Showcasing the talents of Sarawak

IT was a night of glitz and glamour for more than 100 guests at the recent Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) Third Anak Sarawak Appreciations Awards at Hilton Kuching.

Forty-five new Honorary Convention Ambassadors together with local dignitaries and guests were treated to an evening ofexcitement at this year’s event themed ‘Phantom of the Opera’, organised by SCB and managed by Events Horizon Event Management to recognise those who have made successful bids to bring new national and international conventions to Sarawak.

MAESTROS: D’Arts Ensemble, a blossoming group of eight young talented musicians from varied professional backgrounds, play prominent musical pieces from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and other hit musical productions.

It acknowledged their commitment and dedication to the growth of Sarawak’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) industry.

Event manager Jason Chew told thesundaypost the idea behind the theme was to whisk the guests on a whimsical journey to an imaginary theatre in Paris.

“We want to create for the guests the experience of actually feeling the ambience of Paris as they make their way to catch the Phantom of the Opera,” he said.

To do this, Chew went all out to transform the grand ballroom into the City of Love. Guests were greeted by stewards and stewardesses at the entrance which had become Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. On getting their ‘boarding pass’ checked, they sauntered through the beautiful streets of Paris.

Along the way, ‘street artistes’ such as jugglers, mime artists, violinists and magicians greeted guests who even took the opportunity to have their portraits drawn by a street caricaturist before entering the ballroom where their evening continued with live performances from local artistes.

Guests were transported back to the year where the Opera Garnier was host to the notorious Phantom. The evening saw the hit musical production’s most famous characters Raoul, Christine and Phantom, played by Eddie Chan Sing Cheng, Misato Sakai and Felix Jebbie Juma respectively, serenading guests with songs such as ‘Think of Me’, ‘The Music of the Night’, ‘All I Ask of You’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.

With their melodious voices and great chemistry on stage, the trio delivered a sensational performance that clearly mesmerised the guests, including Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip, SCB chairman Dato Sri Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad and SCB CEO Jill Henry.

Among the performers at the ceremony were D’Arts Ensemble, a blossoming group of eight young talented musicians from varied professional backgrounds, SONS Choir as well as dancers from Right Steps Dance Studio whose founders have set the trend and dance evolution not only in the Asian community but also other ethnicities as well.

According to Chew, the event was also a great time to showcase the talents of Sarawak.

“Sarawakians are a very talented people and everything you see here — from performances right up to the setup of the stage are all done by locals,” he said.

This, he added, was proof that Sarawakians could also organise events of international standards.

The highlight of the evening was, of course, the presentation of awards to the 45 Honorary Convention Ambassadors.

Next year, the state will host major conferences such as the 19th Malaysian Urological Conference, World Organisation of National Colleges, Toastmaster District 51 2010 Lutong Convention, Napoleon Hill International Convention (NHIC) 2010, FEIIC World Engineering Conference 2010 and Prudential Insurance Mid-Year Conference. These events are expected to bring 21,970 delegates to Sarawak with a total occupancy of 69,190 room nights to generate RM43.8 million in delegate expenditure.