The ornate Khoo Kongsi has played host to countless events, from festive celebrations to weddings. This time, it was the backdrop for an open-air concert by French guitarist Arnaud Fillion. A native of Annecy in south- eastern France, Fillion calls himself an eclectic musician — one who is able to play just about anything, with flamenco and jazz among his favourites. A veteran of more than a thousand concerts, the 31-year-old’s latest performance featured about a dozen tunes that were a mixture of popular hits and some of his own compositions.
“I like to improvise when I’m on stage, and feed off the crowd’s energy,” Fillion, also known as Arnito, said about his choice of songs. With his laid-back charm dovetailing with the soothing melodies from his guitar strings, the showcase proved a real treat for the crowd, who made themselves comfortable on the temple’s stone lined courtyard.
The historic structure, specially lit up for the occasion, was an eye-opening backdrop that impressed the artiste greatly. “It’s definitely one of the most beautiful temples I’ve ever seen. I’ve never played at such a unique venue before, and it’s both inspiring and amazing,” Fillion said.
Coming from a family of musicians, Fillion believes it was only natural for him to follow suit. By the tender age of 13, he was adept at the guitar and even started composing. To date, he has six albums to his name, as well as having conducted numerous workshops around the Asian region.
As an opening act to Fillion’s performance, there was also a Chinese puppet show — a seldom-seen art form among the tourists in attendance, which saw most of them clapping in appreciation, though not quite understanding the underlying storyline. The event was jointly organised by the Penang State Government, Penang Global Tourism, Alliance Francaise de Penang and Traders Hotel, aimed at adding vibrancy to the local scene and elevating Penang’s status as a tourist attraction.