19th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards: Triumph of a new generation of the Malaysian Performing Arts

THEATRE MALAM TAKDIR ENSEMBLE

The spotlight shone brightly once again as the 19th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards (19BCAA) made a triumphant return, illuminating the stage with brilliance and vibrancy, and welcoming a fresh new generation of players, both onstage and behind the scenes. 

Held at PJPAC’s Stage 1, 1 Utama, Petaling Jaya, this year’s awards ceremony, presented by BOH Plantations and Kakiseni and hosted by Kai Chalmers, marked a jubilant celebration of outstanding performances across dance, music, theatre and musical theatre, while acknowledging the contributions of emerging talents. VIPS in attendance included Rosnan Nordin, Deputy Director General (Culture and Arts) of JKKN; Daneal Syawal Abdullah, Assistant Director of Sports, Co-curricular, and Arts Division, Ministry of Education Malaysia. 

The Awards presenters included Datuk Ramli Ibrahim (2nd BOH Cameronian Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient), Datuk Zahim Albakri (BOH Cameronian Arts Awards recipient), Dr. Hjh. Yatela Zainal Abidin, CEO of Sime Darby Foundation; and Professor Dr. Anindita Dasgupta, Head of School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Taylor’s University.

If the heartfelt performances showcased were a measure of what’s out there, it is clear that the Malaysian performing arts sector is packed with boundless creativity and a wealth of talent. A total of 39 awards and RM62,000 in cash prizes were distributed on Sunday night, in acknowledgement of the incredible talent and dedication of the artists who continue to push boundaries and redefine artistic expression. 

In her opening speech, Caroline Russell, Executive Chairman of BOH Plantations Sdn Bhd, conveyed her heartfelt congratulations to the award winners, drawing parallels between BOH tea and the performing arts.

“The 19BCAA coincides with BOH’s 95th Anniversary. While we celebrate our legacy as Malaysia’s trusted tea grower of Cameron Highlands built over the last nine decades, BOH is Brewing for Tomorrow. We are guided to be future thinking, mindful to nurture sustainabiliTEA and the connection with and between our communiTEA. 

“Our collaboration with Kakiseni and, in extension, the arts community, allows us, through the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards, the privilege to support the nurturing of creative expressions and to connect with and enable connection within the performing arts community. 

“As BOH journeyed with the performing arts industry over the last two decades, we witnessed a parallel ‘brewing’. Many artistic expressions and creative endeavours have been shared. It has been enriching to witness the work of senior practitioners who have raised the bar of excellence through the years. We are also encouraged by the drive and tenacity of young and emerging talents who have worked very hard to carve their niche in the industry. Together as a community, practitioners can surely brew greater success for the performing arts industry. We envisage promising growth and greater potential in the years ahead as we nurture exposure, inclusivity, collaboration and engagement among practitioners to drive excellence in the performing arts,” added Russell.

Low Ngai Yuen, President of Persatuan Kakiseni, elaborated on this year’s theme, Pentas Kehidupan: Meneroka Tanpa Batasan (Life’s A Stage: Explore It Without Limits), underscoring the transformative impact of the arts, and the richness of the human experience as a wellspring of innovation and imagination. “In the tapestry of life, every moment, whether mundane or extraordinary, serves as inspiration for the arts,” she stated. “The 19BCAA not only celebrates artistic achievement but also underscores the innovation and imagination of our performing arts community.

“In a world where stories often go unnoticed as we spend hours and hours scrolling aimlessly, we stand to make Pentas Kehidupan not just seen or heard, but deeply felt – proving that the true essence of live art can never be paused or scrolled past.

19BCAA ALL WINNERS

“Through the lens of the arts, we glimpse the soul of society, its joys, sorrows and aspirations. It’s a mirror reflecting our collective humanity, reminding us of our interconnectedness and the beauty found in diversity. The arts is not merely a luxury but a vital cornerstone of civilisation, enriching lives, fostering empathy and igniting the flames of imagination in hearts young and old alike.”

As for the future, Low added that there would be updates and tweaks to the judging formats and methodologies in time for the next BCAA. She said: “This is the Awards’ commitment to staying relevant and responsive to the dynamic nature of the performing arts scene. Here’s to honouring the BCAA legacy and continuing to elevate our extraordinary talents for years to come.”

This year’s awards featured sub-categories in dance, music, musical theatre and theatre, as well as the “Best Of 2023” category. Each sub-category winner received a BOH Cameronian Arts Awards trophy and a cash prize of RM1,000, while each “Best Of 2023” Winner received a BOH Cameronian Arts Awards trophy and a cash prize of RM5,000. 

The BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Mathew Ngau Jau, 72, a towering figure in Malaysian arts and culture, and a living testament to the enduring legacy of the Kenyah Ngorek people of Borneo and the enchanting melodies of the sape’. With a career spanning decades, Mathew has not only preserved but also elevated his community’s traditional art forms, earning recognition nationally and internationally. 

As the curtains closed on the 19BCAA, the stage was set for a new chapter in Malaysia’s performing arts journey. With each accolade and applause, the event reaffirmed the message that life is a stage – an ever-evolving platform for creativity, expression and exploration.

The 19BCAA was more than just an awards ceremony; it was truly a celebration of the human spirit and the enduring power of the performing arts to transcend boundaries and ignite imaginations. As we raise our cups of BOH tea to toast to the winners and visionaries of the night, let us continue to embrace the limitless possibilities that unfold when life takes centre stage.

For the full list of the Winners, please visit kakiseni.org/awards/19BCAA

For more on 19BCAA follow @kakiseni on Twitter and Instagram or @mykakiseni on Facebook and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #19BCAA.

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