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A concert review by Dr. Francis Tan

Stepping inside Penang PAC on 23rd April 2023 was a treat of a musical TAPESTRY. It was equivalent to an open house celebration befitting Hari Raya.

Penang Philharmonic Chorus, Artistic Director Mak Chi Hoe and Penang Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Choral Conductor Tan Jin Yin, and their singers put on a very commendable and entertaining performance of choral music both accompanied and acapella, cutting across so many genres like colourful threads.

The audience was entertained to a rendition of songs ranging from semi-classical (Jubilate Deo), Congolese canon (Banaha), Gospel (How Can I Keep from Singing), Religious (Be Thou My Vision), traditional Malay Archipelago folk (Rasa Nusantara), Chinese (Ye Lai Xiang), or just popular favourites (When I Fall in Love and You’ll Never Walk Alone).

Most memorable was a number called Lost Voices a compilation of folk songs from Portuguese Kristang, Malay (Bengawan Solo), Baba Nonya, and rounded off by Cho Lang Ay Tai Chee * (loosely translated as the Problems of Human Life): Hokkien ditties collected and set to music referring to conundrums that arise when you lie, cheat, steal, envy, think bad of others. A reminder of do’s and don’ts in order to lead a goodly life.

The music, vocal harmonies were melodious, the rhythms finger-snapping and foot-tapping, and the accompanying animation was great. The choristers’ attire was simple, emphatic and effective. It was an experience listening to a rendition of the American traditional folksong Oh Shenandoah being sung by colorful kebaya-clad ladies and “cow boys” in all-black.

Massive credit to Jin Yin and Chi Hoe for their coaching, conducting, choral and musical arrangements and well done to all the members of both choirs for a fine performance.

Do look out for the next performance of PPC, PPCC and PPO coming up on June 25th 2023.

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