Monday, November 30, 2009

ENTERTAINMENT: Young and talented



Its members may be no older than 18 but the Allegro String Ensemble still moved the audience with their exceptional performance of Italian music. KHAIRUL ANWAR MOHAMED was there.

SILENCE and anticipation hung heavy in the cold air as the ensemble looked towards conductor John Allan.

With his hands lifted and with the precision of professionals, bows rose to meet their strings in unison.

As the brisk pace of the William Tell Overture emanated through the hall, the skill of the ensemble became apparent as the audience was taken on a journey into Italian culture. This was the beginning of a performance that would be described by a foreign prince as “a very wonderful display of talent”. The difference between the Allegro String Ensemble and many other ensembles is that most of the players are no older than 18.

Formed by the Allegro Music & Arts, the ensemble consists mainly of the school’s students led by a few teachers with Antonella Aloigi Hayes, an Italian violinist whose skill is rivalled only by her passion, at the helm. Organised by the Italian Embassy, the recent concert was accompanied by a photo exhibition by 17-year-old Italian photographer Virginia Cucchi.

Something that is commonly seen in musicians is that passionate immersion into their music: the children of the Allegro String Ensemble were no exception.

One talented cellist was so caught up in the melody that it was easy to have mistaken him for someone older and more steeped in the music.

For Hayes, “music is very much about passion and perhaps the greatest joy for a musician is to witness the audience moved by his/her music”. The ensemble must have been very pleased as many in the audience wept at the sheer beauty of the works.

As the concert progressed, the audience was taken on a journey that shifted with the pace of the music.

One moment they may feel jubilantly high listening to Verdi’s Aida-Marcia Trionfale but in the next are humbled into a solemn contemplation by Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor.

While it was a journey shared by all present, each was coloured by the individual listener’s own experiences.

At the end of the show, in true Italian fashion, cries of “Bravo! Bravo!” were heard over the din of applause and the crowd called out “Encore!” The ensemble had a surprise up their sleeve for just such an event. Breaking away from the night’s theme of Italian music, the ensemble paid homage to the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee by performing his classic number, Getaran Jiwa.

The audience cheered and the Allegro String Ensemble did not disappoint as it brought the classic song to life. The audience, with many other students and their parents in the audience, was largely made up of Italians living and working here in Malaysia.

They included the Italian Ambassador Alesandro Busacca and Prince Norodom Ranariddh of Cambodia. When asked, Busacca said: “I am very happy with this concert as it is a beautiful display of Italian culture and history”.

He went on to say that the ensemble’s selection “showcased some of the most beautiful pieces of Italian classical music”. The Allegro Music & Arts principal Esther Law was pleased with her students.

“The ensemble, in the 10 years since its formation in 1999 by Allan, has made me very proud. Our school frequently holds concerts such as this.” Allegro Music & Arts Sdn Bhd offers courses that range from classical instruments to fine art and dance.

Established in 1992, the studio accepts anyone with an interest in music and art, be they budding musicians or adults looking for a new hobby.

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