IMus Alumni Homecoming: A Contemporary Evening

“We need more of this, and more acts. Do a lecture-recital. Oh, and include our lecturers! Mr. Justin, Miss Lina.. all of them!” -Aina Abdul and Kimberly, 1st year Contemporary Music students.

The contemporary music concert by UCSI University’s Institute of Music (IMus) created an understandable buzz almost a week before the event took place. It was not an ordinary contemporary music concert, for the performances that evening would be taken on by our very own alumni, people who were known to us as friends, seniors and even lecturers. The evening boasted three very diverse band performances, by ‘Crinkle Cut’, ‘Four Leaf Clover’ and ‘Melvin and Friends’.
From the start of the concert, the atmosphere was not the norm as the performers themselves were present in the hall, mingling around with old friends and catching up with lecturers. When the lights dimmed, the audience was brought on a trip down memory lane, featuring clips of ‘Crinkle Cut’ and old YouTube videos that introduced the opening band that night.

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Crinkle Cut in action

‘Crinkle Cut’ is an all- girl band featuring Frances Thomas on vocals, Melissa Wong on guitar, Ashley Choong on cajon and Grace Foo on keys. Grace was away during this concert, so another alumni stood in her place, Soh Rou Yen. Frances introduced the band and told the audience, “I’m super ganjiong (nervous) right now,” but she launched into song and convinced us otherwise. Her smooth soul vocals captivated the audience with an original entitled ‘Pretty Boy’. The songs performed that night were mostly originals except for one which was a mash-up of several songs including ‘Hotline Bling’ and ‘Stay with Me’. The band impressed with their well-placed harmonies and original compositions, and it was the perfect starter to the night.

 

 

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Four Leaf Clover with Simmy on the melodica

The next band, the ‘Four Leaf Clover’ graced the stage with a very interesting set up. What started off as a cover-band had evolved to them composing many of their own originals, and the different degrees of seniority of IMus students found in the band itself was a point of interest for existing IMus students. The band is made up of five people, featuring tin whistler Simmy who also plays the melodica, violinist Jonathan Khor, guitarist Jonathan Wong, Ian Linga on bass, and Ashley Choong back on the cajon once more. The first thing that perhaps captured the audience’s attention was Simmy’s instruments. The tin whistle suited Celtic music like a glove, and it was such a delight hearing the instrument dance over the accompaniment while the melodica helped to provide an occasional drone-like accompaniment to the music. Their casual, almost pirate-like appearance suited the Celtic/ folk feel of the music being performed.
They performed five songs, and among them were originals such as ‘Clouds’ written by Ashley, ‘Take me Home’ written by Jonathan Wong, and ‘Bad Wet Weather’, a fast-paced song that made the audience dance a little in their seats. The music started off as a simple folk tune feel, but as it went along, the music built up layer by layer, and the complexity gave a pleasant surprise to the audience, as Celtic/ folk music is not a very common genre found locally.

“It’s great to see how our alumni all embarked on different paths. It’s pretty cool! I always thought that there was this one UCSI IMus sound, but tonight surprised me with the diversity of sound that they have.”- Chloe Soh, 2nd year Contemporary Music Student

‘Melvin and Friends’ jazz band was on last to wrap the night up. “This stage gives me lots of choir memories,” Melvin said and laughed, “Good memories.” Once more, the recital stage hall welcomed the presence of instruments rarely seen on its floors, the double bass, played by Tan Jen Wei and jazz guitar, played by Wong Wei-Ming. We were privileged enough to witness one of our own faculty, Mr. Terrence Ling, accompany the band as their drummer for the night.

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Melvin and Friends

The performance inspired and challenged the audience as they progressed into their music with velvet smooth solos by Melvin and incredible synergy in their sound as a band. They performed three songs in total; ‘Tell Me a Bedtime Story’, ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ and ‘Joy Spring’. The songs transported us straight into the jazz era, almost as though we ourselves were experiencing the atmosphere first hand. Each song left the audience hungry for more, and it was a complete joy to watch and a brilliant way to end the beautiful night of performances.

Before Melvin exited the stage, he gave a piece of advice to the existing students which every teacher actively tries to drum into their students minds, “It’s pretty interesting to see how as classmates and seniors we are all playing together now. Everyone has branched out on their own. So guys, keep on practicing, practicing, practicing. Keep it real. We never stop learning until the day we die”. Both lecturers and students cheered at his closing statement as the night finally came to a close.

“Coming back here is like coming back home. Kind of like a flashback. It is quite stressful because we’ve been assessed on this stage before… it’s scary. But it’s like coming home.” –Crinkle Cut.

 

“I feel old. But it’s a very proud and heartwarming feeling to see how far they’ve come. Seeing them onstage, seeing them find their own journey and inspiration in their own music. I’m very proud of all of them.” –Miss Lina, Lecturer.

Without a doubt, we were challenged, inspired and motivated throughout the night. We welcome you home alumni. Thank you for performing, and we are very proud and excited for the journey ahead.

This article was written by Jessica Teh; IMus scholar and 2nd-semester student of the Foundation in Music program

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