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2015 PSPA International Ensemble - The Journey

“Benjamin, may I know how you learn music?” “Well, I have a good teacher when I first get involved in music.” “Oh, how so?” “Whatever sound I make from my violin, he just say good. As long as you can make sound out of it, it is good……”

Do you believe that Ben was half this size a year back? Gabriel and Christina believe that it is the power of love…..

Then, a few days later he shared another muse with the students in Yuk Choy:

“When you practice your instrument, you just cannot simply separate passion and technique as both have to be in-sync and together when you play. Don’t think too much about these things, just practice and play.”

With that, this young Hong Kong prodigy ended up as yours truly's favourite musician in this year’s ensemble. Well, perhaps commonality in size plays a high influential factor as well. He played the viola together with Dr. Andrew Filmer in the ensemble.

Since 2007, Perak Society of Performing Arts (“PSPA”) has organised a yearly musical ensemble whereby internationally renowned musicians from both local and abroad are invited to perform in Malaysia. Under the tutelage of Eugene Pook, the ensemble is well known for its innovative and versatile music selection to vow and entertain the audience. For this year, we did not realise it is going to be one of the best.

Apart from the guest clarinetist, Mr. Andrew Simon, all the 11 musicians together with Eugene , our Ipoh-borne music director, arrived at Sarong Paloh, their home during the whole two-week music program for Ipoh and Eugene led everybody to a quick ice-breaking session by having, well, snow beer dinner nearby as most of the musicians have yet to meet and know each other before this. To cut it short, everyone was very “happy" that night.

The faces and expressions before beer

Ice-breaking session in progress. No images were published after the meal, well, you get the drift

We soon realised most musicians were not early birds as attendance for 9am breakfast was rather ‘disappointing’. The first event i.e. the press conference and subsequent photo shoot session showed us how their life style pattern was.

Partners in crime laid bare in front of the press..

In contrast, any suggestion for supper after 11pm was met with high enthusiasm, in total contrast to most committee members and volunteers who are mainly early birds, though age may have something to do with this too.

Excuse OC for napping as he only slept at 2am

The music notes have yet to fully compiled for the musicians before their arrival and by the first rehearsal, it is still coming in. Despite the time constraint, when they started their first group rehearsal session, the volunteers who stayed on to help were completely mesmerised by the flow and the layering of their play. We knew by then this is going to be an extraordinary musical rendezvous with these outstanding talents!

The jaw-dropping session was proven again in the following night where we had an open rehearsal for the public, sort of peek-a-boo session before the concert, and despite the bad weather and late start, the hall was completely filled to the brim and the musicians continued to display their talents unselfishly to audiences’ ears. It was quite a sight to listen to these timeless classical music with them donning shorts, flip flops and t-shirts; and certainly a rare moment for the usually dead quiet old town to enjoy the echo of brilliant musical notes filling up the air and enlighten the hearts of the residents and audiences alike.

The local hospitality was clearly shown here as there were people who brought durians for the musicians and everybody has to endure a “smelly” rehearsal that night.

You are not going to publish this right…..

Threes a company

Gypsy Rondo Quartet in jeans, flip flops, tees and shorts

Durian-smell filled rehearsal