NEW YORK, March 12 (Bernama) -- The New York office of Tourism Malaysia hosted an elaborate high tea programme on Wednesday at the Malaysian permanent mission to the United Nations in New York to honour the visiting Malaysian all-girls' music ensemble which made a successful debut at New York's Carnegie Hall competing against eight U.S. school ensembles.
The girls, aged between 13 and 17, are students of the Seri Puteri Secondary School, a residential boarding school for girls, in Cyberjaya. The SP Winds Ensemble, comprising 69 hijab-attired girls playing in the orchestra and one male conductor, won the silver medal in the competition on Monday, and impressed the audience which cheered them with cries of "Bravo".
The successful debut of the girls, generating positive public response to their performance, has also brought cheer to Malaysia which in recent times was overwhelmed by three aviation tragedies.
"The fact that the girls could qualify and compete in the Carnegie Hall competition was, in itself, a big achievement. It was a very positive event for us after the aviation tragedies of last year. "The ensemble's participation also helped bolster Malaysia's image after the negative media publicity over the aviation tragedies. Malaysia continues to enjoy the reputation of being a good destination.
"We were also able to invite some leading professionals and operators from the tourism and travel trade, and they enjoyed the schoolgirls' performance," Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali, Tourism Malaysia's vice president in New York, told Bernama.
According to Tourism Malaysia's top representative in New York, the girl ensemble demonstrated that Malaysia has plenty of talent in the field of classical music.
Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia's New York office is preparing to work for the Mega Meet Malaysia to be held from March 29 to April 4 in Kuala Lumpur. "We are sending tour operators and travel agents to Malaysia," Johanif said.
Meanwhile, the conductor of the ensemble, Raja Muzafar Shah, said in an interview that the Carnegie Hall participation was a "unique experience" both for himself and the school girls. "The packed auditorium gave a thunderous applause. In fact, the audience was clapping even while we were still playing.
"I suppose they were very happy to see that an all-girls' ensemble from Malaysia could play as good as Westerners. We played the Overture to Candide by Leonhard Bernstein, which is an all-time American favourite. "The audience was highly impressed with the girls' professional playing. I am very pleased with the outcome of the competition. We won the silver medal," Raja Muzafar said.
The ensemble will be participating in July 2016 in the World Music Contest in Kerkrad, Netherlands. The group also plans to perform with Datuk Khadija Ibrahim, "Malaysia's nightingale", as she is often called by her fans, at the Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur in January 2016.
Khadija is reverred by the ensemble members because of the pro-active support she gave to the group in raising funds for their participation.
Khadija, renowned for her haunting rendering of the "Malaysia, Truly Asia", captivated the audiences with her singing at a fund-raising dinner in Kuala Lumpur where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak donated RM 200,000 for the girls upon Khadija's plea. Also, the tabs for the catering charges of RM60,000 were taken over by the Malaysian government.
The girls along with their principal and other staff are returning home Wednesday night.