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November 12, 2005

In fine Song Company

New Straight Times (Malaysia):

They sang a verse and we remembered the past, they reached the chorus and we re-lived today, they finished the song and we were left with a vision of the future. This was the effect of Australia-based a cappella group The Song Company. Members of the group used their inimitable voices to transport us to a nostalgic past and a timeless future. This ensemble of experienced musicians will be in Kuala Lumpur to perform a wide range of music, from that of the 10th century to the contemporary sounds of today.

"We do not wish for our music to be specific or identified with a particular era of history which is what most European groups do," said its leader Roland Peelman, an internationally-acclaimed artistic director. The group, formed in 1984 and operating as a non-profit organisation, comprises seven professional artistes who have been acknowledged for their commitment to the arts. With the support of the Australia Council and the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts, their projects have involved commissioning and creating new works as well as providing opportunities for artists to work with the ensemble through various support groups.

"Our singers are never afraid to venture into something new and unknown so youíll always hear something different and surprising in our concerts. Thatís why we enjoy working with composers around the world as it opens up new opportunities for us," he said. Their astounding talent will revive memories of the old classics and enjoyment of todayís music. They received excellent reviews after their performances in the US and Europe earlier this year.

Here the group will sing popular music from their new shows. "We donít have costumes to dress like the subjects we sing about (be they objects, personalities and animals) since the powerful conviction from the music will make the audience believe they are already that subject at that point in time. No amount of production values will ever make up for imagination and thatís why we focus on the performers and their delivery. The rest such as props, lighting and backdrops are left fairly simple. "We also express culture within different kinds of Australian music but our shows shouldnít be seen as geography or history lessons but to be enjoyed because theyíre entertaining and unique."

What makes The Song Company unique is its ability to improvise and adapt to whatever the audience wants to listen to. "A person will read a particular text or song differently from others and we welcome any interpretation or slant they want to give to a particular song. We like to choose songs that allow us to do something creative or silly with them because a good song will always resonate at different levels." The group also selects each song based on its depth and degree of connection with the audience. "Our songs and programmes are thoroughly discussed, researched and very intensively prepared, so although we must like the songs we perform, there must be more to them so that they can convince ourselves, besides our audience," explained Peelman.

The songs are usually about past and current social and political issues but the group was never set up to advocate anything, he said."We use our lyrics and words to reflect and comment on every imaginable topic and are bound to the importance of our lyrics. We want to cover all sorts of issues that affect everyone, rather than conventional songs that target a more selective audience by elaborating more on psychological and philosophical subjects such as nature and love." With 150 concerts annually around Australia, the US, Europe and Asia, Peelman recalls his most memorable experience: "We toured and sang in some remote Aboriginal settlements in Western Australia and had the privilege of singing in Istana Budaya back in 1999 when it was still new!"

This will be the groupís eighth visit to Malaysia. It will also be conducting vocal workshops with the cast of the much anticipated M! The Opera, slated for production next year.

Posted by acapnews at November 12, 2005 12:01 AM