Proud Penangites rarely envy the residents of Kuala Lumpur, with the notable exception of those who enjoy listening to live performances of classical music. Although Penang has several amateur orchestras which give regular concerts, it lacks both a professional orchestra and a proper concert hall venue. Kuala Lumpur has both – The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and its home venue, the Dewan Filharmonic at KLCC, both generously funded by Petronas.
The MPO, founded in 1998, has a strong reputation, and each season presents a full calendar of classical orchestral music from across the centuries, as well as crowd-pleasing jazz, film-music and pop concerts designed to appeal to a wider audience. It also manages a youth orchestra which aims to nurture young musical talent from across Malaysia, which now has an impressive alumni list, including Benjamin Ng Choong Yen, resident conductor of the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra.
Penangites have the opportunity to hear the MPO without visiting KL on Tuesday July 2nd as part of their North Malaysia tour. The concert will be led by MPO Resident Conductor, Gerard Salonga and will feature pianist Tengku Irfan. The MPO will play a selection of well-known classical pieces such as Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1, but also Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, and popular local works such as P. Ramlee’s ‘Tunggu Sekejap’, and Pak Ngah’s ‘Cindai’. Regular concert-goers of Penang may remember Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture was performed only last year by the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra.
Piano soloist Tengku Irfan debuted with the MPO in 2009, and since then has won several international prizes, and has performed with the Singapore Symphony, São Paulo State Youth Orchestra and Juilliard Orchestra. With the MPO, Irfan has toured in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi in 2013, and also Sabah and Sarawak last year. For most Penangites this concert will be the first chance to see resident conductor Gerard Salonga on the podium – he joined MPO in January of this year having previously served as Music Director of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra in Manila and as Assistant Conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tickets are priced at RM20 (for students), RM30, RM60 and RM100 and can be purchased from the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and at Bentley Music on the 5th floor of Gurney Paragon. The concert will take place at Dewan Sri Pinang on Tuesday July 2nd at 8.30pm.