The Finale… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
First entry of 2020 and funnily enough it has taken me two whole months to actually post this entry up when I was so excited to post it right after the show was done and dusted. Why it took me this long to publish this entry was because I was still waiting for photos of our local acts who had performed to be shared to my inbox and then after that I got busy with work and my own personal commitments, and its only now that I am able to post it up. Initially I did not plan to cover the concert at all and was just there to enjoy it as part of my belated post-birthday and wedding anniversary celebration with the missus. Had I planned earlier, I would probably had applied for media accreditation and would have been able to snap some photographs at my end. Anyway, before I move on, I hope the first two months of the year have been good for most of you, even though we are in the middle of a global health crisis as I speak. May we remain protected from harm and be blessed with good health cos we all know as we age, health is our most cherished and treasured blessing, above any material or financial factors.
Hyrul Anuar and Elfee Ismail performed Lesti‘s “Zapin Melayu“… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
Partly why I felt inclined to talk about this concert event was also because I wasn’t being fair the last time out Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza came to these shores for her sell-out concert last March 2019 and till this day the photographs I snapped are still half-edited due to my never-ending busy schedule, as well as my apparent loss of interest at entertainment blogging which I had explained some time back. Would really really like to apologise to the organiser of that sold-out concert, Shiraz Projects, for not coming up with a written review of that concert event, and even the Ruffedge one harking all the way back to November 2018. Since this new year and decade marks a new beginning, and with momentous events in the calendar including my pet favourite Anugerah Planet Muzik making its long-awaited return, this can be considered a mini-comeback of sorts for yours truly after what happened last year, which kinda killed my passion for the scene.
Yanni Bakri and Suryana Norddin completed the local quartet for the night… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
“Konsert Karya Agung Pak Ngah Bersama Orkestra Tradisional Malaysia & Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza” (My goodness! What a mouthful!) kicked off the new decade, just like how Dato’ Sri herself kicked off the first day of the last decade along with Dato’ M. Nasir with their “Bagaikan Sakti” concert held at the Esplanade Theatre Hall. I did not realise ten long years had passed until Dato’ Sri mentioned it during a short break in between her sets that night. Esplanade has an uncanny knack of organising a big-scale Malay concert to kick off the start of a new calendar year and this concert followed those in recent years past like Lovehunters, Salamiah Hassan and Dato’ Zainal Abidin Feat. Headwind, just to name a few. This same concert was first staged in Kuala Lumpur in mid-November 2019 at the prestigious Istana Budaya venue. Where Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza was a constant fixture in both staged concert events, for the Malaysian leg, the other four who shared the stage with her were Syamel, Rojer, Asmidar and Ernie Zakri.
Suryana Norddin did not disappoint at all during the concert… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
For most people who attended this concert in Singapore, I think it was a no-brainer who they actually came for, but yours truly was more interested to see how our four local talents in the form of Hariani Hassan Bakri (Yanni), Hyrul Anuar, Elfee Ismail and relatively newcomer, Suryana Norddin would fare when they shared the limelight with Malaysia‘s “Number One Singer” onstage. I have been a fan of Hariani‘s voice for the longest time, and I also appreciate the unique vocals which both Hyrul and Elfee possessed in abundance. Their voices are the kind where you know who they are just by listening without seeing them. As for Suryana, she is actually not a relatively newbie in the local Malay entertainment scene, but is quite low-profile and more active in the theatre scene, which I admit I am not a regular attendee to know of her talents before this. However, it says a lot about her potential if Esplanade had given her the opportunity and absolute trust to grace such a grand production such as this concert event.
A Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza traditional performance is never complete without back-up dancers, who were from Sriwana… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
A concert which was supposed to last for 90 minutes, ended up being stretched (I wouldn’t say “dragged” cos the whole concert hall didn’t feel it at all) by another hour. The first half of the concert was naturally taken up by our four earlier-mentioned local acts, taking turns singing individually and having a duet each with one another. Something inside me felt a certain sense of pride that these four talents gave their all and showed that they were the right choices to grace the occasion, even though I detected a few jittery moments. I wouldn’t hold it against them cos if I were to place myself in their shoes, I would be feeling the same way too if I knew I was performing on the same stage as Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza or even for the fact that I was performing in front of a sell-out audience, in a grand and prestigious venue, like the Esplanade Concert Hall. Something which not many can claim they have had the opportunity to do so in their music or singing careers. A feather in the cap which is worth a million memories.
Elfee Ismail had the honour of singing a duet with Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza that night… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
My only gripe if any, was that only Elfee Ismail, by virtue of being the only one of the four to have had the experience of working with the late Allahyarham Pak Ngah Suhaimi, who was given the honour to duet with Dato’ Sri herself when they sang “Bergending Dang Gong“, a popular hit made famous by the latter and the late Allahyarham Tan Sri S. M. Salim. I had expected Yanni, Hyrul and Suryana to have at least sang one song each with Dato’ Sri to really showcase the synergy between them as performers adding colour and verve to an already entertaining concert. Alas they only performed together during the closing of the concert. Oh and another gripe which I might add was the fact that none of the local acts were there during the post-concert Meet-and-Greet event. At the very least, have the four of them there to meet the lucky few who paid slightly more to meet Dato’ Sri, cos they too played their part in making the concert a resounding success.
Dato’ Sri ending the night with “Kudus Sinarmu“… (Photo by Danial Halim, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay)
The concert was true to its form, paying tribute to the works and songs composed by the late Allahyarham Pak Ngah Suhaimi, some of which I did not even know was painstakingly composed by him. He was truly a genius in his own right and was rightly called the “Father of Malaysia’s Ethnic Music“, as he fused so many cultures and instruments from the various Malaysian states into the songs he composed. Though it would have been nice to have another one of his muses, Noraniza Idris, to have graced this tribute concert in his name, just to have Dato’ Sri herself was enough to have made the sell-out audience gone home with satisfied smiles on their faces, yours truly included. Tears were shed and sniffles could be heard from the audience during the short video montage chronicling his death and funeral, a sign of respect for a man who had contributed to society through his various masterpieces. All in all, it was definitely a good start to my 2020 and hope that this calendar year will have more of such colourful entertainment on our shores!