The Penang House of Music, which opened in November 2016, offers visitors a way to understand the island’s unique and dynamic musical heritage, and in particular to experience Penang’s musical golden age, from the 1940s onwards. It is located within the Komtar complex, directly above the ICT mall, and covers 650 square metres. You can read more about it here: https://penangfreesheet.my/ongoing-in-penang/penang-house-of-music/
As such, it is the perfect venue for the re-launch of Rosalie and Other Love Songs, which explores in detail Malayan music from the period leading up to country’s independence in 1957. Composer and Music Director Saidah Rastams wrote the book as part of a preservation project on Malayan music recordings, manuscripts and oral history conducted under the auspices of a fellowship from Khazanah Nasional Berhad. The resulting book is exhaustively-researched and beautifully illustrated, and this completely new edition includes lots of new material.
The book is no dreary, dry piece of academic work. The author opens with a kind of detective story, exploring the controversies surrounding the provenance of Malaysia’s national anthem, ‘Negara Ku’, and placing them within broader, contextual issues to do with culture, politics and society.
The celebration at Penang House of Music on November 5th from 4pm until 6pm will include a presentation and book signing session by the author Saidah Rastam, a Q&A session, and a musical tribute by Penang musicians James Boyle Quartet, and the enchanting singer Bihzhu. James Boyle, a talented musician, also happens to be the son of Jimmy Boyle – composer of iconic songs such as ‘Putera Puteri’ and ‘Jauh Jauh’. Refreshments will also be served.
The first edition of the book, published in 2014, was well-received, by Tan Twan Eng, author of The Gift of Rain, among others:
‘Written with passion and clarity, exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated, this enlightening and inspiring book will resonate with all Malaysians. Through the timeless songs that Saidah Rastam describes, we are masterfully guided on a voyage to our past that, ultimately, also charts a map for our future. Rosalie and Other Love Songs is a timely reminder to us that the history of our country is composed of countless strands, with each strand bound to the other, creating a unique and delicate tapestry to be cherished and preserved.’ – Tan Twan Eng, author of The Gift of Rain
‘Rosalie and Other Love Songs begins with a mystery about a love song and, stealthily, turns into a history of Malaya as time, as frame of mind, as nation. There is no other book like it on our country.’ – Kathy Rowland, ArtsEquator
‘Rosalie … may turn out to be the single most important volume written so far on Malaysian musical history.’ – Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Muhriz
Rosalie and Other Love Songs – A Celebration