18th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards – Lights, camera, action!

18th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards
Malaysia’s premier performing arts awards is back with a bang, and for the first time ever on stage at a theatre!

Petaling Jaya, 14 May 2023 – After being forced out of the limelight for almost three years, the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards made a grand comeback, firing on all cylinders.

The 18th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards (18BCAA) handed out a total of 30 awards and a total of RM44,000 cash prizes to arts practitioners from various fields including dance, music, musical theatre and theatre at PJPAC’s Stage 1, a Proscenium Theatre equipped with the latest technologically-advanced equipment inside 1 Utama’s newest extension, 1 Utama E. The awards show was a glittering affair replete with not just one but four hosts, a string of songs and dances, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award!

The event was presented by BOH Plantations and Kakiseni, with chartered accounting firm BDO Malaysia as its new balloting partner. It was attended by BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd CEO Jason Foo, President of Persatuan Kakiseni Low Ngai Yuen and guest of honour, Rosnan bin Nordin, Timbalan Ketua Pengarah (Kebudayaan & Kesenian), Jabatan Kebudayaan & Kesenian Negara (JKKN) and several arts industry luminaries including actress-producer Puan Sri Tiara Jacquelina, Chief Executive Officer at Yayasan Sime Darby Dr. Hjh. Yatela Zainal Abidin, First Lady of Malaysian Theatre Dato’ Dr. Faridah Merican and music historian Paul Augustin, among others.

In his opening speech, CEO Foo congratulated all the winners of the night and gave special kudos to the persevering spirit and determination of everyone in the local performing arts sector who had made it through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2022, underlining BOH’s continued support of the sector.

“The BOH Cameronian Arts Awards, first launched in 2002, has always been a much-anticipated industry milestone to celebrate the talent, outstanding contribution and inspiring excellence in the performing arts industry.

“This year’s 18th edition brings with it a much deeper significance. It is a strong testament to the indomitable will of the human spirit, casting the spotlight on passion, tenacity and versatility. These ummph factors have helped our arts practitioners adjust their sails and navigate the difficult years to stay on course.

“As a result, we now stand at the threshold of a new beginning to celebrate A New Day. Setia Pada Senimu. From here on, we are confident the performing arts industry can only reach even greater heights of creative excellence,” said Foo.

In a short but heartfelt speech, Rosnan bin Nordin, Timbalan Ketua Pengarah (Kebudayaan & Kesenian), Jabatan Kebudayaan & Kesenian Negara (JKKN) paid tribute all those present by saying that “the arts unites all races. What you have is integrity and passion, don’t ever give up!”

President of Persatuan Kakiseni, Low Ngai Yuen, expounded further on BCAA’s theme this year: A New Day. Setia Pada Senimu and how it is not only a true reflection of the spirit of the performing arts community which has risen from the ashes with a renewed sense of purpose, but also a plea that the arts not be left behind in Malaysia’s recovery efforts.

“Our call to action this 18BCAA, #setiapadasenimu, is a cry to hasten the revival of the arts. We need artists to continue to work and create; we plead with arts companies and organisations to, please, hang in there; we humbly request for audiences to return to theatres; and we call for quicker, more progressive action and for financial investments to re-stimulate this sector now.”

Low added that it is during these times of navigating uncertainties that the arts is needed more than ever before to reflect, interpret, provoke and challenge conversations and thoughts on making and embracing new choices.

“It is critical that the arts not be forgotten,” she said. “But instead, through works that mirror, present and project life stories, that it continues to be an integral outlet to support our general wellbeing as a society, and act as an emotional release for all.”

Low added that the 18BCAA season programming was testament to how the arts sector has been doing its best to bounce back from the harrowing experiences we all went through during the pandemic.

This year’s awards featured a total of 30 categories in dance, music, musical theatre and theatre, including the “Best Of” category. The Awards Recipients were announced in three sections, namely, Technical & Design, Artistic and Performance. Each sub-category winner received a BOH Cameronian Arts Awards trophy and cash prize of RM1,000, while each Best Of Winner received a BOH Cameronian Arts Awards trophy and a cash prize of RM5,000.

The four engaging hosts for the two-hour black-tie event were Tria Aziz, Angie Cheah, Ronnie (Mohd Dzulhisyam Ismail) and Nave VJ (Navindran Vijayakumar). Christopher Ling, excited to return as show director for a fourth time, said that the idea to have an ensemble of hosts reflected the community spirit of the arts community.

“It is not just about one famous person up there. We wanted to put faces to the real people who have been loyal to the arts, to those who have plied their craft despite all the challenges that were hurled at them in these last couple of years,” said Ling. “Which is why you got to see more than 50 faces on stage tonight.”

In true awards-show fashion, and because the proceedings took place in a proper theatre, the 18BCAA was able to spectacularly showcase excerpts from the five “Best Of” nominees’ shows – A Notional History presented by Five Arts Centre (Theatre), Dark Light presented by Young Choral Academy (Music), Dream Of The Red Chamber presented by Lee Rubber Chinese Orchestra KL (Music), Follow The Light presented by theatrethreesixty (Musical Theatre) and N2 presented by La Danza Theatre (Dance).

Another awards-show highlight was the opening song, A New Day, composed by KuLT Productions, with music and lyrics by Kelvin Loh, Lydia Tong and Terence Toh, performed by the four versatile hosts for the night! Another original KuLT-penned ballad, Setia Pada Senimu, was later performed by formidable vocalist Tria, with her three co-hosts singing backing vocals.

After a long absence, the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award made a comeback this year, and the honours went to Datuk Mohd Baharim Mohd Sharip, 78, a veteran “Dondang Sayang” champion. Dondang Sayang – listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO – is a traditional Malay art that is still played in Melaka by the Malays, Baba Nyonya, Cheti and Portuguese. Mohd Baharim learnt how to play the violin and sing in the style of the traditional artform from his grandfather who was also a Dondang Sayang advocate. He has devoted the last five decades of his life to performing Dondang Sayang, and has five albums to his name.  

Mohd Baharim joins an illustrious list of BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award recipients including Dato’ Krishen Jit (2002), Datuk Ramli Ibrahim (2003), Dato’ Dr. Faridah Merican (2004), Dalang Dollah Baju Merah (2005), Dato’ Syed Alwi bin Syed Hassan (2006), Datuk Professor Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof (2007), Lee Lee Lan (2008) and The Temple of Fine Arts (2009).

This year’s Gamechanger was also announced: Kuching-born, LA-based music producer Alvin Wee, is the first Malaysian to win a Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Award in Hollywood for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing Award for his work on Disney’s animated feature film, Encanto. He has also worked on numerous other blockbusters including Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), the live-action Mulan (2020), No Time to Die (2021), and TopGun: Maverick (2022). Wee continues to produce work on this side of the globe too, and contributed to many projects including for the song Malaysia Prihatin (2020) for Hari Malaysia and Sarawak Gemilang (2021) for Hari Sarawak.

The BCAA Gamechangers are individuals or organisations who have trail-blazed the industry with their distinct artistic voice. During the Cammies season, they are invited to share their experiences and work journey in their respective fields of interest and professionalism.

For more on 18BCAA follow @kakiseni on Twitter and Instagram or @mykakiseni on Facebook and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #18BCAA.

For the full list of the 18th BCAA winners, please visit https://kakiseni.org/awards/18bcaa/

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