Why is the Malaysia National Symphony Orchestra Wind Ensemble playing in Kota Kinabalu? (OR, a Malaysian musician’s perspective for the Malaysian musician and audience. We hope you will be curious and read on!)
There has never been a time in Malaysia where classical music has flourished to such an extent, with the number of existing professional ensembles in the country on the rise (e.g. Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, RTM Orchestra and its various state level entities, the High Winds Ensemble, the Dama Orchestra, the list goes on!). Albeit the state of funding for these ensembles which varies a tremendous amount, they continue to make their mark in the country as well as abroad with productions that make full use of what they have in terms of resources. I can say on behalf of many of my colleagues that we are all grateful to the support of the government over the years, especially with the recent DIKN and JKKN initiatives.
As we continue to put effort and support into the education of the younger generation, with programs such as the Permata Seni Muzik program and the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, we felt more and more over the years a gap in the infrastructure of our music scene – we lack the opportunities for the professional development of existing Malaysian professionals.
To elaborate on this point, we sought the three main issues that perpetuate the problem and sought out ways to overcome them from our own personal levels:
– The lack of professional development opportunities, which are supported locally.
How do you develop a professional? In our opinion, you achieve this by pulling them out of their routine tasks and by bringing them away from their comfort zone. For orchestral musicians, chamber music performances are the best way to achieve this because of its transparency. Apart from the high technical ability required, chamber music develops the role of the responsible and disciplined individual in relation to working with others. The other possibility is to bring in foreign conductors of exponential quality or to put our existing musicians in higher quality orchestras for a brief training period. Unfortunately, no funding or infrastructural mechanism exists in this country for such possibilities to occur. We, Malaysian musicians, simply cannot catch up!
– The lack of audience building programs with our existing professional musical organizations.
Many organizations are well aware of this problem. While many have the capacity to hire marketing teams or create tools for this very purpose, most others do not. This is largely due to the lack of creativity or the lack of resources. For us the best way to build an audience is to play for them. And in return they would have to pay the most affordable ticket price, suited for a particular community in discussion. So for Kota Kinabalu, we are selling tickets at RM20.
– The lack of funding into the production of sustainable performance programs.
Because orchestras are so expensive to program, and the visions of our patrons so different, we sought out to diversify our output. Smaller scale productions of chamber music, with musical qualities that force audiences to sit closer and understand the music in an intimate way, seem to us the most sustainable choice of musical genre for musicians to independently pursue.
Here is an introduction of the Malaysia NSO Wind Ensemble:
The MNSO Wind Ensemble has its beginning as a Wind Octet back in 1986 formed by the wind players of the then OSM (Orkestra Simfoni Muda) a training orchestra precursor to the present NSO. When the National Symphony Orchestra was formally launched in 1993, the ensemble took an active role in introducing the orchestra to the public by performing regularly in various events as well as being featured in a few of the orchestra’s main concerts.
Today the ensemble takes a freer form, from trios, quartets to large ensembles and sometimes incorporating other instruments to suit the needs of the concert program. Among others, the ensemble has worked with acclaimed Malaysian pianist Yong Sue Yi as well as saxophonist Low Chee Meng.
In 2011 the Trio DíAnches Kuala Lumpur, a trio consisting of members from the NSO kick started a series of concerts where wind players of the NSO are featured prominently. Since then, several important performances have been produced under the guise of the NSO Wind Ensemble. Some of them include participation at the ëKLPAC Chamber Wind Projectí concerts and a recital at the Russian center of Science and Culture in Kuala Lumpur where the ensemble received critical acclaim.
In 2013 the ensemble performed a recital as part of Bentley Music Academyís Young Artist Platform to a rousing full house. Other programs in 2013 include a concert and workshop tour to Johor, Penang and Kota Kinabalu.
More information on the concert by MNSO Wind Ensemble are available here: