Things to watch on Merdeka Day, when you’re in a lockdown

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic credit: KL Sketchnation

FOR the second year, we mark Independence Day in a pandemic which means there will be no massive gathering, physical concerts and parades at Dataran Merdeka.

Some may not see the need to celebrate Merdeka Day in the middle of a pandemic when we are not free from the Covid-19 virus, but do not allow the virus to spoil your patriotic spirit.

There are still many great ways on how we can spend our time during this important and historical occasion, and what better way than to spend it with our friends and loved ones.

While streaming platforms and our local channels are giving us an array of patriotic movie selections to choose from, in the mood of Merdeka, here are two other ways to commemorate Aug 31:

The music of Merdeka

It is too bad that we cannot go and watch live concerts and bands during this current period.

However, many orchestras and musicians have resorted to going virtual in order to adapt to the current situation.

The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) has presented a new digital concert campaign called MPO Patriotism Series in conjunction with the Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.

The series consists of seven videos which will be available through the MPO YouTube channel, “MPO TV” beginning August 31 until September 16.

Audiences can now enjoy the music of the MPO from the comfort of their own homes, where the orchestra would be playing several iconic patriotic works and folk songs, presented in unrivalled symphonic arrangements.

The first video would feature a special rendition of “Tanggal 31 Ogos” which was originally written and sung by singer Ahmad C.B and later popularised by Sudirman. It will be performed by the MPO and Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) musicians.

MPO’s “Negaraku” and “Bahtera Merdeka” performance would also be uploaded on the same day.

Suhaimi Mohd Zain’s Cindai, Syed Haron Ahmad’s “Warisan”, Tan Sri Ahmad Merican’s “Tanah Pusaka”, Tuan Haji Madzhi Johari’s “Puteri Santubong” and Datuk Mokhzani Ismail’s “Malaysia Prihatin” would also be featured in the following weeks.

They would be given video messages and commentaries about the works by well-known figures in the local music industry some of are MPO Patron Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, ORTM Music Director Datuk Mokhzani Ismail, arranger Datuk Johari Salleh, composer Tuan Haji Madzhi Johari, lyricist Hairul Anuar Harun, and popular Malaysian artists Datuk Syafinaz Selamat and Aishah.

The orchestra would be led by conductor Ahmad Muriz Che Rose.

“Other than to celebrate the 2021 Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day, this digital concert series was made as an appreciation towards the local symphonic compositions while also conveying the expressions of national sentiment conceived in purely orchestral terms.

“It is an honour to present these famous patriotic works by legendary composers who have shaped the patriotic melodies throughout the years,” he said in a press release.

Feast your eyes on a virtual Merdeka Parade

For two years, we have missed the fun and vibrant parades in Putrajaya and in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building.

Hence, KL SketchNation has collaborated with Suria FM to restore their liveliness through a virtual animated “Merdeka Parade” using characters that have been drawn by Malaysians from all walks of life.

Audiences can just simply view the parade that has been brought to life through their Facebook and YouTube digital platforms on August 31 at 9.30pm.

Even if you missed it, the video would still be available there.

Previously, KL SketchNation and Suria FM held a competition beginning July 29 where participants were required to submit their drawings or illustrations of the characters of their choice.

They would also have to design their characters according to the contingents they are representing, which are the Olympic, Patriotic, Super Heroes, Flora, Fauna, Malaysian Ghosts, Malaysian Taste, Culture, and Technology Contingents.

Apart from these, Suria FM’s DJs would also be having their own contingent.

More than 1000 entries have been received until the final submission date on 20 August.

Only three lucky winners will be announced and they are the final contingent in the Merdeka Parade.

The winner will be bringing home a cash prize worth RM2,000, the second place winner would receive RM1,500 while the third place winners would receive RM500.

Moreover, 10 participants would also be rewarded with exclusive consolation prizes from Suria FM and KLSketchNation worth RM100 each.

According to KL SketchNation President Ahmad Hakym Ahmad Hilmy, they greatly appreciate the opportunity and trust of Suria FM to provide the opportunity for collaboration which is considered very successful.

“We are also honored to be with Suria FM to continue the legacy of the Malaysian parade which is celebrated on every national day despite facing this year’s pandemic.

“This program aims to highlight the expertise of the art community in Malaysia with 10 art volunteers under KL SketchNation in various fields including graphic design, two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) animation and multimedia in the production of this program,” he said.

The amount of entries resulting in more than 1000 from different communities reveals Malaysians talents and abilities that reach international standards.

“Collaboration with KLSketchNation for the Merdeka parade project is a new experience for Suria FM because we have never organised such a contest concept which provides an opportunity for listeners to share the spirit of independence by producing patriotic themed animated characters,” said Suria FM General Manager, Roslinda Abd Majid who is commonly known as DJ Lin.