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Singing across continents – World Singing Day comes to Malaysia

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While following what’s in your heart
Thou shall be singing in the streets
Thou shall see love in those you meet
Thou shall enjoy

On 22 October Malaysians will be among the thousands of people worldwide singing these lyrics from the official song of the 2016 World Singing Day; Thou Shall Enjoy. In fact, this year marks the first time the global sing-along will be hosted in Malaysia by a choral society almost as old as the country: The Philharmonic Society of Selangor.

The route World Singing Day (WSD) took to reach Malaysia was fittingly cross-continental. Cheryl Teh, Choir Director for the Philharmonic Society of Selangor, first heard about it from fellow singers when visiting Australia. Immediately, Cheryl says, “I wrote to the founder, Scott (Johnson) in Boulder (Colorado, USA).”

When Cheryl met Scott

When Cheryl met Scott

Within a year Cheryl had met Scott in person and sung with the 2015 World Singing Day with American community choirs in Colorado. When the Philharmonic Society of Selangor travelled to India last year, they sang and recorded the WSD song with local choirs as part of their Merdeka Friendship Tour and Magic of Music Concert.

Performance at Sir Mutha Concert Hall, Chenai. Credit: Barry Ong, Light at Play Photography

Performance at Sir Mutha Concert Hall, Chenai.

This year, Malaysia represents the region on WSD with a community sing-along right here in Bangsar Village II.

What is World Singing Day?

The origins are simple. “Scott wanted a day wanted a day when everyone, around the world, could sing,” explains Cheryl. Scott has been writing and producing music for 40 years and believes that music can unite people better than any “philosophy, government or religion”. Practicing what he preaches he created World Singing Day to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding.

The first World Singing Day was in 2012. In 2015, thousands of people from over a dozen countries took part. 2016 will see a surge in both singer and country participation, with many countries hosting the event for the first time. One of those countries is, of course, Malaysia.

Long time coming, short time preparing

“We’ve had three weeks to get put this together,” says Cheryl. If someone is going to put something together of this scale, who better than someone who exudes energy and professionalism – not the easiest thing to do over a mega spicy Thai dinner.

Cheryl is a full-time knowledge practitioner working in investment and she also has a background in marketing. So far the Society has already secured a sponsored venue for their sing-along, decided on a list of songs, and printed out 500 lyric booklets to hand out to any passer-by who wants to join in. The printing of the booklets were sponsored by shops in Bangsar Village. The design was done on a barter basis.

Pick up your copy and join in this Saturday

Pick up your copy and join in this Saturday

The one thing they haven’t done when I talk to Cheryl, four days before the event, is rehearse, but confident Cheryl feels positive about the practice session they have coming up.

“We’re singing familiar songs, so our members know most of the lyrics already.” She adds that the selected pieces are “songs of harmony and unity; I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, It’s a Small World, Imagine… we’re also doing songs like Tanah Pusaka and Getaran Jiwa.

Be our guest

One of the great things about this event is one of the great things about the Society – everyone is welcome. “Ours is a community choir, a non-audition choir. We accept everyone, even if you can’t carry a tune.”

The WSD website makes it easy for your to take part, wherever you are and whoever you are with by sharing the theme song’s recording, lyrics and sheet music. Thousands of other people around the world will be doing the same, uploading videos of their song on the 22nd.

If you’d like to sing with an actual choir, Cheryl and the Society make it just as easy. Show up at Bangsar Village II any time between 3pm and 4:30 this Saturday, pick up your free lyrics booklet and join in!

Singing - always better together

Singing – always better together


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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.