Published on Saturday, 01 May 2010 22:50
Written by Bruce Gale
Meeting Pay Foong Band
Idid not have enough money for airline tickets, so this tour began with band members boarding a ferry at North Sumarta's main port of Belawan. The trip to the Malaysian Island of Penang took about 7 hours. From there I arranged for a bus to take the band across the Penang bridge and then south through Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and then on to Singapore.
Accommodation - and most of the food! - in Malaysia was provided by the Salvation Army's boys homes in Penang, Ipoh and Malacca. In Singapore, we stayed at facilities provided by the Salvation Army's William Booth college of mission.
It was all done on a shoestring budget, but band members enjoyed themselves enormously, giving performances in many locations along the way. One particularly memorable event was was our performance outside the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. Then there was the football match in Ipoh between band members and some boys from a local village. Needless to say, Indonesia beat Malaysia 6-1!
As for me, I will never forget the panic just before a major concert with Pay Fong band in Malacca. One of the players told me he had lost the mouthpiece to his tuba after a performance at a shopping complex that afternoon. A desperate search of the stage area failed to find the missing item, and the boy was forced to play the tuba that night using an ill-fitting euphonium mouthpiece instead. I could have strangled him later when he discovered that he had put the mouthpiece in his luggage for safe keeping!
Other details of the trip are given below:
Meeting Pay Foong Band
The Medan Band joined the Pay Foong Secondary concert band and the Catholic High Concert Band in Malacca (Malaysia) for their annual school concert. The massed bands played two pieces before performing separately. Here is a picture taken of part of the Medan Band percussion section (in red and blue T-shirts) during one of the intensive joint rehearsals just days before the concert. At the beginning of the concert, we exchanged gifts with the representatives of Pay Foong band. Our gift to them was a photograph of the Medan Band with the signatures of all band members on it. The greeting read Kami senang memainkan dengan anda! (We enjoyed playing with you!).
Here is a picture of the full band tuning up before our concert in Singapore on November 18, 2005. It was held at the Salvation Army's Bishan auditorium.
And here is 12-year old Eben playing his solo accompanied by the band. A hit with audiences (especially the girls!) in both Malacca and Singapore, Eben plays remarkably well for someone of his age.
We also had a quartet made up of four of the younger boys. They chose their own music (not listed below).
Although the timing of the visit to Malaysia and Singapore did not allow the band to meet as many Malaysian and Singaporean musicians as we had initially hoped, the tour was an outstanding success. Everywhere the band played, audiences expressed surprise at the standard the band had achieved. This was especially so given the lack of access to well qualified music teachers in Medan, as well as that city's relative isolation from the Western musical mainstream.
Here is a list of the repertoire the band played. Those familiar with Salvation Army brass band music may like to compare it with the sort of pieces we played in November 2004 to get some idea of the extent to which the band progressed in the intervening 12 months. As you can see, I have tried to get the band to play music encompassing a wide range of musical styles.
Band Signature Tune
I love Thy Kingdom James Anderson
Be Valiant and Strong Ray Bowes
Gospel Train David Jones
Rondeau J. Mouret (Arr. Peter Graham)
It's a Great Day Trevor Worthington
Smile Douglass Kiff (Arr. Leonard Ballantine)
Moses James Cheyne
Just a Closer Walk Eiliv Herikstad
Indonesian Folk Songs
Salute to Medan Noel Jones
Piso Surit Arr. Bruce Gale
Tano Niha Arr. Bruce Gale
Happy Harmony Dean Goffin
God Cares James Curnow
His Wonderful Love Chris Mallet
Freedom Ray Steadman-Allen
Fill the World With Music Erik Silverberg
Hymn Tune Settings
Burning, Burning William Himes
Crown Him Lord of All Wilfred Kitching