After much delay and waiting, finally on the evening of 16 October, the Esplanade Concert Hall will be filled with a selection of traditional, fusion and pop numbers by a gamelan, percussion and pop ensemble. In celebration of their 20th anniversary this year, the Orkestra Melayu Singapura (OMS) will be staging its best performance yet, with a stellar concert that extends well beyond an auditory experience. Entitled Jendela (Window in Malay), it will be a vision of inspiration through five themic windows of music.
Produced by Muhammad Najib Soiman, the concert attests to the orchestra’s versatility and virtuosity as a whole, while illustrating the eclectic mix of musical talents that have been nurtured by it through the years. From a small orchestra, the OMS has grown into a well-respected music organisation that includes different extensions, and their very own youth wing.
Performing original arrangements such as Rentak 2000, Eastern Vibes, and Arts Crossing, the orchestra will also play a selection of traditional, fusion, and pop numbers that will underscore their musical proficiency.
Also taking to the stage are special guests – Malaysian ’90s pop sensation Aishah local hip hop group SleeQ and Singapore’s very own world instrumental musicians OrkeStar Trio, two of whom started their music journey with OMS.
The OMS formed its youth wing, OMS (Belia) in March 2004, with the objective of introducing different genres of Malay music to our youths, be it traditional, contemporary or pop music. At present, there are 30 youth musicians in OMS (Belia) and the number is still growing.
The OMS is dedicated to preserving the essence of traditional Malay music while contributing to its sustained development in Singapore. Since its formation, OMS has given more than 500 local performances at major national and community events. It is a favourite at functions organised by the Malay community. It has also been very well received at all its overseas performances in countries such as Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea for its engaging and soulful rendition of traditional and modern Malay music. In 2007, OMS was invited to stage a special concert at the Tong Tong Festival in The Netherlands.
A recent interview with the OMS conductor of 16 years, Mr Jais Minsawi, during their rehearsal for Jendela at People’s Association Headquarters recently, was tight-lipped about the production. Graduated from the Defence School of Music. Melbourne, Australia and has a Licentiate Diploma in tuba performance from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Currently a professional musician in the Singapore Armed Forces Central Band, Mohd Jais started out as a pioneer member of Orkestra Melayu Singapura and was the Conductor of OMS from 1995 – 2008.
Currently he also conducts the Ain Society Kulintang Orchestra and serves as the Cultural and Music Coordinator of Bukit Batok Malay Activity Executive Committee. He was appointed as the Assistant Music Director of OMS in 2009.
This is what he has to say!
What can the audiences expect from Jendela?
I do not want to say what will be presented, but I hope for a large crowd on 16 October. It’s a surprise!
What are the differences in Jendela compared to previous performances from the OMS?
The music for Jendela is more vibrant as compared to previous performances. It is also more modern but we still keep the traditional characteristics in the performance. We want to do it in the Singapore style of music.
What is the highlight performance for Jendela?
There will be performances from a new group, Sleeq, and a veteran singer, Aishah.
Among many artistes, why are Aishah and Sleeq chosen to be featured in Jendela?
We chose Aishah because we see her as a Malay icon, be it in Malaysia or in Singapore. As for Sleeq, they have a lot of fans, so we called them to collaborate with Aishah to create a fun experience for the audiences.
What is the biggest challenge faced in preparing for Jendela?
The biggest challenge is to bring the standard of our Malay music to a professional level which can be made proud by our local Malay community.
How has the OMS grown in these 20 years?
From a small ensemble band, we have now become a semi-professional orchestra. We currently have approximately 20 professional musicians in our orchestra.
What are the current developments for the OMS?
We have many! We are planning to go to Malaysia and Indonesia to learn traditional music from them. When we come back here, we will do it in our Singapore way.
Over the years that you were the conductor for the OMS, what is the incident that you can never forget until today?
While I am here, there are musicians who got married to each other and their children also play musical instruments with us. When I look at it, we are like one big family. I think that is the most beautiful thing in Orkestra Melayu Singapura. We are actually one big family. We want to have that rapport and we want our music to sound like a big orchestra, a family orchestra.
What is your advice to youths who want to venture into the orchestra music field in Singapore?
In Singapore? If you work hard, I think you can go far! You have to work very hard. I think Singapore is opening up to become an arts scene location. We have professional groups like SAF band and the Police band, so why not join them and make the music scene better than before!
What do you want to say to all the OMS fans?
I want to thank everyone who has given their support to the Orkestra Melayu Singapura since 1991. If there are any of you who are interested to become a part of us, send us your names through our website at http://www.orkestramelayusingapura.org and we will contact you.
A snippet from the rehearsals, Malaysian ’90s pop sensation Aishah, singing “Camar Yang Pulang”.
This songs brings back so much memories of the 90’s. 🙂
I totally love this concert. This definately inspire me to go back to Gamelan and making traditional music in a bigger way after such a long break!
More info at: http://www.orkestramelayusingapura.org
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