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Sabahans win at International Vocal Open Competiton
Published on: Monday, February 19, 2024
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Sabahans win at International Vocal Open Competiton
Yico and Amberly
Kota Kinabalu: A 19-year-old Sabahan student Yico Wong Yee Khe from Kota Kinabalu emerged first in the Pop Song Open category of the world final of the 11th International Vocal Open Competition, a three-day-long voice contest held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from January 30 to February 1, 2024.

Another Sabahan student, 15-year-old Amberly Maidon, took the second prize in the Special Theme (Pop Song) – Youth (Junior) Class A category.

It marked the first time since its 2011 founding that the competition was being held outside of Hong Kong, with Malaysia playing host. 

Organised by the Hong Kong International Musician Association (HK IMA), it has been focused on offering an international stage for all musicians to communicate and develop further through the holding of concerts, masterclasses, lectures and competitions.

HK IMA’s Executive Chairman, Jye Lee, said that this year’s International Vocal Open Competition saw the participation of close to 500 international delegates from all age groups in a variety of vocal categories.

“It gave them the opportunity to meet and communicate with fellow musicians from all over the world and share their different cultures and musical heritage.

““Even more importantly, the competition is fairly judged by a panel of 23 highly recognised jury members from nine countries. 

The contest this year has been quite intense, with so many top quality delegates competing at the highest level, making it rather difficult for the jury to find the winners,” she said.

The jury members included celebrity musician, singer, teacher and adjudicator Stewart Kempster from Wales, UK, renowned vocal educator and bass singer Hong Luo from China, tenor and US-based music professor Israel Lozano from Spain, Romanian vocal professor Anca-Daniela Mihut, lyricist and music producer Collin Qi from Singapore and Australian mezzo-soprano Melody Lee, among many other notable professionals.

Malaysia was also well represented with a coloratura soprano, music producer and music director Syafinaz Selamat, singer, music producer, and arranger Lee Nai Kong, music producer and composer Helen Yap, songwriter and educator Chew Paul Wah, songwriter and music producer Abraham Tee and renowned soprano Cecilia Yap.

In addition to judging the two days of competition, members of the jury were involved in conducting masterclasses, lectures and talks, including a lecture on “Singers Diction - The Art of Enunciation and Pronunciation” and a panel talk entitled “Great Singers on Great Singing.”

The final day of the 3-day event saw an outdoor garden pop concert presented by some of the delegates.

It was followed by the official awards presentation ceremony and a special opera concert presented by some of the operatic judges. 

The event concluded with a celebratory concert presented by the performers of the competition, and the announcement of the Grand Prize winner.

Romania emerged the big winner when three of their delegates took home first prizes in various vocal categories, with one of their first prize winners, 36-year-old professional singer Ana-Maria Zota, also taking home the grand prize of RM 20,000. 

The other two Romanians who were declared first prize winners were 20-year-old undergraduate music student Diana Rad Maria (Operatic Open) and 24-year-old postgraduate student Bianka Dora Blatniczki (Operatic Aria & Art Song), each receiving RM 3,000 for their achievement.

Only those receiving 94 points or more from the judges were eligible to receive the first prize award. 

The first prize winners from all classes were also selected and given the Rare Echo Award along with a tailored original song.

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