Last week, I got to enjoy a one of a kind Family Fun Day at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Let’s Build and Band was led by Conductor/Presenter Kevin Hathaway. From the title, I really didn’t know what to expect. How will we be building a band, I wondered. Entering the hall with my 6 year old son, I realised that the seats were all empty, non of the musicians have entered the hall as they usually do. Something must be amiss.
Kevin Hathaway was dressed in a foreman’s suit while sitting on the floor. 2 minutes after I sat down, he started talking to the audience. I thought, how interesting but Family Fun Days are like that, always full of surprises. That is why I love attending these programmes. Looking through the programme booklet, I found out that the conductor is seriously very talented and probably a musical prodigy. He started playing drums at 6, piano at 8, trombone at 10. I thought letting my kids learn 2 instruments is more than enough, maybe I can reconsider. Anyways, Kevin started asking us to stand up and clap. He divided the hall into four sections and asked us to clap according to different beats. This was the first time that I actually stood up various times in the orchestra.
When the time came for the show the start with the first piece Bolero by Maurice Ravel, I realised the musicians didn’t come in from the stage entrance. They started sitting with the audience. Jordan was really excited to see the Cello up close and the trumpet so near by. As they played, the musicians moved slowly to their seats and sections by sections of the orchestra started to assemble. Interestingly, not all sections played together, we witnessed the strings only piece, the brass only, and the woodwinds only making it more remarkable than ever. The orchestra were all dressed in construction worker’s clothing, the length they took to entertain the young ones.
Besides just being performed as a whole for each piece, the harp was moved to center stage to showcase it’s amazing musical ability. The harp to me is one of the most enchanting instrument. The giant instrument with multiple pedals and strings produces the most beautiful heavenly music. We enjoyed pieces like Fiddle Faddle from Anderson, Suite Lyrique: Ostinato by Rutter, Black and White Rag by Botsford and more fun pieces like Tico-Tico no fuba by Abreu ( arr. Iveson).
We were even treated to a duet on the xylophone. The xylophone produces a really enchanting sound and both the conductor Kevin and the xylophonist have a magical chemistry as they played, knowing exactly where the other is going to go and move. It was like watching a dance in a way, most entertaining overall.
Near the end towards the last piece, we began to find out why we were taught to clap and stomp our feet earlier. Apparently, we had rehearsed on the spot for and Audience Percussion Piece. A bit messy we were as not everyone would be musical, but nevertheless it was quite an experience to be interacting with the orchestra in making music. I particularly enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean piece which led me to reimagine the movie. Overall, the concert lasted 60 minutes, nothing too long for little ones that couldn’t sit still. A great experience overall for all families!
For more information about the MPO,
Telephone Bookings: 03-23317007
Email Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org
MPO website: www.mpo.com.my