Friendship forged with music

AN EVENING WITH FRIENDS by Friend of Strings Chamber

When: June 8, 8pm & June 9, 3pm

Where: DPAC Theatre. Tickets at RM50. (Age Limit: 6 years old and above). Call DPAC at 03-4065 0001, 4065 0002

A GROUP of good friends into classical music will be holding their 15th Friends of Strings (FOS) Chamber annual concert come June.

The local ensemble, in 2004, has since grown into a family of more than 40 members of full- or part-time musicians, students, and music teachers and include strings players, pianists and percussionists.

Stan Lee, seated second from right, with some of the Friends of Strings ensemble.

Founder and leader Stan Lee, from the Malaysian Institute of Art, in Taman Melawati, says the ensemble comprises MIA students and graduates while others are universities local and abroad. Yet others took up music from private lessons.

Lee, 40, who plays and teaches the violin, says: “I was always mesmerised with the sound and timbre that it creates. I was especially enthralled by the violin melodies from movie soundtracks during younger times. Since then I’ve developed the interest to take on violin playing and am continuously honing this skill.”

Lee, from Malacca, took up the violin when aged 20. “Actually I was playing the trumpet in my school band, Yok Bin Secondary High School. After graduating, I decided on learning the violin because I liked the sound of the instrument. It was hard at first, but I just practised a lot.”

He adds that he was inspired Tchaikovsky. “The first classical collection that I own and inspired me a lot is Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, and his work ‘Nutcracker Ballet’ was also screening on the TV at that same time.”

Lee also credits his teachers William Chong (violinist from National Symphony Orchestra) and Prody Bartolome, for helping him start and develop the ensemble.

Joining Lee on stage for the 90-minute show is his student Yun Chuan as first violinist. The Seremban 30-year-old says: “I learn the violin from Lee, who came to teach at my school, SMK Bukit Mewah. When I came to Kuala Lumpur in 2013, Lee invited me to join FOS.”

Also a violin teacher now, Yun Chuan says she is studying for her second degree in music at Sunway University.

Also in the FOS emsemble are pianist Jo Yee as well as Chinese classical musicians including Tiffany Lew on the guzheng (Chinese zither), Teck Sing on the pipa (Chinese lute), and Yen Jiun on the erhu (Chinese 2-stringed fiddle).

The performance at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre will showcase the talent of soprano Evon Ng, along with guest conductor Chong Koi Min, music director and conductor from Malaysian Century Chinese Orchestra (MCCO).

The show will also offer concertos specially arranged for the traditional Chinese instruments. The works are rearranged by Yeo Chow Shern, and include Robe of Clouds (featuring the guzheng), Departure from the New Marriage (erhu), Dance of the Yi People Concerto for the Dai Dance (pipa).

Music lovers can look forward to the strings orchestra’s presentation of Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto VII, Jasmine Flower, Joy of Spring, among others, and Spring Breeze, Flower in the Raining Night with Ng on vocal.

Yun Chuan is delighted with the latter inclusion in the repertoire. “It’s a love song, in the dialect of Taiwanese Hokkien.”

Lee hopes to the show will help boost the appreciation of music produced locally, “which is also arranged in a way that blends both traditional Chinese and western classical music (two of the main classical music genre played by Malaysians)”.

“I also hope this concert succeeds in serving as a continuous learning and growing platform for the musicians in the performing scene, given that the number of classical music ensembles available in Malaysia is scarce.”

** Cover pic by Moses Lim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *