Music from the heart

The Operafest Children's Choir from Malaysia, which will perform at the Bishop Cotton Girls' School on December 7.

The Operafest Children's Choir from Malaysia, which will perform at the Bishop Cotton Girls' School on December 7.  

AN IMPOSSIBLE-TO-MISS landmark in Bangalore is gearing up for its 200th birthday in 2008, and St. Mark's Cathedral hopes to have its Rs. one crore St. Mark's Resource Centre completed by then. Fund-raising has begun in earnest, and in the most melodious Yuletide one could ever imagine.

The Operafest Children's Choir from Malaysia will perform on December 7 at the Bishop Cotton Girls' School Auditorium, under the baton of Kam Sun-Yoke. "There's music in every child, and I can make any child learn, sing, and enjoy the experience," says Sun-Yoke, who started her choir in 1986, and has had hundreds of school children aged 9 to 17 clamouring to sing in her troupe.

The Operafest has always had the wanderlust, and performances in Spain, Greece, Australia, Singapore, and Macedonia and the U.S. have fetched several awards too. Sun-Yoke, who "never was passionately in love with the British", nevertheless loved the music they taught in the schools. And she chose to teach children to love choir music after hearing the "wonderful Singapore Youth Choir", so that they could be inspired.

But she is candid enough to admit that when she first set out, it was to be just an ego trip — to prove to the world that Asian children can sing as well as, if not better, than their European counterparts. It was that wee bit resentment over British rule rearing its ugly head.

She put that behind her soon enough, and music became an education, celebration, and adoration of life. She had already begun doing her bit to save Malaysia, and people from other nations too, from turning into a "soulless nation of robots", where the deification of the dollar is a religion and "all our treasured values are in danger of being lost forever to figures, computers, and electronics".

There is a strong belief in the eternal quality of her music too. Sun-Yoke, who says she has this love-hate relationship with her students in the course of dredging out the music latent in them, says "as long as my children have a song in their little hearts, as long as there are many savage hearts to soothe, we shall continue to share joyously the beauty of music". On Saturday, the children will be accompanied by Yap Yin Fong and will perform an exciting blend of songs from various operas, Broadway hits, and carols at various colleges and schools. The performance on Saturday will be in costume.

By Alladi Jayasri

Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

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