Monday, October 20, 2008

Mui Suong Cafe and Foochow Opera

Source : Foochow Opera 78 rpm black vinyl records

I am glad to come across this photo from Heritage Post Singapore. It was like finding a long lost (30 years?) gold bracelet in a small milo tin left behind by your grandmother.

These records are very hard to come by now. I thought I would have a great source to take photos of these. So I called a distant uncle a few days ago who gave me some very sad news. He told me that he had THROWN his Foochow Opera records away!! What a pity. They could be a part of any museum in Sibu or SArawak. One man's rubbish is another man's treasure.... He said that his daughter in law complained that the records occupied too much space in the house. So he had to throw them away.

This brings to mind the nice evenings I remember as I hanged out the Old Street playground of Sibu. The scenery was a brilliant pink and lavendar sunset with the small shy tunes of er hu filtered through the air. Birds would wing above in the skies and a soft gentle breeze would cool my flushed face. As the old men sang their heart out we young kids would swing high up the air and swoop up and down again and again.

Somehow this very stable and slow kind of lifestyle sticks to my mind all the time. How nice it was for the gentlemen to live out their twilight years in this way I thought at that time. Lots of camaraderie and warm ever lasting friendship and I had wished this for myself and my Goo Poh who so patiently took us to the playground. And in the evening hours the scent of tea mixed with coffee was in the air.

After about an hour we would walk back towards Island Road and allow Koo Poh to know that we were going home safe and sound to Kung Ping Road. Somehow at that time I so much wanted that such worry-less evenings would last forever.


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This famous First Foochow Coffee Shop - Mui Suong has a special place in every one's heart in Sibu. In fact the Foochow opera music of Sibu found a niche in this cafe a long time ago. It was a very enthusiastic group of Foochow elders who played their er hu and other instruments to perpectuate the Foochow Opera in Sibu.

Foochow Opera was performed only once or twice a year then. And after old Mr. Wong passed away perhaps with no one to lead the Foochow Opera took a back seat. Probably it is hard to organize performances now especially when there are few who could appreciate it.

On the other hand in Fuzhou China the Foochow Opera is very healthy. Naturally with more 20 million Fujian people it is easy to organize the opera and even set up both public and private funds to encourage such arts.

Will the curtain rise again for Foochow Opera in Sibu?

2 memories:

Robert Rizal Abdullah said...

Are those opera records the old records that were using a tiny needle at the playing arm?

I remember as a small boy in my long house in the early 50s, a rich uncle bought that old record player that need to be winded. Can't remember though what songs they were playing. It was a big hit then!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

These records are very old ones from the 50's even older than the 33 rpm. Yes the record player uses the curved arm and the needles are very short ones which look like nails. You have to manually wind up the player.

Wish I have one. But I shall soon take photos of the old record players my friend has...will blog about that topic....

Thanks for visiting. May be you can locate some old Foochow opera records somewhere?

Nice to know that someone in the longhouse was keen to own such a record player...I agree it must be a sure hit with every one.


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