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HM Royal Marines To Premiere “Taiping” In England!
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HM Royal Marines To Premiere “Taiping” In England!

by Deric EctOctober 12, 2015

POOR old Taiping. It was set for greatness when it took over as capital of Perak in 1876. In 1937 however, natives decided to go for its hipster older sister Ipoh (drawing in crowds since then too) which has held onto that title ever since.

An image of Taiping from 1937. Picture via ChingChaiLah

An image of Ipoh from 1937. Picture via Nancy Chan.

Fast forward 78 years and the world is finally ready for a musical composition dedicated to the humble town of Taiping.

Commissioned by Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grace OBE, Principal Director of Music of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service, the piece serves as a tribute to the town that holds a special place in the heart of England — British intervention was what it took for them to notice Taiping’s je ne sais quoi and promote it to state capital back in the late 1800s.

Responsible for the concisely-titled “Taiping” is Petaling Jaya resident Paul Baker, an Englishman who has played a pivotal part in Malaysia’s performing arts scene.

Taiping in the 1880s! Image via

Taiping in the 1880s! Image via Malaysia Central.

Known to many as founder and principal of Bentley Music Academy in Mutiara Damansara, the man created a suite in four movements, each one based on a location in Taiping.

“I absolutely adore Taiping but I strongly believe it is seriously under marketed,” stated Paul, “and this is my humble attempt to contribute to correcting that through music.”

His love for Taiping stems from the fact that his wife is from the town. Aside from basing the suite’s movements on particular locations within the town, he also dedicated the entire thing to his in-laws (eat your heart out, The Journey!).

“Taiping” begins with “The Old Market”, an homage to its subject which has stood for the past century which is due to be demolished. Established in the 1880s, the market was made possible by history’s own Sir Frank Swettenham which many of you may remember from your buku sejarah.

Taiping Market 4

This historical markets of Taiping will be demolished soon!

Following “The Old Market” are “The Kopitiam”, “Lake Gardens”, and “Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)”. The symphony ends with the national anthem — also the state anthem of Perak.

In creating the suite, Paul has gone for a wide and eclectic range of sounds and melodies based on the history and nature of the town; expect Malay, Chinese and British colonial influence to seep through each movement.

The final movement, “Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut)” for example highlights our national anthem as well as the sound of the fife and drum which represents the British military. It conveys the view at the top of Maxwell Hill, which encapsulates the “conflict between the view being of a British Colony or an independent Malaysia”.

While with the Royal Marines, Paul was put through a rigorous three years of musical training — a compulsory thing if you’re a member of the military band. He enrolled at the age of 16, spent a good 10 years of his life with them, and even got to serve aboard the Queen’s very own Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia.

Paul put his time and training to good use while he was with the Royal Marines, composing regimental march “Up Periscope”, a musical piece that is now regarded as a standard in the military band march repertoire.

Music is really serious business when you’re part of a British military band.

The world premiere of “Taiping” will take place on 19 November at St Mary’s Church, Fratton, Portsmouth. It will be performed at one of a series of popular winter concerts given every year by the Staff Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

About The Author
Profile photo of Deric Ect
Deric Ect
Deric is contributor and former managing editor of The Daily Seni.
  • pavithran
    October 13, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I am so proud of this! Thank you Paul Baker and the Staff Band of HM Royal Marines

  • David Chiang Kim Seng
    October 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks Paul, for doing this.

    From a Taiping native. .. kudos

    • March 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Å“uvre de linguiste acharné, je me fixe sur les liens sponsorisés de ce site nordique, dans la chandelle de droite et j’y découvre un lien vers:Bildsafari frÃ¥n Göteborg, expression à laquelle je n’entrave que dalle, mais qui me conforte bien dans ma conclusion que nous évoluons en territoire su8eÃois.H©u&#d230; Non !La fille s’appellerait Christine, si c’était le cas !

  • Shyanne Ong
    October 14, 2015 at 5:19 am

    More information please, as hopefully able to attend to share this event. I’m from Taiping but living in Essex, UK

    • Profile photo of Deric Ect
      October 15, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Hi Shyanne, at the bottom of the article it states “The world premiere of “Taiping” will take place on 19 November at St Mary’s Church, Fratton, Portsmouth.” You should definitely drop by.

  • MAMZ
    October 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    It was set for greatness when it took over as capital of Perak in 1876. In 1937 however, natives decided to go for its hipster older sister Ipoh (drawing in crowds since then too) which has held onto that title ever since.

    Decision made by the native or decision made by British colonial?

    October 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Hope the muzic with reflect the green, calm ,clean atmosphere.Taiping welcomes u with rain and birds in the morning .I hope sounds of birds and rain are heard in the muzic.

  • Hazel Chang
    October 15, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for doing this, my hometown Taiping, love it!

  • March 24, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I LOVE this idea! Livi will treasure them forever, and I love the idea of something sweet and sentimental to soften the blows life will inevitably throw at her. When Maya was born, my brother gave us 18 letters for her to opn8o#e211;&ne on each birthday. I can’t wait to see what’s inside of them, but we’re waiting! We opened the first on her first birthday (12/18/2011) and can’t wait for the rest.What a beautiful, beautiful idea. Borrowing

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