Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue – Plato
In his latest column, All Kinds of Everything, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim wrote that the Petronas Philharmonic Hall is one of Tun Dr. Mahathir’s great gifts to the nation and for putting Malaysia on the global map for classical music. In the column, Zaid also suggested that young Malaysians, especially from smaller towns to be given the opportunity to watch performances at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. I fully agree with him.
Me too, frequently ask the same question like he did, why RTM and other TV stations in Malaysia cannot televise the world class orchestra performances? It puzzles him as well as me. In foreign countries, performances from the philharmonic or symphony orchestra were frequently aired by their TV stations. In China, there is even a dedicated channel by the state owned CCTV that air performances round the clock.
For a long time, I’ve always advocate that classical music must be made available to all Malaysians, young and old and we should have more performances in Malaysia which I still think lacks the excitement as compared to Singapore. Like what Plato said, music is the education of virtue, and music can change people from the inside. Above all, music is regarded as one of the many important means to instill patriotism in people and of course, the propaganda.
Some years ago, when I was in Central Asia during my Silk Road adventure, I came across many former gulags with theatres! We were told that in Soviet Union, Stalin had decided that even in gulags, music and performances must go hand in hand with forced labor. "They played the orchestra or opera here every other night," remarked my guide. I am not surprised. After all, Russia has produced many great composers, including my favorite Tchhaikovsky and many of those send to gulags were the best of artists and intellectuals and actors.
I am a big fan of classical music and opera. I enjoy the listening to the classical music and watching the opera from the classical West and Whimsical East. When I know of a particular performance, I will not hesitate to splurge on the best seat or make a trip to Singapore or other cities just for it, even alone. I always find my peace and relaxation when I listen to the orchestra.
Apart from that, I am a big fan of the late Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. I was so glad that I made it to his concert in Kuala Lumpur on the night of 5th May last year while the nation waits for the result of the general election and some others worry about riot
When I was in primary one, I hate it when dad insisted I must go to piano classes, always finding excuses to skip going until they gave up. Then, somehow dad’s stereo system at home works the magic for he will always play the pieces by Strauss whenever he felt the need for relaxation. It didn’t take long before I asked to be enrolled in piano classes again. Mom was so thrilled that she bought a piano immediately after I started going back to class. It is sad that the piano is now a decoration item at home for I’d returned the notes that I’ve learned back to the teacher and hardly touches the piano during my trips home. Looking back, now I understand why mom and dad wanted so much for me to go for piano classes. Duh!
It is always in my wish that there will be more demand for classical music and opera in Kuala Lumpur so that we will have performances in town every night to add zest to our stressful city folks and making Kuala Lumpur a truly vibrant city. Sponsorship by other government link companies and the private sector should also be encouraged in a big way. Talking about this, I am always thankful to the YTL Group for sponsoring many of the world class classical performances in Malaysia and for always inviting me.
Cynics will say that it is a waste of money for Petronas to sponsor the Philharmonic Orchestra while most people will say they will fall asleep listening to the classical music, however, I am in the opinion that one must try to appreciate it and be open to the change of worldview that one will experience before giving down an unfair judgment. There is also a thing or two that one can learn from the conductor when watching him render classical music with gusto.
Just like golf, classical music is no longer just for the elite class as it once was. So, let the music plays for all.