#Showbiz: MPO tuning up for a harmonious year

A new season for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off with the New Year Concert on Jan 20, which featured traditional Viennese and American orchestral pieces.

Also showcased was the wonderful melodies, textures and harmonies of Joseph Jongen's 'Symphonie Concertante' through a rousing performance on Dewan Filharmonik Petronas' (DFP) magnificent Klais Pipe Organ by virtuoso Dr Joseph Nolan.

Lovers of the organ will get another chance to witness the majesty of the venue's wind instrument during 'The Father, the Queen, and the King'.

The concert, set for today at 8.30pm, sees the MPO led by Japanese conductor Junichi Hirokami with Nolan joining in for Saint-Saens' organ extravaganza, 'Symphony No.3'.

Following this will be the thrilling 'Cirque de la Symphonie' concert set for Feb 2 and 3.

MPO resident conductor Gerard Salonga, who will be leading the orchestra said, the orchestra promises that it will be an aural and visual spectacle.

"I first conducted 'Cirque' right here in KL at DFP in 2018, and it is amazing how well the performers merge their art with that of the symphony orchestra. They have turned their craft into a performance art not dissimilar to ballet," he said.

Salonga will also be featured in the MPO's Valentine's concert on Feb 17.

"We're providing the perfect date night with our 'A Valentine's Serenade' concert, showcasing some of KL's finest singers, such as Sean Ghazi and Ida Mariana who will be joining the orchestra to perform some of the greatest love songs from musicals and films. The orchestra will also perform some well-loved instrumental pieces."

Talking about the rest of the season for 2024, Salonga said the classical symphonic music vibe would continue with very diverse offerings.

"There is definitely something for everyone, whether you're a seasoned classical listener, or just curious or starting your journey with classical music, or someone who loves popular Malaysian songs in a symphonic setting, or film scores and game music.

"Aside from our main stage classical concerts with fantastic conductors and soloists, we have concerts designed to introduce children and adults to classical music, as well as our popular Family Fun Day concerts.

"I am also very proud that the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra has made its return to DFP for the sold-out 'Strings In Harmony' concert last December, and throughout this year, we will be showcasing these fine young Malaysian musicians.

"Since the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been very emotional for us, as well as for the audience to see young Malaysian musicians taking their place on the DFP platform. It is a special venue and only right that our brightest young talents get to perform here.

"We also have some great projects in the works for Malaysian musicians and artistes; first is the 'Simfoni Budaya — Keroncong & Ghazal' concert slated for March 2," he said.

Asked about his observation of the audiences who turned up for shows in 2023, up for shows during 2023, Salonga said it was encouraging to perform for many many first-timers.

"It was very encouraging to see such a wide range of concert-goers for our classical music concerts, tribute to Teresa Teng's concert, 'Raya Sepanjang Zaman' and 'Dayang Nurfaizah With MPO' concerts, Genshin and Anime concerts, as well as 'Star Wars' and family-themed concerts.

"I observed many social media posts by first-time members of the audience for the MPO concerts and I hope we can continue to reach more Malaysians.

"We are fortunate to have this orchestra and this venue in KL, and we are all very happy to see people enjoying themselves at our concerts," he said.

Salonga is upbeat about 2024 and hopes that more music lovers will be able to experience the magic of the MPO and DFP.

"Music brings people together and orchestral concerts are events where lifetime memories are made.

"It's truly a great experience and can be life-changing to the people who take part in them.

"In 2024, we look forward to making memories with more people, as well as providing the best orchestral experience possible for everyone in Malaysia."

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