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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Stephen Rahman-Hughes: Loving the stage

Posted: 11 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

Yet again, Stephen Rahman-Hughes made Dewan Filharmonik Petronas his musical playground.

IF music be the food of love, then play on," the wise playwright Shakespeare once said.

And music lovers were recently treated to a veritable banquet of music and romance with In The Mood For Love, a delightful fusion combo of snazzy showtunes and grand orchestral music.

Featuring the vocals of renowned West End performer Stephen Rahman-Hughes, and backed up by the distinguished Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Julian Bigg, the concert was an absolute joy from beginning to end.

Taking place at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), KLCC last weekend, In The Mood For Love was a tribute to the power of love and featured a wide variety of songs celebrating love in its many forms and guises.

And who better to perform these songs than this British-born singer, actor and choreographer?

Local musical theatre lovers are no doubt familiar with Rahman-Hughes' name. Among other achievements, he played the lead role in the 2006 staging of Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical, and the 2011 film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.

He has also appeared in stage productions such as West Side Story and The Country Wife, and released a self-titled Malay solo album in 2011.

Back in 2010, he headlined his first solo local concert, Showstoppers at DFP, singing a selection of Broadway hits.

Last Saturday night, Rahman-Hughes looked at home on the DFP stage. Appearing suave in a suit and tie, the singer wowed with his beautiful voice, delivering wonderful performances of popular songs, including Nature Boy, Some Enchanted Evening and Don't Rain On My Parade.

Rahman-Hughes proved to be charming on stage, delivering occasional anecdotes and quips in between songs.

"I'm half Welsh and half Asian, so I'm Wel-Asian," he joked at one point. "People look at me on stage, and go, oh he's WELL ASIAN!"

One of the highlights of the show was his performance of the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody.

"This is one of my favourite love songs," said Rahman-Hughes. "I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy singing it."

Also enjoyable was The Journey Home from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Bombay Dreams, where Rahman-Hughes had previously played the lead character Akaash.

He also swayed and shimmied during a spirited performance of Michael Buble's It Had Better Be Tonight, moving into the audience and even singing to a few of them.

"I thought you'd enjoy that one," the singer joked. "That's the only dancing I'll do tonight!"

Rahman-Hughes also performed a stirring rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, accompanied by local pianist Michael Veerappan.

Rahman-Hughes's soaring vocals were perfectly complemented by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, which performed with passion and skill.

While the orchestra backed Rahman-Hughes on all his songs, it also performed a few numbers on its own, impressing with lovely renditions of The Death of Falstaff and Touch Her Soft Lips And Part, both movements from the Suite For Henry V.

Conductor Bigg also provided many of the evening's laughs, regaling the audience with hilarious anecdotes, such as the time he was "snogged" by composer Leonard Bernstein. At one point, a mobile phone rang from the orchestra pit. "If that's my mum, tell her I'm busy," he quipped, resulting in laughter and applause.

Overall, In The Mood For Love proved to be that sort of personable performance. Add the toe-tapping, finger-snapping for a heartwarming show.

Najwa Mahiaddin releases new material

Posted: 09 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

New York-based Malaysian singer goes back to her roots for first single.

FOR the past three years, Najwa Mahiaddin braved the chilly winds of Boston where she pursued a music degree at Berklee College Of Music. Now based in the no less cold New York City, the 28-year-old singer is perhaps trying to find warmth and comfort in her Malaysian heritage.

Najwa has just released the first single, Seri Mersing, off her upcoming EP, Aurora, today. Previously sung by numerous artistes, such as Datuk Sharifah Aini and Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Seri Mersing is a popular ghazal folk song.

But Najwa puts her own spin on the song, adding contemporary beats yet sticking to the original feel. Her voice, tender and honeyed, acts like a warm blanket to the soul.

"Going to Berklee and learning about everyone's different culture and music has made me realise that as a Malaysian, I, too, have a unique identity to share with the world. Why should I be ashamed of my heritage?

"There's always a sense of pride when I sing my folk songs here and hearing someone who doesn't speak the language enjoy the melody regardless," Najwa said, on her reason for showcasing the folk song in a press statement.

The singer took the local industry by storm in 2010, winning two Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) titles for Best New Artiste and Best Local English Song for Got To Go.

Released under her own record label, Nada Biru Muzik, the five-track EP, Aurora, is set for digital release on March 5.

Starting today, keep an ear out for Seri Mersing on local radio stations. It is also available for sale on iTunes, Amazon mp3, as well as via streaming on Spotify.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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