Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sibu's Tung Lok Sia Brass Band

The Foochow Community is very well organised in many ways. Since the establishment of Tung Lok Sia, an association set up by some Foochow elders , there is always a brass band at their command to help with weddings, funerals and birthday celebrations. The meaning of Tung Lok Sia is Association of United Joy.

This group of musicians play the trumpet, trombone, drums and the French Horn too.
Their presence is always felt (and heard) whenever there is an occasion in Sibu.

Today, the Chairman of Tung Lok Sia is Mr. Tang Hua Kiong. The Association ,being Foochow in nature ,is always in great demand.

These musicians would play tunes like "This is My Father's World", "Jesus Loves Me" and others in extremely slow beat and make them as mournful as possible for funerals. Somehow whenever the notes are "pulled" for a longer beat, our hearts just break into pieces. Grief is in the air!!

The brass band would be wearing their black and white uniforms and remain as distant as possible, with straight faces and calm demeanour. Although they play foreign instruments, they are nevertheless very Chinese in character.

Some how they always seem to be so conversant with the rituals of a funeral that they never seem to miss a beat. I would often think that no funeral could really move forward without their drum beat.

Even if there is another group of musicians playing the Chinese cymbals and other Chinese instruments they do not seem perturbed at all. And as if right on cue, they would play out their mournful tunes. And a few mourners would start crying again.

The brass band would be with the funeral ritual from the beginning to the end, which could be at the cemetery. This would definitely depend on how close the family is with the Tung Lok Sia, or how much donation the bereaved family has made to the association. So quite often a lorry would bring the whole brass band for the final journey towards the cemetery and it would play out as many sad tunes as possible along the way thus letting folks know that there is a death.

Many of these brass band members have been with the band for more than twenty years and some have already very greying hair.

Sometimes I wonder how long this band will be around, and how many younger Foochow musicians will join the band to continue their services to the Foochow Community.

1 memories:

Unknown said...

Yes, my father used to be an active member in Sarikei.


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