Words by Stan Sy

It’s been said time and time again that music is a universal language.

And music may very well bring together the ten (10) ASEAN nations through the ASEAN Music Festival 2017, which is happening tomorrow, November 14, at 7 p.m. at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Organized by the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), the free concert features eight acts from the ASEAN member states and six of our top local artists in the music industry.

The eight acts from our neighboring ASEAN countries include rock band D’Hask from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodian duo Nimith & Sophea, violinist and singer Mia Ismi Halida from Indonesia, singer Sack Cells from Laos, Malaysian ethnic band Nading Rhapsody, Myanmar pop star Eint Chit, Thai folk band Asia Seven, and Vietnamese singer Tuan Anh.

Last Saturday, the concert organizers formally introduced the international artists at a welcome dinner held at the PETA Theater. The event included performances from Nimith & Sophea, who performed “Sambath Rath Khemara,” a song about Khmer culture that was equal parts traditional and contemporary. Meanwhile, Mia Ismi Halida performed her own take on Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” which included her playing the violin on top of singing the track. Myanmar’s Eint Chit livened the night up with her original song, “123 Chit Lite Tot,” and Vietnam’s Tuan Anh delivered a soulful rendition of Đất Việt’s “Cơn Mưa Tháng 5,” one of his country’s most popular songs.

Speaking in front of the media, the artists all talked about being excited to be part of an event like this where they get to showcase their talents on a large scale. They also mentioned the struggles that they go through as artists in pursuing their craft as musicians in their respective home countries. One particularly light moment during the question-and-answer was when Cambodian band member Chau Sophanarith sang a few lines from the Freddie Aguilar classic, “Anak,” much to the delight of everyone in the room.

All eight acts will be performing live at the ASEAN Music Festival 2017 tomorrow, along with Parokya Ni Edgar, Sandwich, Franco, Silent SanctuaryThe Ransom Collective, and Ben&Ben. Admission is free.

For more details, you may visit the ASEAN Music Festival 2017 event page or text 0956-591-3367.