The George Town Festival opens on July 28th 2017 with a tribute to the music of Southeast Asia. Six different groups and performers from Malaysia and elsewhere around the region will perform fifteen minute sets.  The different styles, approaches and repertoires of the performers should result in an entertaining and educational evening.

Philippine Madrigal Singers

Happily, the angelic sound of the Philippine Madrigal Singers is with us again this year. Although their repertoire is extensive, and includes appropriately enough early Elizabethan Madrigals, in keeping with the Asean theme of this evening, we will be serenaded with songs by South East Asian composers, primarily Filipino, although Malaysians will be happy to hear a version of the folk song Rasa Sayang by Toh Ban Sheng in the programme too. To get a taste of what is to come, listen to a previous performance of Leron Leron Sinta by Saunder Choi:

George Town’s best local orchestra, the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, will be on-stage with a programme composed of famous tunes and folk music from Southeast Asian countries, including Di Tanjung Katong from Singapore, Begawan Solo from Indonesia and Tanah Pusaka from Malaysia. Local composers were commissioned by the Orchestra and George Town festival to arrange the these songs for symphony orchestral performance, which will add tone colour and richness to the familiar melodies.  The concert will begin with Malaysian composer Yeo Chow Shern’s “Celebration and Dance” which is inspired by Malacca Baba Nyonya traditional music. You can hear a recording of this in an arrangement for wind instruments only here: 

Penang Philharmonic Orchestra


Gus Teja

Gus Teja is a flute maestro from a small village near Ubud, Bali who began playing the flute while attending elementary school, and now skilfully plays not just the Balinese flute, but Native American flutes, Pan flutes, and and many others. Gus Teja World Music has the flute as centre-piece, but also includes Balinese gamelan, the ukulele and guitars.

Gus Teja World Music

The group has performed extensively in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. Their fifteen minute will be comprised of pieces from their three albums, Rhythm of Paradise, Flutes for Love and Ular Egar. 

Gus Teja World Music will also perform as part of the Macam Macam Asean Festival on July 29th at 12.30pm and July 30th at 7pm, at Penang State Museum on Macalister Road. You can get a taste for their music here:



Anchee is a versatile solo performer and vocal coach from Thailand. She will be performing three pieces, including Still on My Mind (Nai Duangjai Nirund), which was composed by the late King of Thailand. Her other songs will be I Dreamed a Dream, and Tanah Pusaka. 



Two Malaysian singers will also perform, Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi, who is famous for his jazzed up versions of Malay songs. 

Svara Asean takes place at Dewan Sri Pinang on Light Street on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th July, beginning at 9pm. Tickets can be purchased at or at the George Town Festival Office on Armenian Street. Prices start at RM 71. The show will last around 90 minutes. But expect it to start later and last longer on the first night, when there will be the inevitable delayed arrival of the Chief Minister, and a number of speeches before the show begins!