Saturday August 4, 2012
Venue for music lovers
MUSICIANS and young talents find it hard to display their artistic skills in Malaysia as the country lacks platforms for them to turn their passion into a professional career.
The untapped potential of local musicians, especially those returning from overseas, who seek to venture into musical arts for a living can only bow reluctantly to reality and work in a more secure jobs.
However, Tan E-Jan and Ng Chor Guan, both 31, refused to give up on their passion for music and, eventually, started up Toccata Studio.
A toccata (from Italian toccare, ‘to touch’) is a virtuoso piece of music in which a musician’s skills will be exhibited in melding of of musical composition and artistic talent.
Initially, many thought that it would be just an ordinary music centre, but it has become a platform for music lovers and musicians to display their skills through performances and lessons.
Although the studio is located in the dense and mature area of SS2, Petaling Jaya, it is still seeking more exposure for musical culture and arts.
Sharing their background, Tan said she began learning piano when she was five but had never expected to become a piano performer then.
Majoring in piano performance and flute in the United Kingdom, she performed and taught piano lessons for several years there.
Meanwhile, Ng learnt to compose songs and brought together a combination of music and technology when he took up lessons on the least popular electronic musical instrument, the theremin.
“I once performed with a theremin and was invited to participate in a seminar on musical arts in England,” he said.
“Among the 10 of us who got the invitation, I was the only Malaysian while others were from England, Japan, South Korea and Australia,” he said.
According to the duo, it is vital for the studio to create a platform to expose the community to the arts and music.
From time to time, Toccata Studio organises various activities such as musical performances, sharing sessions, seminars and art exhibitions.
The studio also provides a venue for music recitals and also offers music lessons, art lessons and yoga classes for the public.
Equipped with a 60-seat mini-concert hall, the studio is often packed with newcomers to support the events.
These days the studio organises music performances at least once a month and charges a nominal fees for those who want to use the concert hall. There is also a music room that can be rented to conduct music lessons.
The duo hopes to hold more performances as well as a offer more diverse displays of music and art.
“Although Malaysia is a multiracial country with different cultures, languages, music and musical instruments, what we need most is a musical language that belongs to the country. However, the arts lack support and funding from the government,” Ng said.
“We devised a fundraising initiative call the ‘Cake Project’. The initiative is rather common in other countries and its contributions will help the musical community to start more projects for future development,” she said.
The project also acts as a rendezvous point for artists and their audiences to meet up regularly as well as to create rapport among themselves.
This helps create more awareness about culture among the public
Under the project, artists such as musicians, writers, entertainers, filmmakers, dancers, designers and photographers can submit a short proposal of their innovative ideas to the studio.
Each participant who has submitted a proposal is required to make a brief presentation about their idea. It will then be voted on and be considered for funding.
Artists who fail to make it however, cannot re-submit their proposal in consecutive months.
Set up for only four months ago, the duo and the performers had received different response from locals and other countries.
They even received enquiries about their performances from Canada.
Once, a Frenchman deliberately made a trip to Penang just to see their performance there and stayed through the night with them.
As the duo narrated the experience, they talked for the whole night about their passion and it was indeed an eye-opening experience for them.
This further became an affirmation that the effort they put into their cause had not gone to waste and became encouragement to continue to work for it.
“In Malaysia, creativity might not be valuable but it is undeniable that it is part of our lives,” Tan said.
To-date, Toccata Studio has organised the Cake Project meetings twice and the next meeting will be held on the first Sunday of September at 3pm. Artists can submit their proposals to Toccata Studio personally or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug 26 at noon.
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