Salvation Army Children’s Home celebrates music room upgrade with musical evening

Past president Jessie Ho (third left) of Lions Club of Kuching City presents the guitar rack to Major T Chelvee, the superintendent of the children’s home.

KUCHING, April 17: Earlier this month, the Salvation Army Children’s Home here was filled with the sound of music as 31 children ranging in age from six to 17-years-old presented a concert to celebrate the contributions of the Lions Club of Kuching City to the musical life of the home.

According to a press release, apart from members of the Lions Club of Kuching City, the event was also graced by the presence of Region One Chairperson Kapitan Chong Nam Fah, and presidents of several other Lions clubs.

Since August 2017, the Lions Club of Kuching City have adopted the music room at the Salvation Army as its Centennial legacy project and has been actively upgrading the music facilities there. Thanks to the efforts of the club, the room is now equipped with two new units of air-conditioners, a new Yamaha Clavinova and a guitar stand capable of holding 6 guitars. The room is presently being used for choir practices, guitar classes, drum classes, and piano lessons.

Lions and Salvation Army Children pose for a group photo after the latter’s performance.

The performances, held on a stage constructed in the dining area, featured a choir singing a variety of folksongs from around the world. This included authentic Kenyah folksongs collected from Ulu Baram by ethnomusicologist Lion Dr Chong Pek Lin, who was also the organising chairwoman of the event.

During her speech, Chong said when she first signed on as a voluntary music tutor at the Salvation Army last year, she discovered the children had great enthusiasm and talent, having being exposed to guitar and drum lessons as well as often singing in small group performances. However, at the time, the music room was small, stuffy and lacked facilities, and was thus not conducive to learning.

After highlighting the need to her fellow members at the Lions Club of Kuching City and the club adopting the music room for the earlier mentioned project, this situation has now changed for the better.

“Every child should have the opportunity to learn music and singing, to instill a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime,” said Chong, quoting music educationist Zoltan Kodaly.

A unique feature of the concert was the inclusion of two ‘jatung utang’, Kenyah musical instruments from Ulu Baram and one from Belaga, which the children learnt to play in a very short time. Although none of the children speak Kenyah, they presented several Kenyah songs with some dramatisation to depict the original context of the songs in upriver Sarawak.

The children perform a Kenyah song accompanied by the ‘jatung utang’ on the right.
Violinist Chin accompanies the choir during the finale performance of “You Light up my life”.

The songs performed highlighted the valuable musical heritage of Sarawak, with enchanting melodies and lyrics reflecting the local environment. One of the songs titled ‘Ilun Kuai’ (orphaned Argus pheasant) relates how this protected species is hunted for its feathers. While the choir sang, the plight of the bird was depicted in dance.

The junior choir also charmed the audience with several songs enhanced by dance and dramatisation. Guest performer Julia Chin added a touch of the classics with a violin solo titled ‘Salut d’amour’. The performance was followed by a high-tea sponsored by the Lions.

Besides showcasing the children’s musical abilities, and highlighting ways in which voluntary organisations like the Lions can make a community pact, it is hoped that this event, will raise awareness of the rich cultural heritage of Sarawak and an appreciation for classical music. — DayakDaily