH Loh: A Queen, A Mother for soprano and piano
  • Tee Xiao Xi: Life's Dukka (Shenghoubaku): art song
  • Ainolnaim Azizol: Meta VI: For electroacoustics and dancer
  • Chow Junyi: Serenade for orchestra
  • Chin Hong Da: Clock is ticking for chamber group

Programme notes:

Johan Othman: the dancing mouse for SATB chorus

This was originally a song cycle for soprano and harp, based on a poem by William Radice of the same title. The poem is taken from a set of 14 poems that form the last part of a new book published separately in June 2008 English-German, illustrated edition by Hirundo Press in Hamburg. This version for SATB chorus was prepared in 2011.

It comprises six songs, the first three of which is a variant of the same text. The movements are: 1 - 3. Once I saw it only; 4. The flaws on the floor; 5. The air rushing in; 6. The vase of sweet peas.

The first three movements in its original harp and soprano version was given its premiere at the HSBC Young Composers Workshop 2008 in Kuala Lumpur.

Johan Othman is a Penang-based composer who graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Yale University, and has studied with such composers as Ned Rorem and Param Vir. He is currently teaching at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.

Ainolnaim Azizol: Meta VI for electronic music (tape) and dancers:

“After” or “Beyond” as suggested by the meaning of Meta represents the sound-world of the music. Meta VI is a quasi-minimalist tape music with free-style dance. The music works as a stimulus for three or six dancers to form a free-style dance gestures based on their spontaneous interpretation on the music time-structure and gestures presented to form a whole performance of Meta VI.

Ainolnaim hails from Kuantan, and obtained his master degree in Music Composition and Technology at the Birmingham Conservatoir. He is currently teaching at UiTM Shah Alam.

CH Loh: A Queen, A Mother for soprano and piano

This is a pair of two songs on poems by Singaporean award winning poet Paul Tan, titled 'Queen Sunandakumariratana' and 'Observing Mother' dating from around 1997. Both songs are about women, therefore I titled the set 'A Queen, A Mother', showing two sides of the female psyche, one told from the first person, a spirit of a dead queen, and the other from the point of view of the poet, pondering his mother's conflicting spiritual beliefs.

In particular Tan wrote of Queen Sunandakumariratana, “The poem is based on the real-life story of the 19th century Thai King Chulalongkorn whose first wife drowned in a boating accident. Although there were subjects around who could have saved her, they did not dare break ancient Thai law which forbade commoners to directly look at, much less touch royalty. The king eventually repealed the law. Today, the monument erected in her memory still stands in Bang Pain Park, north of Bangkok.”

Both songs are thematically linked and are to be performed together as a pair.

Paul Tan won the Singapore Literature Prize in 1993 and 1997 for his collection of poems. He is currently the deputy chief executive of Singapore’s National Arts Council and organizer of the Singapore Writers Festival.

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