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KK deserves ‘acoustic- friendly’ concert hall
Published on: Saturday, December 17, 2016

By Kan Yaw Chong
THE beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu deserves a “proper” recital hall, says Mustafa Fuzer Nawi, conductor of the Malaysian National Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I think you should have at least a recital hall, a proper recital hall that can accommodate 600-700 people,” he said.

Asked what he meant by a “proper recital hall”, he zoomed in on the “acoustics” of the listening room itself – one essential pillar of sound quality which ironically is often ignored in halls across the country, Mustafa noted.

“Acoustics is for concerts,” he said.

“Most halls are meant for the public, all carpeted, very nice, you come in to perform there, the sound of music is absorbed, it does not bounce and most of the public halls in Malaysia are like that – done with carpets,” Mustafa noted.

“But even so, just a little extra thinking by using wood instead of carpet can make a discernible difference,” he said, citing an acoustics sensitive design in the new Sabah Art Gallery.

“Because of this, the venue (Sabah Art Gallery) becomes very good to play this kind of music,” Mustafa said in reference to the December 15 Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Music Concert held there.

Sabah’s hardwood used to build ‘acoustic perfect’ concert halls in Europe “Kota Kinabalu has a lot of money, so why not have this extra feather in your cap – something to be proud of,” he said.

In the event that this idea is acted on, will he be willing to advise what to do?

“Can you imagine if KK has a 500-800 concert hall, I would say 700 is enough and using local timber – Sabah timber?” he asked.

“Do you know Europeans import hardwood from Sabah and Sarawak just to build their concert halls?” Mustafa posed a little known specific.

“Their hardwood comes from here, even their classical guitar, the hardwood used comes from here!” he pounced on Sabah’s pride which most people are not aware of.

How does he know?

“I have a German friend cum guitar maker and one day I saw a massive chunk of log which he used to make the neck of the guitar.

“I asked him: Where did you get this? He said: From Malaysia – your country and he said it’s excellent wood!” Mustafa tickled the pride of Sabahans on how the Europeans treasure the wonder of the State’s timber but Sabahans lack such insight.

Easy to play with good acoustic, hell otherwise: Cello master Nawi, a cello master and younger brother of Mustafa, agrees it’s “important” KK has a “proper” concert hall.

“A proper hall but smaller hall - maybe the most 600-700 capacity because there is not enough population yet,” Nasran said.

“Yes, it’s important to have a proper concert hall acoustically speaking for classical music – a right one and this is very important,” Nasran said.

“For instance, like now, it’s easy for us to play here (referring to the Sabah Art Gallery Exhibition Room) because it is acoustically nice somehow – not bad even if you listen to the concert at the back there,” he told Daily Express.

“So, yeah, it’s not perfect but it’s much better than some of the auditoriums which are all carpeted where you lose the sound and then you have hell playing, your sound does not travel.

It’s big and you get frustrated but here (Sabah Art Gallery) you can hear your own sound.

For the audience that’s important, too, because the sound travels well and bounces back.

“So yes, you need a proper concert hall but not too big, the most for 700 people,” Nasran advised.

“Then try to invite more people to perform every month, more concerts chamber concerts, orchestra concerts but a proper hall.”

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