Festival to support Malaysia’s future music stars


Graduates from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire are coming together to host a fundraising concert in Malaysia that will support the next generation of talent to study at the UK music institution.

Taking place at the British International School of Kuala Lumpur between Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Alumni Music Festival will feature performances and masterclasses from acclaimed Malaysian musicians including choral conductor Chi Hoe Mak, composer Ainolnaim Azizol, singers Yik Ling Bui and Terence Au, saxophonist Eddy Lim, and pianists Samuel Tan, Jo Yee Iau and Jeanette Wong, the later who is based in UK.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham City University

Chi Hoe Mak will be conducting a 110-member strong choir – comprising performers from award-winning groups based at SMK Damansara Jaya and SMK Kepong – while composer Ainolnaim Azizol has written a piece especially for the Festival, which will receive its world premiere during the public concert that will close the weekend.

Also appearing during the Festival will be Taiwanese pianist I-Hsuan Peng and singer Grace Kuo, German flautist Oliver Wild, Hong Kong bassoonist Kevin Lee and, from the UK, drummer Jim Bashford, conductor Kevin Field and violinist Rachael Parry.

Proceeds donated

Supported by Frontier Learning Centre and Infra Design, the Music Festival is open to talented musicians of all ages, and all proceeds will be donated to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Musician’s Benevolent Fund for Malaysians.

All participants will receive coaching and tutoring from a specialist team of highly skilled musicians, international performers and graduates of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire across a mixture of masterclasses, workshops and open rehearsals – covering piano, strings, vocals, woodwind, jazz and conducting – which will all culminate in a Festival Concert by the faculty of alumni artists.

In addition, talks will be taking place regarding studying music in the UK and the ‘art of auditioning’ for music colleges and conservatories, as well as the music profession as a whole.

Established last year, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Musician’s Benevolent Fund for Malaysians, which can be used towards living expenses and further music training activities, was the idea of pianist and Birmingham Conservatoire alumna, Jeanette Wong, from Kuala Lumpur. 

Since 2009, she has worked exclusively for the institution assisting with student recruitment in Malaysia and Singapore, and it was through developing relationships with Malaysian students, as well as reflecting on her own experiences, that she saw the necessities of such a fund:

“Living in Birmingham, I get to spend time with Malaysian musicians studying in the UK and find out how each of them is doing. It is not uncommon that most of them are working part time to get by, and any extra expenses, like instrument repair and maintenance or attending additional courses during term breaks – all essential for their music studies – could become a financial burden if it wasn’t for the Benevolent Fund.

World class institution

Part of Birmingham City University, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a world class institution providing exceptional training for the musicians, actors, stage managers and performers of the future. Since 1998, more than 40 Malaysian students have graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, with upwards of 90 per cent continuing their career as a musician or teaching at university level.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City University is the biggest provider of creative courses in England outside London and the UK’s most successful recruiter for art and design in Malaysia and China.

Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said:

“Malaysia continues to be a very important country for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and we are proud to welcome young and gifted Malaysian musicians to be part of our friendly and global student community.

“I speak for the whole Conservatoire family when I say I am extremely proud of our distinguished alumni in Asia, not just because of their achievements as musicians and performers, but also because of their commitment to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s objective to create opportunities for developing young talent. The Alumni Festival not only aligns perfectly with this central pillar of our mission but also provides an opportunity to celebrate our presence in Asia through our talented and dedicated alumni.

“Another of our objectives is to support and assist our students if they face financial hardship during their studies, in order to allow them to focus on their priority and ours – that every student should achieve their own personal best during their time with us. I’m delighted to say that our generous alumni help us towards this goal as well and all the proceeds from the Alumni Festival will go towards the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Musician’s Benevolent Fund for Malaysians.”

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