16 Aug 2019

Two composers win commisions at the inaugural Free Hand Festival 2019

Free Hand Festival 2019 on Wednesday, 14th August saw music and piano lovers from all walks of live from as far as Penang and Singapore, gather at UCSI Institute of Music Kuala Lumpur to soak themselves in a day of Malaysian art music, from the well-attended seminars in the day where composers took the public through their compositional processes, to fascinating insights into the world of playing new music to new audiences in Mei Yi Foo's talk 'Modern Playground'.

The highlight of the festival was undoubtedly the 2013 BBC Music Magazine 'Best Newcomer' award-winner Foo's concert, where she dove into the variegated world of Malaysian new music, that took the audience through a fascinating journey into the world of contemporary piano sounds. The sonic saga visited some unusual places such as the woodcutter's world of percussive sounds in Choke Yuen Ting's The Woodcutter's Song, and the eerie other(piano)worldly ivory sounds of Chow Jun Yan's experimental piece In the Absence of Silence.

The closing works from Tazul Tajuddin, Kabus Pantun, a musical reimagining of the Malay traditional poem, and festival director Adeline Wong's exhilarating Herringbone were a real treat to watch, especially in the way Foo athletically lept through the latter's hammering notes and took the audience on a breathtaking sprint to the concert's finishing line.

Other works on the programme were ​Raja Mohamad Alif's Dol Said, a sound painting of the Naning Wars in colonial Malacca, Samuel Cho's Vatni, a study on water movements and fluidity, Chow Jun Yi's introspective Deep in the City, Lee Chie Tsang's Sympathetic [re]sonance, inspired by the sonic architecture of a Rajastjani musical instrument, and C H Loh's Morning at Klang Harbour, a reflection of sea burials dedicated to his recently departed mentor Luk Hoi Yui.

Closing the night of new sounds was surely  music to the ears of two of the young composers, Lee Chie Tsang (photo,second from right) and Samuel Cho, whom the judges Seung Jae Chung (Korea (president of ACL-Korea, photo, second from left) and Hoh Chung Shih (president of the Composers Society of Singapore, photo, third from left) awarded as winners of the commission to write test works for UCSI's International Piano Festival & Competition in 2020.

Free Hand 2019 organised by Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) and sponsored by UCSI
University Institute of Music and Yayasan Sime Darby, with extra assistance from Pejabat Pembangunan Negeri Wilayah Persekutuan.



4 Jul 2019

Award-winning pianist Foo Mei Yi performs original Malaysian works in KL, 14 August 2019

On 14 August, BBC Music Magazine's Best Newcomer award in 2013, London-based Malaysian pianist Foo Mei Yi will perform 9 Malaysian contemporary classical piano works at the Free Hand festival organised by the Malaysian Composers Collective and UCSI University's Institute of Music, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, including the works of award-winning composers Adeline Wong and Tazul Tajuddin.

The festival is the first of a regular series to encourage the composition of local piano works of high standard, that can be showcased by pianists at home and abroad.

At the festival two winning composers will be picked to be commissioned to write the test piece for for the finalists of the UCSI University International Piano Festival & Competition in 2020.

Submissions for the festival will also be included in Malaysia's first ever anthology of piano works to be published after the event.

Foo is excited to be performing the Malaysian works, and says, "I believe this concert will prove itself to be a game changer, at least for me."

Find out more at www.freehandfestival.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freehandfestival

About Mei Yi Foo

Winner of the 2013 BBC Music Magazine’s Best Newcomer award, Mei Yi Foo is recognised internationally as an innovative pianist with a diverse and eclectic repertoire. A prolific concert soloist, Mei Yi has appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony, London Chamber Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Remix Ensemble and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

She has garnered rave reviews from The Times, Independent, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, SRF broadcast, Guardian and Klassik magazine.

A native of Malaysia, Mei Yi resides in the UK after completing her studies at the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music in London with Yonty Solomon, Chris Elton and Alexander Satz.  Currently she holds a teaching position at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Mei Yi was also awarded the medal of Setiawan Tuanku Muhriz for her contribution towards art and music in her home country.

“…she sat down at the piano to give us a taster: three little late-20th century dazzlers, impish and poetic. Immediately we were her devoted fans.” - The Times

“…not only a virtuoso pianist, but an unaffected, intelligent artist.”  - Timeout

‘“Newcomer triumphs at BBC Music Awards […] Malaysian pianist steals the show […] her genius is now unquestionable’. - The Arts Desk

“Finally hats off to a young Malaysian […] Mei Yi Foo intrigued, charmed and dazzled in equal measure.” - International Piano Magazine


28 Mar 2019

Malaysian minimalism in the south, soundscapes in the West

Last weekend Malaysian music made its mark in Singapore and California, USA through the works of Adeline Wong and Ainolnaim Azizol respectively.

Singapore art and music lovers got a closer look at the inner workings of Wong's new work for piano Herringbone last weekend, when she gave a presentation at the Marina Bay Sands' Minimalism Symposium at the ArtScience Museum's Expression Gallery.

Organised as a programme of Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. at ArtScience Museum, the symposium aimed to discuss Minimalism as a cross-arts phenomenon by addressing the rich terrain of intersections, and encourages new thoughts about the role and influence of Minimalism on performative practices.

Writes ArtScience Museum, "Firmly established in the lexicon of twentieth century art, the impact and influences of Minimalism are felt to this day, bringing about ongoing and compelling discourses as each generation of artists mines its form."

Wong's piano work, first premiered in the island nation by UK-based award winning Malaysian pianist Foo Mei Yi, serves to illustrate how she has employed the concepts of minimalism in music today - an art form that has come a long way since its early days of Philip Glass and Terry Riley -  to her latest piano work.

Her composition is also shown in The Sound Room in Minimalism: Space. Light. Object at ArtScience Museum. The museum describes the piece as "bold, with textural energy and kaleidoscopic colours ... marked by the use and concentration of as little material as possible."

Meanwhile, further West, composer Ainolnaim was invited to Stanford University, California to present his work Gneiss for almglocken, geduk, computer and 8 speakers at a concert last Sunday. The work was part of a series of concerts at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) as part of its Linux Audio Conference 2019.

The work was one of four works presented in the programme, comprising composers from Stanford and Japan.

According to the programme notes, "Gneiss is an electroacoustic piece written for Almglocken, Geduk and 8 speakers with computer. It is a revision from my previous original electroacoustic work for flute and 2 speakers with laptop, JulaJuli which was commissioned for for MA/IN Music Festival, Italy 2018 and Spaziomusica Festival Italy 2018.

"The piece uses Geophony recording during my visit in Zermatt, Switzerland as background while “cultural sound” at the middle ground and the musical instruments as foreground.

"Gneiss was premiered for Malaysia Electronic Music Festival - SPECTRA 2018 and followed by another performance for Connecting Beats Malaysia Vol.5 Mini Festival 2018. The piece will be performed again for Linux Audio Conference 2019 (LAC-19) at Stanford University’s Centre for Computer Research in Music (CCRMA) Stage in fixed media format."

Singapore's Straits Times reviews Herringbone
Adeline Wong's Herringbone for piano premieres in S'pore


14 Feb 2019

Aswara to include Malaysian piano scores in their new exam board

Aswara is planning to propose a new and local music exam board - ASWARA Music Performance Diploma (AMPD). For this, they are going to start with the piano session first.

According to the representative, "The objective of the AMPD exam gives the opportunity to musicians who wish to demonstrate advanced level of playing with good skill, knowledge and understanding of the music performed. In addition, musicians who take this exam can also widen their repertoire study not only in Western countries, but also the music composed in Asia countries."

As part of the effort, Aswara will also help to encourage performance of Malaysian piano works.

MCC is helping Aswara to make their pioneering effort a success so that the music community can get to know Malaysia's many fascinating piano works.

Those interested in having their piano works considered please write in to aclmalaysia@gmail.com by the first week of April.

Celestine Yoong played Ng Chong Lim's Dragonfly
as the set piece for the 2013 Chopin Competition before winning the
Gold playing Mozart Piano Concerto in C Major
in the finals (pic).

Malaysian premieres since 1995

Here is a roundup of premieres of Malaysian works at home and abroad. Since the mid-90s Malaysian works have been performed largely abroad...

Malaysian Composers TV

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