After my long silence from the school band scene, I joined the rest and watched the SBP Wind Orchestra Competition for 2008.
I am quite happy that this year, regardless that Malaysians couldn’t afford to have that centralized condensed microphone (like Japanese orchestras always have), at least the conventional microphones did quite well. With the help of the microphones, we can still listen to the bands no matter where we were seated, and the sound quality was the least being distorted. And the balance of the whole orchestra sound is still maintained. Good.
Tunku Kurshiah and MCKK have shown signs of improvement for these few years. I was entertained by both of these schools during the finals. They should keep up with the good work.
SERATAS, managed to get third place, played a piece written by Suhaimi Yacob- somewhere around Grade 3+, and a western piece of the above average level of concert band.
The thing about this orchestra is that they are doing good- only that they lack of feel, no dynamics, the volume and strength was the same from the beginning to the end. The band can look into this as the next step to improve. Do not be monotonous.
Alam Shah, which got second place, played Rhapsody for Hanukah and a later version of Suhaimi’s Tanah Pusaka.
Rhapsody for Hanukah, regardless that the title sounds impressive, is not to my liking at all. The first time I listened to it on CD, it pretty much sound like an average concert band piece, a medley of Jewish festive songs. As I actually listened to the orchestra playing on the competition day, it’s nothing more than the same genre of Anastasia (the soundtrack), played by the wind orchestra of Universiti Malaya, years ago. Entertaining, yes. Impressive and will make you win, no. It’s not a competition piece- it’s just a concert performance piece.
I’ve discussed this with a few well-known local wind orchestra experts, and they agree with me that this piece is not worth the difficulty level. Just looking at the score arrangement, there is a risk that this piece will sound empty- as in not richly sounded. Any easier (but not simple) piece like Ross Roy or Ovation Overture could outwit this piece. And true enough, no matter how much effort- dynamics and feel you put into performing this song, it will still sound like an average concert band piece played well.
Salute for the orchestra for playing this piece very well, regardless that having to play this song was a big mistake.
As for the Malay piece, it’s not surprising that the boys did very well at the beginning and in the end, except for the additional part in the middle of it. It’s a little bit disappointing that something beautifully and impressively written by Suhaimi Yacob, was not portrayed well by the orchestra. It’s like a sandwich with high quality bread but cheap tuna in the middle.
I admire the new way of Suhaimi Yacob’s arrangement, but too bad it was not being played well during the competition.
Seri Puteri, all girls school, won the trophy for year 2008. They deserved the win, after ten years waiting and finally they’ve got it!
The orchestra played Omisoka, a fun version of Itaru Sakai, cheesy as it seems- but it’s in my list of favorites in my walkman phone. It was a clever decision to choose an easier piece, and work it out, instead of trying to do Candide Overture, over and over again.
They took the advantage of the rich arrangement of this piece, but it is advisable that they should improve in their sound for Omisoka, because it’s still sounds rough. They still lack of that Japanese band kick- light yet rich, smooth yet grand.
They played the classic Permaidani by Suhaimi, also added with a new bridge in the middle. The trumpets really managed to play tightly but controlled the sound so as not to blast. Really enjoyed that. But as for the bridge, again, they really need to work it out. Still sounded a little bit messy, especially for the trumpet part. The woodwinds and the xylophone did well though. Nice and cute.
We were happy that the girls finally won the competition. All of us joined the whole hall and gave a big clap.