Dance of the Wind and Sea, composed by Malaysian composer Vivian Chua is written for cello and piano. It is a fusion of Malaysian melodic and rhythmic patterns with Western harmonies.
The piece consists of three contrasting sections. The first is flexible in tempo, with the cello leading in an expressive singing style reminiscent of a ‘syair’ (poem-like prose) to a climax that rounds off the section. Here, the composer intends to express the free capricious nature of wind. The second is lyrical and expressive, evoking images of a calm and bewitching sea. The final section is lively, with the wind and sea playfully dancing with each other to a climatic end.
Vivian Chua (b.1974) graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with Honours in piano performance. She is the Principal at Ann Perreau’s Music School. She was a finalist in the MPO’s Young Composers Forum in 2003, became a panel member for the Forum in 2012 and a mentor for the Reel Time Composers Forum in 2013.
In 2015, she composed Together, in the Spirit of the Games for the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for the opening ceremony of the International Olympic Committee’s Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Her MPO 20th-anniversary commission Mercu Kegemilangan was premiered in 2017 at Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS, followed by performances at MPO tours around Malaysia and in Tokyo.
[Regarding the song Mercu Kegemilangan]: “As someone who has had the unique opportunity to arrange local songs in orchestral style for the MPO to perform since 2002, I decided to express my perspective as a Malaysian musician with a Western classical music education to celebrate what I think the MPO has come to be – an orchestra that has a rich repertoire covering a great many styles and an orchestra that has matured since its first concert in 1998. This is a piece that fuses Malaysian themes with Western Classical form and harmonies,” Vivian Chua said.
Click the image below to listen to Mercu Kegemilangan (2017).
She has arranged works for orchestras, children’s ensembles, vocal groups and artists such as for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Australian Song Company and Fingerprints, Zainal Abidin, M. Nasir and Sean Ghazi (her arrangement for Semalam won an AIM award for Best Song Arrangement in 2007).
The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) collaborates with the Malaysian Composers Collective (MCC) to present a digital audio collection themed MPOPlaysOn: Malaysian Composers Series – Vol. 1. The digital audio collection is made available on the MPO YouTube channel, MPO TV from 31 May 2021 onwards.
Related news: On July 2 earlier this year, the Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) released a statement explaining its plans to re-evaluate its business model after a year plagued by financial loss. The orchestra outlined its intention to make necessary changes in order to “remain relevant and viable in the long run, adapting to the changing times and more importantly to the requirements of its audiences.” The MPO is among the long list of orchestras around the globe that have to take such measures in order to adapt to the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic.
Established in 1998, the MPO is considered an integral part of the cultural landscape in Malaysia, through its mission of igniting wider interest in orchestral music and nurturing local musical talents. The orchestra has endured a rocky history, though, namely when it was placed under an international musicians boycott after foreign principals were fired without notice in 2012.
MPO released the statement shortly after rumours were spread that the orchestra would not be renewing its musicians’ contracts after December. However, the statement ensures that the new business model will lead the ensemble into a brighter future.
“During this transitional period, the MPO continues to explore a strategic way forward to lay the foundation for the long-term sustainability of the MPO. It remains committed to fulfilling its aim to showcase Malaysia’s diverse music offerings and talents and to promote arts and culture in the country.”