A symphony of sweet notes

THE moment Siti Nurhaliza sang the first note, she was greeted with loud applause. And as the Siti Nurhaliza in Symphony concert progressed in the concert hall of the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the applause grew louder.

Sitting among the audience that evening were some top honchos from the music industry in New York who had made a special effort to check out our songstress. We heard they were in Dubai for another engagement and had made a stopover in Kuala Lumpur just to catch Siti in action.

One could not help but speculate that Siti will be offered a recording deal soon. Only time will tell if this is true. Anyway, these gentlemen were enjoying the concert despite the language barrier.

Midway through the concert, Siti said she owes her career to the “kipas yang susah mati” (fan who would not die).

Smiling at the confused looks on the audience’s faces, she explained that she meant her diehard fans.

It’s true that her jokes can be a little too simplistic but her fans did not mind as they were too mesmerised by her. They were just thrilled to have their idol speaking directly to them. In their eyes, Siti can do no wrong.

Aside from this, I must admit that the singer from Pahang gave an almost flawless performance. From her opening song, Kau Kekasihku, to the encore, Muara Hati, Siti kept her audience entertained.

The range in her voice was amazing. After having been singing in the industry for the last two decades, Siti has shown that, like wine, her voice only gets better with time.

Some singers have the tendency to scream just to show off their powerful vocals. In the process, the songs get distorted.

Siti, however, showed good control of her vocals. And she knew exactly how to modulate her voice accordingly with effortless precision.

The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), with conductor Kevin Field at the helm, also deserved praise for making this concert memorable.

This was the second time Siti has performed at this venue. The first time she sang at DFP was in 2001 when she was a guest artiste of S.M. Salim at his Tan Sri S.M. Salim with MPO concert. There, she did a duet with Salim on Pandang Jeling Jeling and also sang Mohon Kasih.

Among my favourite moments during the concert was when Siti sang Senandung Semalam, a song composed by M. Nasir and made popular by the group, Alleycats.

Siti told the press after the concert that this song was her tribute to Nasir, who is a living legend and ‘sifu’ (master) of the music industry.

“With music performed by the MPO, I could only imagine how beautiful it would sound,” she emphasised.

And Siti was absolutely right. If Nasir were in the audience, he would have been impressed with the rendition.

My other favourite moment was when Siti paid tribute to legendary artiste Tan Sri P. Ramlee by singing a medley of his songs – Malam Bulan Dipagar Bintang (from the movie, Pendekar Bujang Lapuk) and Tiada Kata Secantik Bahasa (from Anakku Sazali).

She said in a note in the concert programme booklet: “Picking songs by Tan Sri P. Ramlee as a tribute to the legend was not easy for me. There are just too many great songs that he had written. Tonight’s songs were chosen because of their beautiful melodies and lyrics.”

One song that got my feet tapping was the upbeat Cindai, featuring the sounds of middle eastern drums called darbuka. Siti also made some effort to play the drums herself, which was pretty impressive.

She also included a new song, Lebih Indah, in her repertoire. This song will be featured in her upcoming album to be released at the end of the year.

Lebih Indah reflects the emotions she went through last year when her husband, Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa (better known as Datuk K), was involved in a motorbike incident in New Zealand.

“I wanted a positive title for this song,” she said after the concert.

Siti will also be holding a concert at Istana Budaya in September and many of her fans, including yours truly, will be eagerly looking forward to that.