Category Archives: Arts & Culture

From Vienna to Broadway


From Vienna To Broadway1

The PSPA Singers made their debut with a repertoire of arias in their musical presentation entitled “Voices from Vienna to Broadway” at Tandoor Grill Restaurant in Ipoh recently. Along with three prominent singers from Thailand, Sirikhwan Buathong (soprano), Thanis Sonkloe (baritone) and Salith Dechsangworn (tenor), the singers gave a rousing performance, not only through their vocal prowess but also facial expressions.

Led by music director Marianne Poh, who is herself a soprano, the show had an interesting programme, with the first half consisting of Mozart’s well-known operas, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte, and the second half, a selection of evergreen musicals from The Sound of Music to Miss Saigon and Les Miserables.

The first half began with a solo presentation, kicked off by Marianna Poh’s rendition of L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a rebellious bird) from the 1875 opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. Then, Thai baritone, Thanis Sonkloe, took to the stage with Mozart’s Deh, vieni alla finestra from the opera, Don Giovanni.

From Vienna To Broadway2

The second part of the first half was arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. First was Giovinette, which was a scene at the wedding party for Zerlina and Masetto. This was followed by Là ci darem la mano where Don Giovanni, the philandering Count, tried to seduce his housemaid, Zerlina. The last aria, Eh via, buffone wrapped up the second part.

In the third part, Così fan tutte, two sisters, one blonde, and the other a brunette, discussed the men of their choice. It ended with the women sending their men to the army.

The second half of the presentation was on musicals through the ages from light to the serious, beginning with The Sound of Music from 1959. The selection of songs included Edelweiss, My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Mi.

Tracks from Miss Saigon were Sun and Moon and Last Night of the World while those from Les Miserables included I Dreamed a Dream and One Day More.

The audience asked for an encore and to their delight was awarded with not one but two additional pieces; local hit Belaian Jiwa and African hymn Siyahamba.


One World Through Poetry.


Perakeans throughout the state will be treated to world class poetry next week when the state hosts over 200 international poets from 24 countries, including Malaysia.

New folder3

The event was announced by the Executive Councillor for Health, Tourism and Culture Nolee Ashilin bt Dato’ Mohammed Radzi during a press conference recently.

The poets are participants of the 33rd World Congress of Poets (WCP) who had picked Ipoh and Perak as their venue of choice for their annual event.

Also to be held simultaneously will be the 4th Pangkor International Poetry and Folk Song Festival.

YB Nolee Ashilin ( centre)
YB Nolee Ashilin ( centre)

The week-long event lasting from Sunday, October 20 to Sunday, October 27 will be officially launched by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir on the Monday night, October 21.

The theme for this year’s congress is, “One World Through Poetry” and will include programmes on the exchanging and sharing of ideas between participants.

During the duration of the event, recitals will be held at Ipoh (Gerbang Malam, Lost World of Tambun) and at Perak’s iconic spots such as Lenggong and Matang Mangrove  Forest before proceeding to Pangkor Island.

Poetry fans wishing to enquire further about the gathering can contact its event coordinators, Malim Ghozali PK (013-5111043/ email: seladangevent@gmsail.cvom) and Anuar Mat Zain (019-5236899/ email:


Perak Needs an Art Gallery


“Perak needs an art gallery” said State Exco for Tourism, Culture and Health, YB Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi. Nolee made the statement at a press conference after the closing of the ‘Ipoh Drawing Marathon 2013’, the Perak chapter of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s ‘1MCAT’ (1 Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism) programme.

Malaysian Contemporary Art created during Ipoh Drawing Marathon 2013. 3rd from left Dr Ahmad Lothfi

Nolee was responding to a closing speech made by the President of Persatuan Pelukis Perak Dr Ahmad Lothfi Hj Ibrahim, who urged YB Nolee to look into the viability, not just as an opportunity for Perak’s artists to display their works but also, to “preserve Perak’s heritage for future generations”.

YB Nollee
YB Nolee ‘Perak needs an art gallery’

Noting that Perak was the only state without an art gallery, she stated that the state was currently identifying a suitable location for the gallery and would be discussing the issue with the National Visual Arts Gallery. “A permanent gallery can also display other forms of visual art including cartoons and would be suitable to display the expensive works of art such as those on display during the marathon.”


The event was launched by Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It included the Ipoh Drawing Marathon, a 24-hour event which started at noon on Saturday. It attracted over 50 artists with some artists coming in to participate at different times throughout the event.


Held at Kinta Riverwalk the artists were required to produce artworks using charcoal and draw  figurative or non figurative images surrounding the Riverwalk. Sixty of the drawings were selected for a coffee-table book to be exhibited at the Tourism and Culture Ministry and at hotels.

The Artists at Ipoh Drawing Marathon 2013

pior 3a


Beyond Ketupat and Kimchi


Ipohites will be treated to a cultural exchange extravaganza this weekend by the presentation ‘Beyond Ketupat & Kimchi: Celebrating our Cultural Inheritance’ a Korean and Malaysian cultural dance presentation.


The event will be held at the Ipoh Town Hall this Saturday October 12 at 730pm.

The cultural dances will be performed by Branch 2 Dance, a traditional Korean national dance team and Gema Warisan Budaya presenting a sampler of traditional Malaysian dances.

The presentation is organised by event company ‘The Brain Truster’ and ‘Prospect’.

According to Danielle Liang of The Brain Truster the purpose of organizing the event was to create awareness for cultural heritage preservation.

Branch-2-Dance troupe with Danielle Liang (in green dress)
Branch-2-Dance troupe with Danielle Liang (in green dress)

To emphasize her point of cultural heritage she held her press conference at the Happy 8 Hotel at Old Town, a restored shop lot turned boutique home stay while the event will be held at Ipoh Town Hall, Old Town built in 1917.

On the night a unique art exhibition comprising painting and installation arts will be on display contributed by both Malaysian and Korean artists each giving their interpretation of what Malaysia is to them.

For more info on the event please contact Ms Daniele Liang:012-9373123 , or


Fundraiser Operetta by Australian Troupe


Ipoh theatre lovers will be in for a treat at the end of this month when the Johann Strauss operetta, Die Fledermaus or ‘The Revenge of The Bat’ will be performed here by Australia’s Touring Opera Company, Co-Opera.



The operetta is being brought in by the Perak Association for the Intellectually Disabled (PAFID) as part of its annual fund raising project in collaboration with Co-Opera. It will be performed at 7.30pm on September 30 at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites.

The prologue of this comic operetta relates how a “Dr Falke’s best friend Gabriel Eisenstein leaves him naked in the centre of town with only his mask to cover his crown jewels after a drunken fancy dress party. Good friend Einstein may have long forgotten his practical joke but Dr Falke’s hideous embarrassment in front of the whole town requires revenge. Thus the stage is set for ‘Revenge of the Bat’ set in the glamorous high society of early 1920’s Art Deco Australia.

5th from left Dato Dr Yeoh Beng San with PAFID Committee-members

According to Association President, Dato’ Dr Yeoh Beng San, PAFID was formed in 1980 and is a voluntary, non-profit charitable organisation that caters for the educational needs and well-being of the intellectually disabled in the State of Perak.

The Association manages five schools, three sheltered workshops and a sheltered factory in Ipoh and functions through annual grants from the government and donations from the generous public.

The Association is targeting to raise RM500,000 from the event. Tickets are priced at RM300, RM200 and RM100 per admission. For every 10 tickets purchased, one ticket of the same denomination will be given free.

For further enquiries call 05-547 0186 or contact Ms Lai 017-585 4376.


Cantonese Opera Draws Youth


Arts & Culture

Act of swinging pony tails by Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai
Act of swinging pony tails by Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai

For two weeks recently, thousands of opera fans around Ipoh and some, all the way from Kuala Lumpur have been thronging the Guan Di Temple, located along the Batu Gajah main road just to catch a glimpse of the performances led by renowned  Hong Kong opera performers, Sung Hung Bor and Ko Lai. As part of the temple’s annual celebration, the opera performances were staged for 20 consecutive nights, from July 30 till August 18 this year.

Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai
Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai

Guan Di Temple in Batu Gajah with its history of more than 100 years is one of the very few temples in Malaysia that still provides the venue for opera performance for such a lengthy duration. All visitors were welcomed with free seating on a first come, first served basis.

This time around, Ching Yin Cantonese Opera’s troupe leader, Peggy Choy has once again invited Sung Hung Bor and Ko Lai  taking up the role of  male lead “shen” and female lead “dan” after a successful performance by the duo last year. To the delight of all local fans, this year, Peggy Choy  also invited top Hong Kong Cantonese opera performers, Chan Hung Chun and up and coming star Alan Tam, taking up the role of comedic “chao shen” and second male lead, respectively.

Peggy Choy, Chan Hung Chun, Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai
Peggy Choy, Chan Hung Chun, Sung Hung Bor & Ko Lai

In line with requests from the audience, the troupe has been staging plays mainly from the “Mou” or martial  arts genre which requires the lead “Shen” and “Dan” taking up the roles of generals or warriors.

An interesting phenomenon for this year’s performance is that the local audience has been very supportive by posting almost instantly, photos taken during the performance onto Sung Hung Bor’s Facebook page, thus allowing his fans in Hong Kong and other parts of the world to enjoy and share the excitement as well.

Peggy Choy as the second female lead
Peggy Choy as the second female lead

The performance by the Ching Yin Cantonese Opera troupe this year has attracted a young audience in rather large numbers, which is a rare occurrence indeed. It is hoped that more efforts can be made to promote Cantonese Opera to the younger generation.

Young & talented Alan Tam
Young & talented Alan Tam


When the curtain falls, signalling the end of another excellent performance
When the curtain falls, signalling the end of another excellent performance


Those interested in Cantonese opera may call: Lee Choe Leong 012-500 6479.

Lee Choe Leong

When Mozart Travelled the Silk Road


Perak Society of Performing Arts (PSPA) 6th International Ensemble presentation was a remarkable show that allowed the audience to experience an exotic journey from the west to the east by trekking through the Silk Road and experiencing the moods and sounds of the ethnic communities all through music.

2The experience was made more authentic by PSPA Music Director Eugene Pook’s selection of western and eastern instruments such as the Gu-Zheng, Erhu and Dizi. Pook admitted that this was the first time he tried this east-west combination of instruments to create an authentic experience of musical cultures to target a wider audience.

Similarly the selection of pieces from Mozart’s Turkish March, the first piece played by a string quartet and piano set the mood to start the journey which was subsequently followed by Chen Yi’s Tibetan Tunes.

Combining east and west instruments created an authentic experience of musical cultures

Jiang Ying’s Silk Road, played just before the interval was a superb eye opener. The piece started with the Erhu and Yangonin which presented an image of a central Asian location alive and bustling.

Silk Road was written for Chinese Classical orchestra. Pook described this piece as heavy and said it was the first time it was played using western instruments. To help him with the arrangement Pook called on musician and friend Chen Kam Chien, the result of which was most enlivening.

The night carried on with AW Ketelbey’s ‘In a Persian Market’ followed by an excellent performance of Tan Dun’s Eternal Vow (from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) finishing with Liu Tieshan and Mao Yuan’s Dance of the Yao People. For the encore the ensemble fittingly played Kitaro’s Matsuri to give the night an exotic finish which probably left the audience craving for more.

With the exception of flautist Jennifer Teng from Taiwan, none of the other musicians had performed with a mix of eastern and western instruments before that night. Amil Sulaiman on Cello remarked that “all were amazed that their effort and hard work was worth it”.

Classical Chinese musicians Yew Fei Fei on Guzheng and Chong Koi Min on the Ehru are in their twenties and according to Pook “this was their first time playing at a professional level. However, their passion and talent for their music made it easy for them to blend easily with the western musicians”.

The International Ensemble with the PSPA team  PSPA President Datin Rosalina Ooi is 4th from right.

Pook was very encouraged with the positive response to Silk Road and stated it has given him courage to challenge the boundaries and to take Ipoh’s music community to another level.


Sharanagati – Absolute Surrender


A night of wonder and beauty in motion. Listening to the crystal clear vocals of O.S. Arun along with his team of live music accompaniments was a rare treat indeed.

When the lights dimmed, the audience excitedly waited with bated breath for the performance to begin. Sukanya Venugopal’s very expressive narration in English, only heightened the anticipation and was a welcomed inclusion, for those, who otherwise, may not have been able to understand or fully absorb the beauty of the night’s performance.

Sharanagati –  Absolute Surrender

The original choreography by P.T. Narendran, Leena Mohanty, O.S. Arun and Dheeraj Kumar Mohapatra gave the audience both a visual and aural feast as the dancers demonstrated their artistic talents in an engaging and playful manner. So encapsulating was the performance that everyone stayed glued to their seats in rapt attention, applauding enthusiastically. Even children attending the occasion were on their best behaviour, which is rather unusual for a local audience. This fact alone, speaks volumes for the night’s performance.

Exploring the beautiful Indian philosophical concept through the unique confluence of classical dance and music styles of Odissi and Bharatanatyam, the dancers drew the audience into their world of majestic traditions, grace and beauty. The lighting cast artful shadows of the dancers off the surrounding walls of the auditorium, and this further added to the surreal feeling, as the intricacy of each movement was skilfully executed. The gifted voice of O.S. Arun with its mellifluous, sonorous and fluent textures, made it possible for the audience to enjoy listening to a breathtaking range of pure and pristine melodic compositions. Such was the characteristic of his musical expressions that the audience didn’t really want to leave their seats, even during the short intermission.

The excitement just kept building upon itself right up to the end,  which  featured  a  magnificent final performance that truly merited a standing ovation.

With such world class performances, brought to the people of Ipoh, the Ipoh Fine Arts Society (IFAS) hopes that the rich traditions of the performing arts will inspire and encourage its young to be part of this rich heritage of traditional music and dance art forms. The IFAS is dedicated to encouraging and supporting artistes of the performing arts by covering a broad spectrum of classical, folk and contemporary arts, while striving to preserve the integrity of traditional dance and music in the community. Tapping into this jewel of diverse art forms, IFAS work tirelessly to help establish a vibrant rapport with the artistic community through its music workshops and cultural programs.

If the support shown is anything to go by, the people of Ipoh are ready and willing to be a part of this awesome journey.

Serena Mui

Perak Theatre Festival 2013


Theatre lovers who witnessed the Perak Theatre Festival 2013 were not disappointed. Spanning a period of three days beginning June 14 to 16 and held at the Perak Arts and Culture auditorium in Jalan Caldwell, Ipoh, the festival was organised in the form of a competition between four theatre groups that took part.

Perak Theatre Festival 2013

The objective was to heighten the level of local theatre performance, as well as to encourage interaction among the theatre enthusiasts. It was also aimed at preparing the theatre groups so they could perform at the coming Malaysia Theatre Festival 2013.

The participants performed two plays, one a monologue drama and the other a modern drama.

Screams of joy were heard when head judge, Associate Professor Dr Abdul Samat Salleh, declared Badan Budaya Perak as this year’s champion. The team won RM3000 while first runner-up, MKD Kinta Theatre Group and second runner-up, Pertubuhan Bangsawan Warisan Moraza Theatre Group received RM2000 and RM1000 respectively.


A Joint Art Exhibition


In a friendship that has lasted 46 years, artists Chow Ngan Moi and Lee Ben Thong, had for the first time held a joint art exhibition in Ipoh. Their previous collaboration was in Kuala Lumpur 15 years ago.

This exhibition with the theme, “Comprehension of the Soul” was officiated by Malim Nawar State Assemblyman, Leong Cheok Keng. Held at Lim Ko Pi Gallery in Jalan Iskandar, the exhibition was opened for a week from June 16 to 23.

A Joint Art Exhibition

There were 25 pieces of art displayed, with Chow showcasing her watercolour and oil paintings, while Lee contributed only his oil paintings. With 46 and 54 years of experience respectively, both artists concurred that it took a lot of practice to refine their painting techniques.

However, they lamented the lack of proper exhibition venues in Ipoh, where locals could be exposed to fine art and develop an appreciation for it.

Proprietor of Nothing Special Arts & Antiques, Chan Kin Mun, the organiser of the exhibition, said that he had approached the couple for this joint show as he was aware of the quality of their art.