Thursday, 14 August 2014

Weekend of music at Eurasian Fiesta 2014

This story below is reproduced almost verbatim from the Media Release of the Eurasian Fiesta 2014 which takes place from six o'clock this Sunday afternoon, 17 Aug 2014, at the Che Hoon Kor Moral Uplifting Society building in Macalister Road, Penang.

I had attended the 2013 edition of the Fiesta last year at the St Xavier's Primary School in Pulau Tikus and found it utterly fascinating. Stayed back a long while to enjoy the live music played by incredible musicians and was so reluctant to leave at the end. This year, I shall be bringing my wife along to the festival and I know that she will love it too.

The timeless story of the Eurasians is set to be played out via music, food and cultural activities at the Eurasian Fiesta 2014.

The past and the future are set to collide in the present ….. and find that they get on very well. Poised to become the largest and most exciting gathering of Eurasians from Malaysia and beyond, the Eurasian Fiesta is an annual event ensconced within the George Town Festival in Penang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a celebration of the unique history and culture of the Eurasians - the descendants of marriages between locals and the Portuguese, English and Dutch who colonised Malaya at different points in history (and geography), as well as the Spanish, French, German and other Europeans who sailed with the trade winds of the time. The result was a community bursting with vibrancy, with a rich culinary and musical culture.

Even as the Eurasian Fiesta celebrates this fascinating history, it will help to chart the community’s course in current waters, cementing a bond of fraternity and unity. This year, the event will be held at the Moral Uplifting Society building in Macalister Road, Pulau Tikus, starting at 6p.m. and going on till 11p.m. Admission is free, and the fiesta is open to the public with over 3,000 visitors expected.

Veteran entertainer James Rozells initiated the Eurasian Fiesta in 2012, along with fellow musical alumnus and partner Kathleen Rodrigues. According to James, Pulau Tikus is the natural choice for the event venue, also known as Kampong Serani, as it was the birthplace of the Penang Eurasian community.

Eurasian food is a marriage of European sensibilities and local flavours, and the Eurasian strongholds of Penang and Malacca differ slightly in their cuisines.

The spice trade was what brought the initial Portuguese sailors to Malacca’s port in 1511, and you will find that many of the community’s dishes are heavily-spiced. A similar sense infuses Penang Eurasian delicacies, but the English influence is stronger on the island, so you’ll find colonial favourites like corned beef stew, a descendant of the traditional English stew, or mulligatawny (known colloquially as pepper water) on offer.

The fiesta will see Eurasians coming from far and wide to renew old ties and weave new ones - and a delicious time is promised to all.

Families will dig deep into their recipe treasure chests to come up with culinary gems for the evening, with staples like debal devil curry, semur and salt fish pickle on sale. As every family has their own interpretation and secret touch for their dishes, expect a glowing tapestry of flavours.

As any Eurasian will tell you, no celebration is complete without its rich and fragrant cakes and pastries. Making its debut last year, the Blue Ribbon Sugee Cake Contest uncovered the best Eurasian Sugee Cake in the land with the winner being Kathleen Rodrigues from Penang. Among the distinguished panel of judges were Joe Sidek (director of the George Town Festival), Helen Ong (food author and critic), Tommy Lee (boulanger and owner of Tommy Le Baker), Marina Emmanuel (NST Penang bureau chief 2013), Narelle McMurtrie (owner of China House/Bon Ton), hotel General Managers, executive chefs and restaurant owners.

This year’s “Blue Ribbon Contest” seeks to crown the Eurasian Pineapple Jam Tarts queen (or king).

An eclectic musical line-up at the fiesta will include three generations of top Malaysian Eurasian performers, and will take the evening well beyond expected heights. From country & western to good old-fashioned rock & roll, bluesy numbers to hard-edged rock, the fiesta will have it all. Classic golden oldies will rub shoulders with the contemporary. Covers and originals will schmooze - and all will get along just fine!!

Eurasian entertainers have played an important and influential role in the country’s musical evolution, particularly from the 1950s. From Penang, the likes of Jimmy Boyle and Larry Rodrigues, Joe Rozells, Rudy and George Baum, Kathleen Rodrigues, The Rozells, the Scullys and the Jeremiahs have all made their marks on the Malaysian soundscape.

They’ve blazed the trails, and a new generation of Eurasian artistes now looks to the future as they create a sound of their own – like the edgy, youthful Volatile who perform their own original numbers (available on iTunes now!!).

Stalwarts of the music scene like the smooth EZ Band from KL featuring the likes of Eddie Zachariah, Ronnie Felix and Jerry Ventura and the eponymous Rozells will be joined onstage by strong performances from bands and musicians from as far as Singapore like John Silva and Finian Lowe, Tres Cambrados from Malacca and Brian Duorado from Ipoh. Penang Eurasian bands -Transmission Ends, Volatile, Somebody Who featuring Christopher Estrop and Jonathan Scully, Endangered Species and Penang’s Darrin Rozells make up the host’s music list.

Also on the musical menu are Michele Baum, Bonnie Jeremiah, William Scully, George Baum and Leander Jeremiah among others, and a 12-piece Eurasian Acapella singing group.

Eurasian dances, cultural and modern, representing the Portuguese, Dutch, English, European and Asian Eurasian communities will definitely be a colourful and delightful addition to the fiesta.

The Eurasian Fiesta promises fun, good food, great music and more. A photo exhibition depicting Kampong Serani’s historical significance and another showcasing the Eurasian music heritage of Penang will be on hand to commemorate the birth of the Penang Eurasian community. There will also be books on Eurasian history, Eurasian music CDs, and unique arts & crafts for sale.

The Eurasian Fiesta will be an evening of eating, drinking and making merry … of celebrating old memories and creating new ones.

ASEAN integration is imminent with the date set for 2015. “Building Bridges” with Eurasian communities overseas such as in Thailand, Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong and other ASEAN countries who have had similar historical experiences as a result of world trade routes and inter-marriages is the Fiesta’s theme and objective for 2015.

Plans to expand the Eurasian Fiesta internationally and extend invitations to these Asian Eurasian communities, who too have their own special history, music and cuisine worthy of recognition, are already in the pipeline. The Fiesta aims to be the catalyst that will put Penang on the world map as the “Eurasian Cultural Capital of Asia”. We have content, talent and the history to justify the dream.

For media inquiries and more information, please send an email to: or or call James (017.4861885)/Kathy (017.4750913).

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