The Beginning of a Musical Journey

Text by Lau Sook Mei
Photos by Sin Kam Weng

Concert night.

Lights dimmed and the Syuen Hotel Ballroom fell into a hush, turgid  with  suspense. On stage, poised for action,  all fifty-six pairs of eyes and hands were anticipating  the conductor’s command.  Then, arms raised, and at the  flick of  his baton, strains of “Beyond the Horizon” welcomed the sell-out crowd to the Kinta Valley Wind Orchestra (KVWO) Inaugural Concert. It happened to be July 4th, an auspicious day, indeed.

One last rehearsal before show time.

The KVWO, Perak’s very own symphonic band  kicked off in January 2010. SiWu Education Trust, the family foundation of Ipoh philanthropist Dato’ KK Lim funded the acquisition of musical instruments to get the Orchestra started. Plans are afoot to steer this band into a full-fledged philharmonic orchestra for Perak.

Under the nurture of Mr Eugene Pook, Music Director and Conductor, the musicians improved by leaps and bounds, so much so that the KVWO was able to debut after only six months of hard work. Pook wants to put local musical talent on the world music map by taking the KVWO on tour abroad.

Clarinetists - feeling nervous?

“Breathing Life into Ipoh City” – that’s KVWO’s motto. Currently, band members  are mainly students and working people. The Orchestra wants to bring together music lovers from all levels of society for music appreciation. It sets out to educate and entertain the community in Ipoh and beyond. It aims to preserve the rich repertoire and the cultural history of the wind band which comprises all the orchestral instruments except the violin, viola and cello.

The repertoire for the Inaugural Concert ranged from classical favourites to contemporary, popular Chinese songs to Broadway musical – to please all tastes. Guest artistes for the night included Joost Flach, an acclaimed oboist from the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra; Foo Cheong Lin on  saxophone; Philip Boey on the gu-zheng; vocalists Estee Pook and Alan Low; and the band was boosted by players from inter-states.

What about the music that night? Slow, languid passages such as those from Bach’s Air on the G String were executed with much charm and fluidity while strong tutti passages filled the hall with sonority and richness of tone. I was moved. The rhythmic and strongly syncopated jazzy numbers almost had the audience on their feet; the musicians too were having  great fun swinging to the beat. Any sense of misgivings or insecurity was quickly over-shadowed by the rousing, energetic and mesmerising performance. Enthusiasm surged at the end of the show. The audience applauded and screamed for more.

Pook (squatting, fifth left) with his band of musicians.

Music knows no boundaries and the KVWO is charting a musical journey of excellence. The concert was a  success because Ipoh city folk had come out in full support. The KVWO has made history. It was a night to remember.

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1 Response to “The Beginning of a Musical Journey”


  1. 1 Papan Jones July 19, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Congratulations to all the people in Kinta Valley wind Orchestra and the organising committee of the Inaugural Concert and all your volunteers. Thanks for the sweet smell of success in Ipoh.

    History is being made. KVWO is a heritage for the future.

    Will KVWO consider performing outside a limestone cave… I am thinking of Kek Lok Tong or Gunung Lang…. Acoustically exciting, perhaps?


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