Sunday, November 29, 2009

For the Mind and the Soul

The KL Children's Choir's Triple Bill

The great thing about children's singing is that it never sounds bad. Throughout my years I've heard a lot - none was really good, technically speaking, but none awful either. Factor in the sheer slight age, the (generally) angelic faces and voices reeking of purity and innocence, no song sung by a child would be called anything but wonderful. Thus, I went for this children's choir production knowing I wouldn't be disappointed with whatever they presented.

I was right. The children were simply delightful, and the music entertaining. It amazed me that children as young as 4 years could be so calm and poised on stage, singing their hearts out, some dancing at the same time. This was my first time at a musical production presented wholly by children and young teens, and although not vocally incredible, it was still a great feat. Looking at the very young decked out in colourful costumes, with smiles on their faces, listening to them - what cares do I have in the world? It was a truly enjoyable performance and if I actually paid for the tickets, I would say it was worth the money.

Alexander! featuring some of the youngest members of KLCC

OKU Convoy 2009 Volunteers' Training

Training is necessary for non-experienced volunteers for this event which I wrote about earlier, so, one was organized today, at the Pasar Seni Putra LRT station. The event briefing and wheelchair-handling demonstration were enlightening, to say the least. I'd long known and seen with my own eyes that the disabled can be very independent should they choose to be, but seeing so many on wheelchairs making their way around as easily as those who could walk, and talking about their disabilities in heartbreaking light-heartedness was something totally new to me. Impressive and touching as they were, the strong determination of our disabled friends and the profound compassion of the veteran volunteers, I mean to write about something else I observed.

Sprawled on the floor at the foot of the stairs and elevator leading to the train platform was a middle-aged beggar. He looked mildy disabled - one leg was shorter and shrivelled - but otherwise, fine. I didn't notice him at first, but I suppose he was there, watching us the whole time when the briefing and demos took place. When the entire group, including our enabled disabled friends, moved towards to escalator to demonstrate how a wheelchair-bound person could travel up it, he found himself in the way. The most amazing thing happened then - the supposedly unable-to-walk beggar got up on his one good leg, and supported by his less-good leg, limped rather nimbly to the side. Apart from the obvious limp, he was a physically able as any of the volunteers present.

One just needs to take a look from the almost-fully-abled beggar to the wheelchair-bound, some limp from various forms of palsy, muscular or nervous (I am not so knowledgeable in this matter, as yet), moving about independently, playing active roles and taking on leadership in an event meant in part to raise awareness to their potential independence, to make one think. So, what's his excuse?

It'll probably be a question I'll ask myself from time to time: What's my excuse? What's yours?

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It is not customary for me to write about a movie unless I feel really strongly about it, favourably or otherwise. It's the otherwise for this one, unfortunately.

I hadn't planned to catch this one in the cinema, really. What I really want to watch is New Moon (yes, Reader, I know you probably have 1001 rotten things to say about New Moon etc.; I have read the book and read this post, but I still want to watch the movie). However, my mother asked to be taken for 2012. Somehow, a group of her friends got really caught up in it, kept talking about it, and she didn't want to be left ignorant. So, I arranged the movie outing.

No doubt, the CGIs, special effects etc. were impressive. I had expected those elements to be spectacular and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, the crumbling buildings and volcanic eruptions were so grandly portrayed they made me sick. Sick as in feeling nauseous - the kind I get when vast, realistic images move too much and too quickly in my sight. That's the great part, really.

The not so great one: Right from the first chain of disasters, you'd know he's the superhero in human form who will to make close call after close call, survive near-death after near-death incidents to single-handedly save the day at the end. Oops.

Other not so great things: Well, there are a few things I find not credible in the least - but one spoiler per post should be enough now. I should stop writing now.


OK, I will.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

OKU Convoy 2009

Somewhere, somewhat out the sight of the general public, there is a group of golden-hearted people dedicated to make lives better for those they care about. Given the pace at which most of us live, it is too easy to overlook and ignore the less physically-fortunate. Do not be one of those selfish and apathetic.

In a gist, the OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) Convoy 2009 aims to:

1. Raise public awareness on the important of barrier-free environment and inclusive society
2. Encourage disabled people to live an independent life
3. Raise funds to purchase disability assistive devices

Date : 6th December 2009
Time : 7.45am to 4.30pm
Venue : Berjaya Times Square

They welcome anyone who wish to join them as volunteer workers, or contribute funds to the cause. Take a minute to visit this site, and to understand the importance of the work these awesome people are doing for the disabled members of our society.

I have signed up to be a volunteer. Will you consider to do the same?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Guitarist

He is the kind of guitarist I am unworthy of, and ought to feel abashed to have accompany my mediocre vocals. Meticulous in technique and technical accuracy, particular in equipment standard and quality, he stubbornly believes playing accompaniment to singing is plain child's play. In his league are classic solo pieces, his favourite being jazz. His guitar is bought and shipped from America, apparently not being sold locally. His guitar strings are all imported as well - this must be, for how can anyone imagine the average strings on an exquisite instrument? There are others - his electronic guitar tuner for instance - shipped directly from makers in America because the ones sold locally simply cannot live up to his expectations.

The tuning fork works, he said in response to something (stupid) I suggested, but the human ear cannot differentiate more than 1/4 of a semitone. Dumbstruck, dumbfounded, taken by shock, I agreed. Furthermore, he continued explaining, when all the strings are in perfect tune, they resonate as one, and the result - heavenly. No doubt!

Now reader, you may think I am mocking this man's enthusiasm and strive for perfection but I am not. If anyone can appreciate seemingly senseless passion, it is I. I, as a person who cradles the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary on her lap while writing a post for a blog, who would have proof-read this piece several times before publishing and several times after publishing, to edit and re-edit it until it is perfect in her definition of perfect. Indeed, as it is, I admire the young self-taught musician's spirit and determination. Of course, I am not being flattering just because he or his lovely girlfriend might be reading this. I am shocked that thought even crossed your (my) mind. I mean - people who sing-along to audio tracks are commonplace; people who play-along to the tracks' instrumental arrangements are not, if justification is wanted.

All that said, and I have to risk being the one to ruin the ensemble, and to bring everyone's baseless high hopes crashing down. Bummer.

Reader, you must be sick of these weird and totally incomprehensible anti-climaxes I end my posts with. I sort of like that, so I guess I am not apologising. Good night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Feathered Fiend

The morning was calm, quiet and cold. I had just returned from more than an hour of presentations, and was in the midst of going through the emails whilst having my morning coffee when the first sounds of the frantic flappings broke through. It came from the window, and all I could see was a dark shape moving behind the white blinds. It took me a while to realise that a not so little black bird had somehow flown into my office and was panicky because he couldn't get back out.

My office window is usually shut tight, but there was a thunderstorm yesterday evening and I suspect the strong winds somehow blew it open several inches.

I wanted to open the window wider to let the little fella out, but he got even more anxious when I approached. He flew out of the blinds into my office, and circled the room wildly once or twice. At this point, I had gotten panicky myself. I couldn't get near the window enough to open it, and I was terrified because I thought the black bird might swoop down and peck me. For a few seconds, I stood frozen and watched him fly right into the ceiling lights, circled the room again, and into the lights again, crying his high-pitched pain-stricken chirps. Then, I decided maybe if I held the door open, he would go through it.

So I did - I reached for the door and held it wide open. The little guy seemed a little settled by the distance I put between us. He perched on the blinds railing and paced left and right. I don't know if he would had responded had I whistled - I'd never know because I can't whistle. Damn. I tried to call out to him as best I could. I don't think he understood "Here, here, little bird!" or "This way out! (with exaggerated arm gestures)" because he totally ignored me.

Perhaps, I thought, I could get someone to usher my guest towards the door while I held it open. I took a look around, and miraculously, the corridor, usually bustling with noisy staff and students, was perfectly empty. It was so still I could probably hear the echoes of my breathing if I had better ears.

Well, fine, I thought, if I can't find help, I could probably place a chair at the doorway to keep it open while I myself do the ushering. I took a step towards the nearest chair, and the moment I moved, the unwelcome winged-intruder imagined impending danger and got instantly agitated. He flapped his wings, let out a few more of his tortured chirps and looked as if he would start flying madly around again. I retreated back to my position at the doorway and stared at him. He stared back at me.

We both stared at each other, at loss. I cannot recall many other occassions during which I felt more helpless than I did then. Just as I was wondering how long I had to be stuck with my feathered "friend", he had an enlightenment. I didn't exactly see it - it happened rather quickly - he flew behind the blinds, and somehow managed to escape the way he came in.

Once ascertained that he'd indeed left, I rushed to the window with the intention to shut it securely, lest more winged creatures decide to drop in. That was when I realised there were droppings on my window sill, and on my cabinet closest to the window!

Too much, Mr Yellow-Beak, too much! I have nothing against you, but you know I really don't like you when you scare the crap out of yourself in my office! Don't come back if you can help it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stage Debut

It was the stage debut for Rhythmic Roots, but hardly for any of those who were on stage. There were more audience that I'd expected in the theatre - it was, after all, a week night. Given a choice, I myself wouldn't had gone for a Thursday night anything if I had to work on Friday. The turnout was a pleasant surprise, though I suppose many of those there were friends and relatives of the performers. Still, it was grand.

The performers on stage were exuding vibrant energy like I'd never experienced in any of the many, many rehearsals we'd had. It might had something to do with the show being the first, and the actual presence of an audience. I don't personally know how nervous anyone might had been, because no one really sounded like he/she was nervous. Excited, yes, but otherwise, just like their normal selves.

I myself had a couple of friends in the audience. I wouldn't had spotted them from stage, if not for the fact that I had bought the tickets on their behalf, and therefore, roughly knew where to look, and the fact that one of them is a HUGE fella. I'd anticipated the joy and gratitude I'd feel at meeting them after the show, but what rushed over me was much more than I'd imagined. My friend, whom I hadn't met in more than ten years, said she was shocked - she hadn't expected a show quite so awesome. I would had interpreted the comment as her being really generous and polite, had not for her looking utterly awe-struck (I mean, if she could really had faked that look on her face so perfectly, Mr Director would love to meet her!) I would had gladly be thankful as long as she didn't find it boring - but that she found the show awesome? Awesome!

So, one down, four more to go!

11.34pm edit:
Two down, three more to go!

14th Nov, 11.59pm edit:
Four down, one more to go!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Papa Can You Hear Me?

May the light
Illuminate the night,
The way your spirit
Illuminates my soul.

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa can you find me in the night?
Papa are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me not be frightened?

Looking at the skies I seem to see
A million eyes which ones are yours?
Where are you now that yesterday

Has waved goodbye
And closed its doors?

The night is so much darker;
The wind is so much colder;
The world I see is so much bigger
Now that I'm alone.

Papa, please forgive me.
Try to understand me;
Papa, don’t you know I had no choice?
Can you hear me praying,
Anything I'm saying
Even though the night is filled with voices?

I remember everything you taught me
Every book I've ever read...
Can all the words in all the books
Help me to face what lies ahead?

The trees are so much taller
And I feel so much smaller;
The moon is twice as lonely
And the stars are half as bright...

Papa, how I love you...
Papa, how I need you.
Papa, how I miss you
Kissing me good night...

Song by Michel Legrand, Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Art of Performing

We are talking about choir, so it's just about the singing, right? Wrong.

There is the singing - singing nicely, singing in sync, and singing with mouth opened widely enough. There are also the radiant smiles that must come sincerely from the heart - unless one can be so good as to fake smiles that Mr Director couldn't see through. And there are the beautifully choreographed steps and movement, which mustn't look as if executed by zombies, elephants or storks. To the untrained being, the combination of all of that alone is overwhelming enough - but being in a choir means everything has to be done as a group, in total sync and harmony. If just one person doesn't get it, everyone repeats the whole routine, or section, until that person gets it. Calling it tedious is an understatement.

Sure, we do share lots of laughs - because we all laugh at our friends when they received death threats from Mr Director, or seriously sarcastic scoldings from Mr Choreographer, or when two guys knock their heads on each other's because they can't remember which direction to sway towards. But, no matter how much fun we usually have rehearsing, braving rush-hour KL jam to get to rehearsals 4 times a week and staying there up till 11pm at times hardly define 'enjoyable'.

Oh, did I mention none of the members are paid to do this? That's right, we don't get paid to sing; in fact, we pay - we pay so our music directors who are full-time musicians can earn a living, so that the academy we practice at can pay its rent every month.

Reader, you may be thinking that we must be out of our minds. You are not the first - that would be my mother (she can't understand why I'm willing, and of course, I'm grateful that she's willing to put up with choices of mine she can't really understand)

The art revolves, in short, around one thing: PASSION.

It drives, motivates and keeps everyone going even when things become unfavourable. It's crazy, but of course, also an experience I will forever be grateful for. A senior member told me that I should appreciate this opportunity to be in an actual production, because it isn't something that everyone can and/or will have. I agree. I don't know anyone, outside the production cast, who'd had received death threats from directors. Come to think of it, I haven't either - maybe I should deliberately provoke him the next rehearsal, so I can say that I have!

Oh, and this I am obliged to include:
12th Nov (Thu) 9pm, 13th Nov (Fri) 9pm, 14th Nov (Sat) 9pm, and 15th Nov (Sun) 3pm

The Actors Studio @ Lot 10

RM43 (centre seat); RM 33 (side seat)
call/walk in: TAS@Lot 10 box office - 03 2142 2009 03 22143 2009
walk in only: klpac box office@Sentul Park, Axcess@Head Office(Jln Semangat), 1 Utama, Alamanda Putrajaya

This, especially, I must include:
THANK YOU, Great Eastern for supporting our production!
(No, I'm not writing this for the sake of writing it or because Ms Producer told us we'd have to any chance we get, although she did tell us that; I really appreciate you guys appreciating and supporting local performing arts. I do! Too many people don't give a damn, and it's simply great that you do!)