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Features – Mike Booty and his love for Sabah

A conductor from the UK South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band comes to Sabah every year. What is he doing in Sabah and why does he keep coming? Find out more in this interview by Team ILoveSabah.

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What is your name and your role at UK South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band?

I’m Mike Booty and I’m the principal musical director of the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band that I formed some 40 years ago. It’s internationally renowned as a very good concert wind band. We are regularly visited by professional bands. They come in and we played with each others.

What do you think about the concert/symphonic band scene in Sabah?

What I’m seeing is that it’s very good. They have some very good beginning bands. And there are some very good bands capable of playing good quality music considering that basically they don’t get any formal instrumental training as we do in the UK. So I think the standards here at Sabah are very high and it’s incredible that some of the music can be played by some of these young people.

For the past few years you have been visiting Sabah every year. How did it begin?

We started with the Rotary Club. I visited here on holiday with my wife. We went to a Rotary meeting. Some Rotarians were joking around and they said since you are in the band scene you must bring your band to Sabah. I said we probably could since we were going to Singapore. They said you come here and we will look after you. So I did bring the band here. And as a result of that, I now come back at least once if not twice a year to see the bands here progressing year after year. And to see if we can help them to go a bit further to improve a lot more. I hope to continue helping them for many years to come.
photo – Mr Booty giving music workshop at to school band members of KK High School. During his visit this time, he also gave several workshops to Kian Kok Middle School Concert Band, a visiting junior secondary school band from Taiwan, primary band members from SJK Chung Hwa Tamparuli and SJK Yue Min Penampang.

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Workshop at Kian Kok Middle School with a visiting school band from Taiwan.

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Play it softly. Workshop with primary students at SJK Chung Hwa Tamparuli.

What makes you come to Sabah every year?

Well I don’t think you can leave it for too long before you come back as far as music is concerned. For the youth band, when the younger ones get older, they leave. So we will always have new people in the band. One has to get the continuity. It’s the way to do it so I come back at least once a year, and for the last two year it’s been twice, depending on my schedule since I have a very busy schedule in UK. But certainly I would like come at least once a year for them.

What do you love about Sabah?

The food, the people, and the climate. Everybody is very friendly. It’s always been different food every time I come. Very tasty and very nice. I have never had the same dish twice. I love it here and would love to come back as many times as I can.

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