5 Jun 2018

Rayner Naili to bring the sounds of Sabah to the Asia-Pacific stage

After showcasing Malaysia's young compositional talents from both the West and East coasts, the next representative at the upcoming ACL festival hails from the Borneo state of Sabah across the South China Sea.

28-year-old Rayner Naili, born in Sabah, will be presenting his chamber work piece Serpihan Mimpi for flute and violin (Fragments of Dream) at the festival's Young Composers Competition, and sees the opportunity as a "breakthrough" for Sabahan composers.

Naili started learning music as a self-taught musician, and then decided to get proper music education at the Faculty of Music of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) from 2008 until 2013, where he received a dean's list for his Bachelor of music in composition.

He then furthered his studies in composition at the University of Manchester, UK, where he studied composition with Richard Whalley. Rayner’s works have been performed and workshopped with many professional musicians such as the Quartor Danel, Trio Atem, Clare Hammond etc.

Currently, Naili is teaching at the Faculty of Music in UiTM.

On his four-part work, Naili says, "The piece was inspired by the idea of a journey in a dream. There are many occasions in a dream that switch from one emotion to another in relation to the dimensions of the dream.

"These dimensions could be related to each other or could be different from one another. Although these fragments of the journey are scattered, it's still in one set of a dream, hence, it makes a story that has different sets of emotions. These emotions and dimensions were composed and arranged accordingly as there are several parts in music composition."

The four short movements of the work are titled: I. Samar, II. Celaru, III. Sepi, IV. Riuh.

It begins with a conventional dialogue between the two instruments, but as the movements unfold, Naili introduces more extended techniques and flexible meters, and the tonality of the opening soon gives way to more unconventional sounds from the instruments, including jet whistle tones and scratch tones (excerpt below).


On his musical style, Naili says, "My music has always been influenced with interlocking elements, rhythmically and harmonically. This could be influenced of my growing up with the traditional music of Sabah, such as gong tunes, kulintangan, togunggak etc, which are largely using interlocking as their main element.

"Apart from that, I have always been fascinated with Einstein’s theory of relativity, where the speed of light is a universal measurement of time. From this perspective, I usually try to develop my music using these two elements of interlocking and relativity."

He said going to Taiwan for the 35th ACL "would be a breakthrough for me or any Sabahan contemporary composer".

"It would be an exciting experience to explore other composers’ works and hopefully learn something for personal development, and promote Malaysian contemporary music at the same time," said Naili.

History of the ACL Young Composers Competition

The ACL (Asian Composers League) comprises representative bodies from across the Asia Pacific that holds regular festivals every 12 to 18 months around the region. Its Young Composers Competition is a platform for young composers around the region to show their talent.

As the Malaysian representative in ACL, the Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) has sent many young talents to the regional platform, and each and every representative has done the country proud in showing their highly individual musical voices. In  particular, 2011 (Taiwan), Jessica Cho won third prize for her work Five Little Pieces for Piano, while in 2014 (Tokyo), Ainolnaim Azizol won second prize for his Fragments I for trumpet duo.

2011 Taipei - Jessica Cho, won 3rd Prize
2013 Singapore - Ainolnaim Azizol
2014 Tokyo - Ainolnaim Azizo, won 2nd Prize
2015 Manila - Sayyid Shafiee
2016 Hanoi - Raja Mohamad Alif  
2018 Taipei - Rayner Naili
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