The Malaysia-Thailand Music Tour over Half Term celebrated Oundle’s unique historic ties with schools and Old Oundelians in Southeast Asia over many decades. Drawing upon established links, the tour brought together past, current and potential future pupils of Oundle in a programme of first-class performances.

Forty musicians and singers from the School’s orchestras and choirs were joined by two OO musicians and accompanied by six members of staff, led by Angus Gibbon, along with the Head, her husband, and the new Director of Development and the Deputy Director of Philanthropy. Thirteen guest artists from Malaysia and Thailand conducted and performed in the concert programme.

The first concert performance in Malaysia was at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar in Negeri Sembilan, where they were joined by the school’s choir and strings.

The next day was spent in Kuala Lumpur at Sunway University where they had a full day of masterclasses, rehearsals, a reception and a performance that included a joint orchestra with Euroasia Sinfonia. Both concerts featured guest artists, including His Highness, Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, who played the harpsichord on both evenings. On the next day, they fit in a rehearsal of film scores by Hans Zimmer at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall with the Dewan Filharmonik, before departing for Bangkok.

The first day in Thailand was packed with rehearsals at the Bangkok Patana School and an afternoon concert with joint choirs and orchestras and guest artists. After a quick change into party clothes, everyone went to the Royal Sport Club for a lavish banquet hosted by the Thai Oundle Community.

The evening was a joyful demonstration of the strong links between Oundle and its community in Thailand, with performances of traditional Thai dance and puppets, speeches, and an exchange of gifts, including traditional Thai trousers for every pupil, which became the tour uniform. An open mic for the singers had the party rushing to the front of the stage for dancing.

Another big day was hosted at Vajiravudh College, where Oundle has had longstanding links: two Old Oundelians from 1907 and 1933 became Headmasters at the school. The evening concert, attended by over 900 people, concluded with a medley of music by the late king of Thailand, His Majesty Bhumibol Aduladej, performed by a joint orchestra. A reception with Vajiravudh boys of cakes and songs sealed the friendship enjoyed by all.

The final concert was held at Shrewsbury International School Riverside where a performance of the mighty “Zadok the Priest” with joint orchestras and choirs served as the tour’s finale.

While the musical programme was packed, there was plenty of time for cultural touring and relaxation, including two days towards the end at the Wora Bura Hua Hin Resort. Their generous hosts in both Malaysia and Thailand ensured they sampled cultural highlights including temples, mosques and markets, and of course, amazing spreads of local food.

The tour was a feat of organisation that would not have been possible without the support of so many people in Malaysia and Thailand, including Old Oundelians, current and former parents, and the collaboration with the many musicians at all the concert venues who shared their passion and expertise.

with contributions by Mirabel (N)