Inaugural Sarawak Choral Festival raises curtains on renowned choirs, global experts

Wee (seated centre) and groups of choir from KL to Kuching at the opening ceremony of the Sarawak Choral Festival at Swinburne University Sarawak on June 21, 2024.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, June 22: Twelve local choir groups from various backgrounds and states in Malaysia will make history as the first group of choristers to be adjudicated by a panel of distinguished international and local judges at the first-ever Sarawak Choral Festival.

Kuching South City Council mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng inagurated the festival yesterday (June 21) at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak, which will run until June 23 with a range of events, including masterclasses.


The festival is jointly organised by the Kuching Choral Society (KCS) and Young Choral Academy (YCA) Kuala Lumpur.

Kuching Choral Society president Benedict Lo emphasised that Sarawak’s first-ever Choral Festival aims not only to raise the standards of local choirs and musicianship but also to educate the youth and increase awareness of choral music.

“To this end, Kuching Choral Society initiated the push for educating and engaging the young in choral music by bringing about the debut of two new choirs, Sarawak’s Children Choir and Sarawak’s Youth Choir,” he said in a press release yesterday.

The organisers held their auditions two months ago and after intensive vocal training and mentoring, these selected young choristers will perform their medley of local and international songs at the festival’s closing and awards ceremony.

Wee (second left) flanked by Lo on his left applauding after watching a performance at the Sarawak Choral Festival opening ceremony at Swinburne University Sarawak on June 21, 2024.

Aside from the adjudicated performances and Masterclasses, six other choirs will also be involved and some will perform at the festival’s two Friendship Concerts and grace the opening ceremony as well as the closing and awards ceremony at the Lecture Theatre of Swinburne Sarawak on June 23.

The festival, though in its infancy, has attracted the attention of renowned local choirs such as SMK Kepong Choir whose accolades include being the State Champion of Selangor in 2023 and the Gold Award winner at the Malaysian Choral Eisteddfod (MCE) International Choir Festival 2023.

Not to be outdone, Sarawak’s own Gold Award winner at the MCE International Choir Festival 2023, La Speranza from SMK Tung Hua Sibu, will also participate in the festival.

La Speranza, together with the YCA Community Choir, St Joseph’s Private School Chamber Choir, SMK Kepong Choir, Choir CH3, Zhi Fou Choir, You Ran Ladies Ensemble, will perform at the festival’s first Friendship Concert at Vivacity Megamall today from 7.30pm to 9pm.

A choir performance during the first Sarawak Choral Festival at Swinburne University Sarawak on June 21, 2024.

At the festival’s second Friendship Concert that will be held on Sunday (June 23) from 11.30am to 1pm at Plaza Merdeka shopping mall, SMK Kepong Choir will perform their repertoire of songs, together with Stella Maris International School Damansara Children’s Choir, WInSpiration, Choir SJK Chung Hua No 4, Stardust Crew and Jehté Chamber Choir, to the members of the public.

Far from being exclusive to musicians and choristers, the organisers of the Sarawak Choral Festival aimed to raise public awareness and appreciation of choral music not only through their two Friendship Concerts supported by their venue partners but also by making available their Choral Workshops to keen festival-goers.

These workshops will be led by three sought-after choral experts, namely local conductor and instructor George Tay, international conductor and adjudicator Tommyanto Kandisputra and Assistant Professor Vladimir Opačić from the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad. — DayakDaily