The Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir (HKWMVC), which originated from an impromptu singing of Welsh songs around the piano at the St. David’s Society Annual Ball in 1977, has come a long way to its performance at the Heriot-Watt University Malaysia’s (HWUM) campus in Putrajaya. The choir’s performance at the HWUM campus on 30 September 2023, was attended by more than 100 participants, marking a significant moment in their musical journey. The choir has steadily grown in scope and reputation since 1978.
The event commenced with the arrival and registration of guests, followed by a warm welcome from the master of ceremony. The chairman of HKWMVC, Michael Wust, extended his greetings in Bahasa Malaysia. In his speech, he expressed “Good afternoon and welcome to our concert here in Heriot-Watt University Malaysia. Thank you for the invitation and giving us such a warm welcome. We are the Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir and we are very happy to be here. We would like to introduce you to the Welsh choir tradition with a variety of song selection from Scotland, Wales, England and nearby countries. Enjoy the song collections that we will perform for you, thank you.”
The evening kicked off with the Malaysia’s national anthem, Negaraku, performed by The Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir. Following that, they performed a range of melodies, including classics like ‘Rachie’, ‘I Dream a Dream’, ‘Cwm Rhondda’, ‘Flower of Scotland’, ‘Take Me Home’, ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’, ‘Loch Lamond’, ‘There is Nothing Like A Dame’, ‘Calon Lan’, and ‘Sweet Caroline’.
In the intermission, HWUM Music Club students showcased their talents. Lau Li Yang on the Saxophone, Hang Zi Yi on the Cello, and Wong Kheng Zhe on the Keyboard performed soulful performances of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" and Jay Chow's "Chrysanthemum Terrace”.
The highlight of the event was a heartwarming moment when the HKWMVC joined participants in singing the Malaysian national anthem together at the HWUM Plaza.
Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and Chief Executive Officer of HWUM, expressed his gratitude, “Today, with your music and your passion, you told the most amazing story that touched our hearts, brought the world to us, and literally brought us home. Thank you for enlightening us, inspiring and entertaining us with your music. I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our students; they prove that engineers, accountants, and actuarial scientists can be fun! Additionally, I extend my thanks to the HWUM team for organising this event. Lastly, thank you to each and one of you who chose to spend this Saturday evening with us.”
Tour organiser of The Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir group, Simon Clennell shared insights into their choir's journey, “In October 2012, we were invited to sing at the Great British Ball in KL, a massive event at the Shangri-La Hotel with more than 900 guests. It was a very enjoyable weekend. It’s difficult to compare it with this weekend’s trip which will be quite different in nature, as this time we’re performing at two educational establishments, now in Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) and Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) in Mantin tomorrow evening. We are also staying in Putrajaya this time, which is a new destination for most of us. So, it will be a very different weekend from 2012, but we are all very excited about it. We have 25 members making the trip, 10 of whom (including me) are ‘veterans’ from KL 2012. For Heriot-Watt, we sing a mixture of Welsh, Scottish and English numbers, as well as one in Chinese – the Teresa Tang classic ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’ which seems appropriate for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Scottish pieces have been included to honour HWUM’s heritage as an Edinburgh-based university. The rest of the repertoire will range from rousing Welsh hymns to ABBA and Neil Diamond.
For KTJ, we will omit the Scottish pieces but perform three numbers jointly with their students, including the Malay folk song Wau Bulan and the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody. Choosing to sing Wau Bulan a classic Malay folk song is an amazing way for us to indulge in and understand the culture of Malaysia. This exchange of repertoire pursues a deep and collaborative element that is the basis of all creative wisdom and achievement.”
This event not only highlighted the deep roots of Welsh songs but also celebrated unity through various musical styles. The choir’s journey across Malaysia, from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia to Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar, stood as proof of music’s ability to bring different cultures together and leaves a lasting impression.