Saving Grace AOG is a small but growing church located in one of the less affluent parts of Kuala Lumpur. However, though small, the church is bringing the promise found in Matthew 5:14 that the light of the Gospel cannot be hidden to fulfilment in its own locale. Because the church is growing beyond what its current walls can support, a musical night was held recently at Glad Tidings PJ to raise funds for a new building.
Pr David Liew, the organising chairman of the Heavenly Concert event, shared in a communiqué what the concert meant personally to him. He expressed that the fact that the concert team was made up of children, teens and adults from diverse denominations that were willing to come together in love for the Lord and to work hard every week for the concert spoke clearly of God’s surpassing power, wisdom and ingenuity.
Those from children homes, orphanages, adult rehab homes, old folk homes and other less advantaged people were also invited to the concert so that they could have the opportunity to attend such an event which they would otherwise not normally have the opportunity to.
The beauty of good memories and tradition was the pervading sense throughout the concert. The concert encompassed a wide range of genres, including songs in English and Chinese dialects, and it covered secular and sacred music. Highlights of the concert were some well-known ones such as the OperaFest Children Choir and the Angelus Choristas Choir.
The OperaFest Children Choir in particular has an international repute. They have sung in Australia, Argentina, China, Greece, India, Macedonia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and the USA. They have also performed in front of mayors, governors, and presidents.
OperaFest is the only children’s choir in Malaysia to have won two prizes in international choir competitions. In the famous Llangollen International Eisteddfod, Wales, Opera came second in their presentation of Henry Purcell’s ‘Sound of the Trumpet’, trailing by only two points. They came in third in another Choir Olympics, held every four years, called the Koorfestival of Arnheim, Holland. Additionally, they have been invited by the BBC to perform and their performance was recorded.
Mrs Kam Sun-Yoke, the founder of OperaFest, expressed that there is great local musical talent and that we must learn to appreciate good talent and good songs. The Operafest took listeners down memory lane for a 75-min duration, in total performing 18 songs, including such classics such as Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, La Vie en Rose, Some Enchanted Evening, The Very Thought of You, and Riz Ortolani & Nino Oliviero’s More. Towards the end of their presentation they also performed some songs in Cantonese including the anthemic Shanghai Bund, before ending with some sacred songs including an ambitious and soaring performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
The professional tenor Ooi Liang Chye and some of the Saving Grace AOG’s own talents delivered Chinese songs masterfully. It was the first time for Saving Grace AOG’s Grace Lum singing with such a huge audience and she succeeded in doing it admirably. It was also an opportunity for English-speaking Christians to enjoy some of the songs they may not have come to known otherwise, such as the famous Hokkien hymn, Jehovah’s Blessings Abound, rendered by Saving Grace’s John Liew in Mandarin.
The final part of the concert was a repertoire of sacred choir songs, performed splendidly by the Angelus Choristas Choir. The choir is relatively young, being started from a ministry in 2011 with the formation of a group of committed children coming together weekly in singing sessions. It grew to the establishment of the senior choir between the St Paul’s Church Choir PJ and the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir.
Today, the Angelus Choristas span a whole range of Christian denominations, including various ethnicities and nationalities such as native East Malaysians, Filipinos, and Kenyans. Many of the children do not have music background but they come together with one mission: to sing as one, glorifying our Lord.
Its founder and director, Mr Austin Koh sees the artistic musical life of liturgy in the light of the incarnational tradition, with the main objective of the choir being to give the children exposure and experience of serving in their church and the opportunity to minister to others through music. They provide a free musical education, and it is the aim of the ministry to help people keep connected to the faith and work together sacrificially for the common good of the group.
Any good choir is defined by at least three foundational things; vocalisation, harmonization, and range in dynamics and versatility. Additional skills from the choir master include adept musical arrangement and direction. All of which, though relatively young, the Angelus Choristas possessed. It was a rare opportunity to enjoy a faithful representation of a time-honoured tradition.
Songs were selected well and with diversity, some of them featuring soloists. They included A Child’s Prayer by Janice Kapp Perry, A Prayer of St Richard of Chichester by L.J.White, The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Hay Malotte, and Prayer of St Francis by Allen Pote. The presentation ended on a high note with Kathy Frizzel and Karla-Worley’s Glorious Love, carried capably throughout by one of the girl soloist, joined midway by the whole choir.
Though a united initiative to help a growing church, the musical evening was a memorable event on its own. Audiences left the church with a greater appreciation for the beauty of good music and tradition.
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NOTE: All pictures kindly contributed by the organisers of the event.