– A Long-lasting Friendship with Magong Wind Band, National Magong High School, Taiwan

Jointly by:
Isabel Goh Ern ZI (Sr1ScB)
Ng Choon Hau (Sr1A) 

Under the blinding lights of the stage and anticipating gazes of the audience, the Kuen Cheng Wind Orchestra held a concert entitled Music-Peace-Harmony hand in hand with Magong Wind Band of our sister school, the National Magong High School from Taiwan. This year, Ma Kong Wind Band was featured as a guest orchestra, presenting their unique and alluring character. Our Wind Orchestra had previously visited Ma Kong Wind Band in 2017 and performed together in the Performing Arts Theatre of Magong. Both bands had managed to create a one of a kind experiences for the audience through their boldly different styles and choices of music. (8)

The night unveiled with the playing of the respective national anthem of Malaysia and Taiwan by both bands. With a sure pace, March Shinning Road was presented by the Kuen Cheng Wind Orchestra. This piece was carried by clear melodies which showcased the unique timbre of wind instruments by creating a dialogue between the woodwind and the brass while being supported by the percussion. Following that was a tone poem by Satoshi Yagisawa, entitled Like the Eagle We Soar and Rise. The effort and contributions of educators and teachers were painted through vivid melodies, rhythms, tones as well as harmony. The baton was then taken over by another famous piece in the wind orchestra world, Warabe-Uta Fantasy. A story of childhood dreams and fantasies were told in this lively and beautiful piece. Beep beep beep beep… the Wind Orchestra then skilfully depicted our favourite childhood hero, Ultraman through Japanese Graffiti VIII- Ultra Daishugou! This nostalgic piece had all of the audience walking down memory lane as different settings of an Ultraman episode was painted through music. (10)

Ma Kong Wind Band’s time to shine finally arrived as the Kuen Cheng Wind Orchestra finished the first half of their performance. First up was the BIG FOUR March. This marching song as its name suggests carries a continuously running melody and rhythm, displaying the diversity and grandness a band can reach through a strong and intensely rushed tempo. Shin’ ya Takahashi’s GOLD RUSH! The original solo intended for trumpet in the first movement of Manhattan by Philip Sparke was challenged by the coach of Ma Kong Wind Band, Mr Chen Wei Fan who played it using the trombone. As one of the highlights of the night, his piece which had a distinctive blues vibe depicted a Saturday night in a jazz bar in Manhattan. Its alluring melody played smoothly and flawlessly on the trombone was reminiscent of a warm hug on a cold night. Then to alleviate the mood, an arrangement of the classic song, Grandma’s Peng Hu Bay for bands entitled March on Grandma’s Peng Hu Bay was presented by the awe-inspiring Ma Kong Wind Band.  The band carried on with The Battle of Lepanto, a powerful piece of music which pictured the naval engagement in the gulf of Patras during the battle of Lepanto. A short intermission followed the daunting Battle of Lepanto. (9)

With visualisations of a lake and a blooming ecosystem in its chords, Northland Pines was presented by the Ma Kong Wind Band. The band once again successfully brought out the flavours and textures of the music to depict the majestic forests in this overture. Remember me…though I have to say goodbye… The mood took a complete turn in this arrangement of the song Remember Me from Disney Pixar’s film, Coco. This piece opens in a ballad style, sending chills down the spines of the audience then transcends to a livelier pace through the Mariachi Style. A Waltz for Wind Orchestra and Tom Zhang medley were also presented proudly by the band, further showcasing the young talent as well as the diversity of band music. For their final piece of the night, Ma Kong Wind band presented a rather playful and fun rendition of the classic song, Can’t Take My Eyes of You. Players moved their instruments simultaneously, with the trumpets and trombones moving their instruments in formation, and the bassist spinning his upright bass while alternating between a sitting and standing position. People were on their feet, swaying along to the beat of the music, with some even dancing and singing along. This familiar piece of music has left the audience with a huge impact, putting on a perfect full stop to Magong High School’s story of the night. (11)

As the home orchestra, the Kuen Cheng Wind Band retook the stage to present their four final pieces of the night. The mood was quickly set through an arrangement of Itulah Sayang, by legendary, beloved artist, P. Ramlee. This piece was originally featured in the film Anak-ku Sazali which P. Ramlee himself had also acted in, playing two different roles, Hassan and Sazali. Next up was Animation Medley, featuring the music from the greatest works of renowned director, Miyazaki Hayao. This medley comprised themes from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso as well as My Neighbour Totoro. This medley resonated with audience of all ages through its variety of styles and the popularity of Miyazaki Hayao’s films alone. The acoustic bass was then swapped with an electric bass in this phenomenon of song, Bohemian Rhapsody by the British rock band, Queen, highlighting the event once again. This song from the Queen’s album A Night at The Opera took the world by storm when it was first published as it had incorporated strikingly different styles of music never imagined to be pieced together, including ballad, opera and hard rock. To finish off the night strikingly, the audience were presented with the XInyao Medley. This medley comprises multiple Singaporean ballads penned by famous songwriters. This medley ended the night warmly through its nostalgic hints and melodies.

Applause were given by the audience generously, resonating off the walls of the hall, evident of the musicians’ effort which they had poured into perfecting the art of music along with sacrifices and hardships. The audience who did not have enough to taste soon erupted into chants for an encore. Once again, the Kuen Cheng Wind Orchestra did not disappoint and continued to serve the dessert of the night through a medley of Arukou from the film Totoro as well as the ending theme from Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Before the last chord of the music struck, waves of applause and cheer filled the hall, with a standing ovation from the audience.

In this historic night for both our school and the National Magong High School, friends were made, and music was created, erupting from flames of passion for the art of music. Different characters and flavours of both the Kuen Cheng Wind Orchestra and the Ma Kong Wind Band were brought out significantly which complimented both the orchestra and the band. The way for a greater future and stronger bonds between both schools were paved through this huge success of a stunning concert.

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