Malaysia will soon produce young music prodigies with the Permata Seni programme. The programme, a collaborative effort between Permata Negara and the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry, was officially launched yesterday with 86 schoolchildren aged between 6 and 15 receiving their certificate of acceptance.
Programme founder Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor said Permata Seni students were chosen for their singing and musical talent from 8,000 schools in the Klang Valley, Perak and Penang. They were placed, according to their talents, in Permata Seni Koir and Permata Seni Muzik.
The latter focuses on the teaching of string and woodwind instruments like piano, violin, cello, harp, flute, piccolo and clarinet while the former teaches children between 6 and 12 vocal techniques and reading musical notes.
"Permata Seni students were selected by their music teachers from their respective schools before going for auditions held in September and October last year.
"The programme welcomes applicants nationwide. We hope to reach students from other states for the next intake," she said after launching the programme at the Malaysian Tourism Centre yesterday. Among the facilitators who will be training the students are vocal trainer and singer Syafinaz Selamat, theatre director Datin Sabera Shaik, Indonesian vocal trainer Prof Dr Siti Chairani Proehoeman and performing arts lecturer Syed Mustapha Syed Yassin.
Classes are held at Istana Budaya every Thursday and Sunday and music camps during school semester breaks.
Rosmah said the Permata Seni programme, created with the intention of reviving Malaysia's culture and heritage, was inspired by her visit to Trinidad and Tobago and Indonesia.
"I saw children performing their traditional dance at formal functions. They are very proud of their culture. I want to see that in our children, too."
She added that the programme would cultivate love and appreciation for traditional music and the arts.
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said he hoped to see more children from minority groups in Sabah and Sarawak being involved in the programme in the future. He added that he hoped music would become a bridge to harmony among the people.