MALAYSIAN pop powerhouse Juwita Suwito is back in Melbourne performing alongside the edgy Orchestre Nouveau as part of Fiesta Malaysia 2013. Gayertree Subramainiam has more.
The last time Malaysian pop powerhouse Juwita Suwito was in Melbourne, she was on her fourth visit to this city and had a slate of intimate performances lined up to dazzle audiences.
Speaking to Meld from her home in Kuala Lumpur, Juwita expressed great excitement at her second onstage collaboration with edgy and young Orchestre Nouveau, led by conductor Zach Tay.
She speaks fondly about her early memories of listening to classical symphonies, and recalls being “totally blown away” by David Foster’s ‘Winter Games’ album.
Juwita and the orchestra have come a long way since their maiden collaboration back in 2009 at Arrow on Swanston, also home to Meld magazine.
“An orchestra playing contemporary music just seemed utterly fresh and cool to me and my music-loving mates! So you could just imagine the excitement when Zach approached me about collaborating with Orchestre Nouveau back in 2009,” she says.
“Being across the sea back in Kuala Lumpur, the first thing I did was to Google their past performances because let’s just say there are orchestras and there are orchestras!”
It’s safe to say that she was convinced well enough by what she discovered to join forces with them. Our brief exchange did very little to mask her enthusiasm to jump right back on stage to rehearse for their upcoming concert.
Probably most renowned for her prowess in song-writing, Juwita confessed that the aspect of her creativity has taken a backseat in the last few years.
“After releasing and promoting my first two albums, the Live EP and two stand-alone singles, I realised that I had hit a plateau in my writing. So instead of flogging a well, not dead but tired horse, I decided to develop my musical style.”
This sabbatical Juwita embarked on paved the way for her maiden voyage into the world of musical theatre in 2010. Through that she started to explore crossover jazz in 2011, which then led her on to the main stage at the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival in 2012.
A flair for musical genius must run in the family, as she also featured in the gospel albums ‘Christmas with Friends’ (2010) and ‘HeART of Hymns’ (2012) produced by her brother Aubrey Suwito.
Soon enough, the longing to write came back again and she has since been equipping herself with more tools to master the craft of creating her upcoming songs, she says.
There are strong, recurring elements of faith and belief that weave through her songs. When asked where she gets the drive to write such songs, she quotes Lenny Kravitz – “music is a reflection of what I go through”.
“In a sense my songs are an expression of my thoughts, feelings and observations. I do a lot of reflection when I’m writing and it often brings new clarity and fresh discoveries. My work is also greatly influenced by my faith and belief system, which I think is the case with most folks,” she explains.
As an artiste who epitomises where hard work and perseverance, coupled with passion can take you, she has this piece of wisdom to pass on to aspiring young artists, “Work at your craft. And never stop learning.”
Performing old favourites from her award winning albums, the seasoned professional is expected to exceed expectations with her confident gait and upliftingly refreshing sound at the exclusive Juwita Suwito – Live in Fiesta Malaysia concert this Saturday 6pm, March 16 at BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne.