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THE NATIONAL MARCHING SCHOOL BANDS COMPETITION 2000

 

Penang Free School Band Shakes Nation With Sublime Display

“Clash! Boom! Bang!”

Rhythmic melodies, explosive drum rolls and fantastic formations were broadcast live over TV3 as the National Marching School Bands Competition got underway on Sunday, 29th July 2000. Bands representing every state were fighting for the honour of representing Malaysia at the international level and to bring glory to their respective schools. PFS were proud to bear the mantle of Penang’s best, and hoped to make a large impact at the contest. Although we did not eventually emerge the victors, we put on a good display and showed the world what Frees are capable of!

Having been given the opportunity to perform in front of millions, the band practiced endlessly and with unflinching dedication, pouring sweat, tears and blood into perfecting the ‘Frees Formation’ routine over six weeks of intense training and evening practices. Our goal was to cultivate a performance worthy of true Penangites, and of exceeding the already sky-high expectations, even though we were forced to make do with less preparation time than some of the other schools. Approaching D-Day, the butterflies fluttered in our stomachs. But it only spurred us to work harder.

FRIDAY, 28 JULY: The contingent bade farewell to the school and left for K.L. early in the morning. The end of our eight-hour bus trip saw us checking into The Grand Central Hotel, in KL City. TV3 had spared no expense, and the hotel management proved to be polite and hospitable. The PFS contingent consisted of 68 Frees and 3 teachers. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and gearing up for the big day.

SATURDAY, 29 JULY: Tension was full-pitch by now. Rehearsals were held in the morning and afternoon, during which we got the chance to compare the performance of the other participating school bands. The overall standard was exceptionally good, and we briefly experienced another attack of anxiety. Nonetheless, we were determined not to be out of the running.

SUNDAY, 30 JULY: Donning our proud ‘azure’ band regalia, we arrived at Dataran Merdeka at 2.00 p.m. and waited for our turn to perform (we were the twelfth on the list). The consequences were dire and humiliation would have been inevitable had we performed badly. Hearts pounded and legs stiffened with anxiety. When it was finally our turn, we assumed our familiar positions in the starting formation. Cheers and light applause from the audience greeted our entrance. The clouds were floating by and the first strains of brass notes split the air. We began to play.

All our inhibitions and nervousness melted away. The harmonious tunes of Belaian Jiwa, Sinaran and the beloved school rally, now ingrained into our hearts after so many hours of practice, were played with pride and confidence audible in every note. For 12 minutes, we played our hearts out. We had done the school proud with our best performance yet. We knew we had awed the nation with our performance.

The rest of the trip was pure bliss after the nail-biting anticipation. We toured around our nation’s capital and tried to put the competition behind us. No, we did not win. SM Katholik from Selangor did. We did not even place in the top three, although we were closer than we dared hope. But we gained a lot of experience, the kind that will help us fare better the next time around. Perhaps next year, the trophy will be ours.

The band would like to thank our headmaster Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Salim for his never-ending support, Mr. Ong, Mr. Yap, and Mr. Chuah for guiding us all the way, as well as all students of PFS for cheering us on. VIVA FOREVER PFS!!!

Alvin Choong 3 August 2000

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