AFTER years of not attending a Malay traditional concert, I expected some ‘wow’ factor at the recent Selasihku Sayang concert, an effort that was the collaborative result of the Arts and Culture Department (JKKN), Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) and City Hall.

The idea of witnessing living Melayu Asli legends like Datuk Andre Goh, Aspalela Abdullah and Datuk Dr. Johari Salleh perform alongside young talents like Dayang Nurfaizah was indeed inviting, at first.

The concert, however, fell below expectation as it turned out to be reunion of Bintang Asli – a Melayu Asli competition that was held close to two decades, from 1996-2014.

It was refreshing to see young talents and new faces belting out timeless pieces from the intricate genre, such as the popular Empat Dara, Manira, Embun Menitik, Gurindam Jiwa, Pasir Roboh, Sri Banang, Zapin Bunga Hutan, Hari Ribut, Sri Kedah and more.

— Pic courtesy of DFP
Datuk Andre Goh stuns audience with his powerful vocal prowess while performing two evergreen hits during the concert. — Pic courtesy of DFP

Yes, it’s an applaudable effort but I personally felt that the new singers should have gone through intensive rehearsals and vocal training before being granted access on such prestigious stage, to sing such delicate songs.

The orchestra – one that’s always been talked about in good light – was too loud that it was drowning the voices of the singers, at times.

The new singers too, weren’t doing much justice as they failed to deliver the lower notes with clarity. Their over embellished bridal ensembles seem to take over all the attention.

There were too many high notes breaking the symphony and some turned out to be completely soulless.

— Pic courtesy of DFP
Aspalela Abdullah singing all-time Melayu Asli favourite ‘Damak’. — Pic courtesy of DFP

After about 30 minutes or so, Aspalela Abdullah made her appearance but she was only given the time and space for one song, the all-time favourite Damak.

The dashing Andre Goh, who donned a simple red baju melayu, samping and songkok only appeared about 30 minutes before the concert ended. He delivered a medley of Mas Merah and Joget Jambu Merah, much to perfection.

Special appearance by the Seniman Negara saxophonist, Datuk Dr. Ahmad Nawab delighted many hearts as he belted out the popular Bunga Tanjung.

Then there were Dayang and Akademi Fantasia Season 4 former contestant, Haziq Rosebi who captured many hearts with their soulful performances.

Dayang, who appeared simply elegant in a black kebaya, designed by Rizalman Ibrahim, stunned the audience with a medley of Keroncong Kuala Lumpur and Patah Hati, while Haziq performed Sri Mersing and Zapin Raub very well.

— Pic courtesy of DFP
The City Hall (DBKL) Orchestra seen on the background with the entire ensemble of performers at the end of the ‘Selasihku Sayang’ concert.— Pic courtesy of DFP

Both of them carried on with a duet and delivered the theme song of the concert, Selasihku Sayang.

There were hits and misses but overall, we have to applaud JKKN, DFP and DBKL’s effort in preserving the valuable tradition of Melayu Asli.

The genre, however, shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can’t pick just any Andak, Mamat or Siti to do justice to this beautiful, gentle genre of music. A Melayu Asli singer need a soul that’s connected to the genre not just a good vocal.

Above all, a good performance doesn’t need an over embellished ensemble. Less is always more.

*Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not necessarily reflect the views of The Rakyat Post

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