Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Mauling a retrospective 

Back again....
I've been doing a lot of work lately for proposals for new IT projects here in Kuala Lumpur. Since the demise of our previous project (never apply a technical fix to a political problem). Life outside work has also been, um, interesting, for reasons best not gone into here at present.

Back on 11 July, I went to the last performance of the season for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, which did a wonderful performance of Mahler's Seventh. Though the performance started late due to a "hole in the tympani" (!) - few things in Malaysia start on time - Kees Bakels led a performance captivating even to someone who doesn't particularly like Mahler (except for the last two symphonies, of course).

But I couldn't help noticing...there is this beautiful symphony hall. I was sitting in what had to be one of the worst seats in the house - right at stage level, poor sightlines, next to the wall behind an outcrop supporting a balcony - and it was still glorious, easily comparable to what I remember of the Kennedy Center. But it was also a tad shabby. There is a beautiful lighted dome over the center of the audience - that had over two dozen of its lights apparently burnt out, judging by the random pattern. Other, smaller details - where on earth could you find program notes? - marred but did not greatly diminish the experience. I'm looking forward to the new season, which starts up at the end of this month.

Question for you locals - in this very racial society, why were there very few Malays or Indians in the audience? Perhaps 2/3 of those at the performance I attended appeared to be Chinese, 30% or so foreigners (I chatted with an Australian couple and a German man before the performance), and a good chunk of the remainder those in my 'not necessarily traditional' party? If everybody's taxes and Petronas gas money is going to support this thing, why the apparent apathy from the proudly dominant majority here? Or is it just a paraphrase of the old DC t-shirt, "it's a Malay thing, you wouldn't understand"?

Oh well, back to work....and as always, comments are appreciated. :)

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