Yap Ling, a household name in music scene has been working tirelessly building an orchestra in Kota Kinabalu to promote music to Sabahan. He has a major in violin performance and minor in conducting and arranging. We take the chance to meet him at his work space to discuss about his work and the music scene in Sabah.
What is your role in this orchestra?
I’m the conductor and music director of Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO), which I co-founded in 2007 with Madam Chou Yang Ching.
Tell us more about you and JPO.
As the eldest son in my family, the pursue of a music degree study and career was unrealistic some 30 years ago. I’m very lucky that I managed to get all the financial help from various grants including the Sarawak Foundation by the Rajah Brooke family and Yayasan Sarawak to complete my studies at the London Royal Academy of Music. After completing my studies, I came back to East Malaysia to teach, perform, and setup orchestras to raise music appreciation and standards in this region of the world. I am glad that I had a violin professor who taught me not only violin skills but how to be a better person to face this musical desert in Borneo. I must also thank a lot of great people in Sarawak especially Sibu that helped equipping me with all sorts of skills and knowledge to start an orchestra from scratch. JPO was formed in April 2007 to bring not only classical but different types of music experience to the general public. We provide performance opportunities and training for professional musicians, music students and graduated school band members for them to possess a sense of pride, trust, harmony, understanding and cooperation. Another objective of JPO is to foster inter-cultural artistic understanding through music. Our vision is to become locally, nation-wide and internationally renowned. We are thankful to schools especially the Kian Kok Middle School for their great help in supporting the orchestra with rehearsal venues, instruments and student players.
Any annual events by JPO?
One of our annual signature performance is the Sunset Music Festival at the Tip of Borneo, Kudat. Besides that, we have regular concerts in March or April and also during the end of year. We also organize recitals and concerts for visiting musicians. One of those is an upcoming concert by the National Symphony Orchestra Wind Ensemble on September 11th, which is led by Howard Ng, the first professionally trained Sabahan oboist.
What do you think about the orchestral and chamber music scene in Sabah?
It’s quite difficult for us to capture the general public’s interest as this kind of music is something which the audience need to have a little background on the music works to understand and really appreciate it. In the long run, we could improve music appreciation through education in schools by employing or contracting real music graduates as music teachers for our younger generations. Here in JPO, we try our best mixing lighter music into our concert programs depending on the theme and audiences of the event.
What do you love about Sabah?
I always find Sabah interesting. There are a lot of easily accessible places with great scenery. I love the nature, the sea, the islands and the mountains in Sabah. The Sabah Government especially Ministry of Tourism and Culture is doing a great job promoting Sabah.
Find out more about Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra at http://fb.com/jesseltonphil