In November 2021, the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) announced its first Teman Warisan (Cultural Heritage Ambassador) recipients at the inaugural Hari Warisan (Cultural Heritage Appreciation Day) organised by the foundation. Guest-of-Honour Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, presented 31-year-old Anis Qurratu’aini Azman, with an award in recognition of her dedication and contribution to the Malay arts and heritage sector. In total, 3 recipients were selected to be the foundation’s first Teman Warisan.
Anis Qurratu’aini Azman is a Psychology graduate from the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) who is also a member of the traditional Malay music ensemble, Orkes Sri Temasek and traditional contemporary Malay music group, AltoAura. Her passion lies in singing, specifically, the syair – a traditional form of Malay prose fast disappearing from the Malay literary landscape. Anis is currently working as a Communications Executive and does hosting for corporate events in her free time.
MHF had the pleasure of interviewing Anis to find out more about her interests in the Malay arts and culture scene, thoughts on being a Teman Warisan recipient and some advice for the future generation of young Malay arts practitioners.
Q: How early did your passion for singing begin and what made you realise it was something you wanted to pursue?
My passion for singing started when I was in my teenage years, as I was exposed to the Malay radio station, Warna 94.2FM quite frequently – Malay songs and poetry. I never planned to pursue this passion as I was just going with the flow.
Q: As a young performing arts practitioner, what influenced you to perform traditional Malay music and syair?
I believe it is the exposure from my family, where almost every topic is about the arts, whether drama, theatre, dance, singing, poetry, etc. Back in primary school, I topped a Syair competition among the Primary 5 cohort and I remembered prior to the competition, my grandmother advised me on how to sing the syair with the melody of ‘Selendang Delima’. Apart from that, following my parents to rehearsals and events made me learn how one works on stage presence.
Q: How did you discover Orkes Sri Temasek and AltoAura? What are your roles in these groups?
AltoAura: My brother was part of AltoAura and it was in 2015 when the band was looking for a singer who can sing Malay traditional songs. I went for an audition and was selected. Since then, I have followed them to weddings and shows. I am a singer in AltoAura.
Orkestra Sri Temasek: I knew Orkestra Sri Temasek (OrST) from Afi Hanafi when he gathered local orchestra singers back in 2016 – now named PermaiSuara. He shared how OrST is under Tampines West Community Club and does educational & interactive events yearly. I am currently serving as the secretary of the committee.
Q: Both your parents and grandmother are in the entertainment industry as well, what have you learnt about performing arts from them?
Namely, sincerity and determination. I held these two values with me closely in every performance I did. Any kind of stage presence, always do it with sincerity. Be determined, they always advised – Do things fully, not halfway, not quarter. Do it till the end (till you attain success)!
Q: How do you juggle your passion and your job as a Communications Executive?
Juggling two responsibilities that relate very much is manageable as I am fortunate that my job complements my passion. As it involves a lot of communication and liaison, it helps me learn and manage different scenarios.
Q: Share with us one of your most memorable performances.
It has to be the recent one during Hari Warisan, performing with Madam President Halimah Yacob gracing the occasion with her presence as the Guest-of-Honour. I was at my calmest to perform and present syair.
Q: What does being a Teman Warisan recipient mean to you?
Even before receiving this recognition, I’ve always loved sharing events where my friends are involved because I know how hard one works for a production or event. Being a Teman Warisan means playing a bigger role in the industry. It sort of gives me a ‘pass’ to learn, share, and be exposed to more cultural events or happenings in Singapore.
Q: As a Teman Warisan recipient, what do you hope to accomplish to continue championing Malay heritage?
I hope to be resourceful and determined in seeking knowledge so as to be able to share everywhere I go. As my nature of work involves people and events, it’s a good practice for me to share. It may seem small, but this practice needs to be consistent so that one day they can relate Malay heritage and me as an arts practitioner.
Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for the performing arts scene in Singapore, especially for the local artists and practitioners? Any advice for young Singaporeans who are considering a career in the performing arts scene?
I hope that despite our differences we’d come together as one. In fact, during COVID, I started seeing support for efforts that we do virtually. I hope that it continues when physical shows are back. Small efforts go a long way. Advice for the young ones, even if you don’t know what you want exactly, follow your heart and work smart. Socialise, get to know people from different walks of life, always be humble and do your very best. What comes from the heart, reaches the heart.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
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