Have a ball at the DFP

FOR the first time, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) will be performing the score of a local film – director Chiu Keng Guan’s 2016 Ola Bola – at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), tonight and tomorrow night at 8.30pm.

The MPO has in the past performed the music scores of Hollywood classics such as Psycho, Home Alone, Casablanca, and Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Gold Rush, accompanied by a live screening of the movies.

But this performance and screening, held in conjunction with Malaysia Day tomorrow, marks the first time a local film score has been chosen for the honour.
The score by Onn San won the best original score award at the 28th Malaysia Film Festival last year.

The theme song, Arena Cahaya, written and performed by Zee Avi and co-produced by Zee and Rendra Zawawi, went on to take the best original theme song at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.

MPO general manager Timothy Tsukamoto said: “Since it will be on Malaysia Day, it is appropriate to have a Malaysian film to commemorate it.
OlaBola is one of the more recent films to have a popular soundtrack.”

Tsukamoto credits MPO artistic administrator Khor Chin Yang for coming up with the idea of featuring a Malaysian film this year.
Khor said Ola Bola not only has a great soundtrack but is also an exciting movie, “with a lot of nationalistic elements in it”.
“I was proud that Chiu Keng Guan could make such an iconic film,” Khor added.

Ola Bola is based on the real story of the Malaysian national football team that fought to qualify for a place in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Onn said he had actually approached MPO with a proposal for it to perform his score last year, but at the time, the MPO had already locked down its musical programme for the season.

So when he received a call this year from Khor to discuss the possibility of the orchestra performing the soundtrack after all, he was both elated and surprised.
“I remembered a scene [in the film] that brought a lump to my throat, because I saw myself there in Stadium Merdeka watching the game as a kid with my father,” he said.

“So I could relate to that, and the story spoke to me, and that inspired me to write the music.”

Onn himself is a fan of the scores of sports films such as Chariots of Fire and Rocky, while he greatly admires composer John Williams (Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones) whose compositions are so distinctive that they are immediately recognised as his work.

Though Onn’s original score did not make use of an orchestra, he is happy with the opportunity for an orchestral treatment to his score.
For more on the performance, visit the MPO website.