Sayyid Shafiee.

FROM Victoria Institution KL’s marching band to composing original orchestral pieces, Sayyid Shafiee is chuffed that his work, Invisible Pace, will be showcased at the SoundBridge Festival 2017.

“My love for music was ignited when I was selected to join Victoria Institution Cadet Corps Band to play the saxophone,” recalls the 30-year-old who went on to study music at University Teknologi Mara.

“While actively performing on the sax from 2007, my interest to compose music gradually developed. Having my own works performed in front of people proved more satisfying, and I slowly moved forward from performing to composing,” he says.

Sayyid studied with Assoc Prof Dr Tazul Tajuddin at UiTM, and is now reading for his doctorate in composition at Britain’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he will be attending his Viva at the end of this year.

“As a composer, I believe we are always looking for the opportunity to get inspired from our surroundings.”

He adds that he was always interested in the visual arts, which displays underlying thoughts from its artist.

Choosing the Spanish architecture of Antoni Gaudi, he used it to access and combine it with music.

“Invisible Pace (2017) was constructed with minimal musical materials, employed in a way to differentiate between two contrasting sounds.

“Both play similar Javanese minor arpeggios written in two different keys and registers. A series of numbers, forming irregular metres were created by manipulating the arrangement of the columns, rows and regions within the whole block of the Magic Square found in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

“These complex time signatures are a controlled element, where all the musical content must be carefully composed within these irregular metres. This piece managed to create contrasts in rhythmic density throughout the piece, as the musical subject disappears in the middle of the piece and gradually returns towards the end. This idea inspired the title, Invisible Pace, which refers to that lost or unseen pace.”

Sayyid’s piece is indicative of the kind of music to expect at this third bi-annual contemporary music festival.

SoundBridge 2017 artistic director Prof Chong Kee Yong says: “Southeast Asian countries with blossoming avant-garde music scenes and the Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (SMCC), as well as my Studio C team seek to help forge a connection between them by introducing original music of local Malaysian composers and composers from the world to the music scene of Malaysia.

“Sound, as the most basic parameter of music, can establish bridges between cultures and if put in the context of music, is an ideal medium for learning about each other.”

So the concerts take on this overarching theme into cross-media collaboration between contemporary music and traditional music — traditional dance, modern dance, visual arts, painting, improvisation or live electronics.

In the upcoming SoundBridge 2017, in addition to three main concerts, five educational events are offered, including a mini-lecture and flute recital by Japanese flautist Daiske Kino-Shita, open rehearsals, and Southeast Asian young composers’ workshops.

Choirs are also on the bill for the concerts. Prof Chong says: “A few local choirs are winning prizes in international choir competitions. I was very proud of them and approached their conductors Susanna Saw and Mak Chi Hoe to ask them to participate in our festival and sing original compositions from our Malaysian composers.

“Our festival guest choirs such as MIA ladies chorus and Young Choral Academy Chorus are offering music from Bela Bartok and other 20th century choir repertoires.”

About 60 SMCC composers, guest composers, musicians and artistes from around the world, including the region, are on board for the weekend festival. World premieres are on the billing. The composers include Tazul of Puteri Saadong opera fame, Dieter Mack (Germany), Conrado del Rodario (the Philippines), Ho Chee Kong (Singapore), Zou Xiang Ping (China), Jiradej Setabundhu and Prinda Setabundhu (Thailand), Michael Asmara (Indonesia) and Prof Chong himself.

— by Subhadra Devan

subhadra@nst.com.my

FACT BOX:

SoundBridge 2017

When: Today (Oct 7)

Where: Black Box, Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya.

Festival pass: RM75, single show tickets: RM30. Call 017-382 8637.

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