Kuala Lumpur, 20 October 2003 - Young Ashley Tan Hoong Peng aspires to shoot to international stardom given the opportunity and benefits of the experience.
Come Sunday February 8 (7.30pm), Ashley will be singing for a concert, to be staged at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Jalan Maharajalela in the Federal Capital.

Jointly-organized by the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Tsun Jin Alumni and Suria Music and Arts Centre in Taynton, the concert would be her first major public performance since graduating from UCSI (University College Sedaya International) in 2002, where she specialized in Classical Music. 

The concert is part of the attempts by the organizers to raise funds towards her music education in University of Melbourne, where she will be majoring in voice. 

Her repertoire includes Handel’s “V’adoro, Pupile from Giulio Cesare”, Mozart’s “Venite, inginocciatevi!” and Strauss’ “Schlangende Herzen,” besides a repertoire of songs in Mandarin. Some of these classicals may sound alien to the contemporary music lovers, but Ashley has other songs in the pipeline for her supporters.

“The concert will be a blend of songs in Mandarin, German, French, Italian, with the emcee addressing the audience in English as well as in Mandarin,” she says. “It’s my hope to make the evening very entertaining.”
Aspiring to become an international artiste like Sumi Jo, Ashley says the journey to stardom will undoubtedly be a difficult one, but she is single-minded about her goal in life.

“I understand clearly there is a huge gap between my dream and reality; however, I have never given up and I am determined to pursue my dream,” says the 22-year-old from Pandan Indah, Kuala Lumpur.

“There will be challenges and disappointments along the journey but it will not deter me from fulfilling my passion and ambition. Given the opportunity, I would also like to do some recording myself.”

Ashley, who first took part in singing competition at the age of eight while still studying at Kuen Cheng Primary School (I) and won first prize for her rendition of “Beautiful Eyes” in Mandarin, said singing has been her passion since young. 

At the age of 10, her band won second prize in the marching band competition at Dataran Merdeka in 1990. “We were very proud of our achievement,” she reminisced.

As the age of 12, she was selected to participate in Suara MAS (The Golden Voices of Kuala Lumpur) after a series of audition. “It was a choir cultural exchange at the Sydney Opera House and Canberra, where a group of dancers and singers performed to Australian audience,” she recalled. “We were very young and inexperienced then, but we made it!”

That trip, she added, helped to boost her confidence in public performances. Her desire to perform as an artiste continued to develop stronger, and there were more opportunities for her to perform overseas.

“Recently, I joined the Turandot Opera production, where I met a lot of international singers from Belgium, England, Taiwan, Germany, Japan and Malaysia. I saw how they presented the music, and felt very touched. I admire them a lot. I could even feel their great passion for music. It makes me feel that I want to carry on with the journey to stardom, no matter what the price is as long as I do not compromise on my principles.”

Ashley was also invited perform as a solo singer at a Cultural Exchange programme, between the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Choir from Malaysia and Yi Nian Choir from Singapore, held at the Singapore Victoria Hall recently. Her rendition of “The Endless Song” (composed by Xian Kok Tong, Singapore) and “Four Seasons Song” (a folk song from China) brought endless applause.

She also joined a trip to China where the 59-member choir performed at Tong Ji University in Shanghai, with Ashley being the youngest. “Most of the other choir members were in their fifties and sixties, so that made me like a young swan in their midst,” she said. 

Currently studying under vocalist, Cecilia Yap, Ashley has been active in music while in school. She was a member of the marching band at her primary school, Kuen Cheng One, where she was the youngest member, having joined in the band when she was only in Standard Three. A year later, she became the conductor of the band, and thereafter, the captain of the band for the next two years. Even at college level, Ashley’s active participation in annual concerts organized by the then Sedaya International College (now UCSI, University College Sedaya International) has left a mark on the music school. 

Elizabeth Lou, who is principal of UCSI School of Music, recalls Ashley’s involvement in school activities. “She was a talent herself,” she said. “We are happy that she has such a great ambition to be an international artiste.”

Ashley was given the opportunity to perform solo in UCSI’s Annual Charity Concert every year from 2000 through 2003. It was a most memorable experience for her.

The third in the family, with four other siblings, Ashley is also a school debater at Tsun Jin High School, where she won a prize for being the Best Debater in 1994. She was single-handedly raised by her own mother. Entrance to the concert will be based on donations of RM20 and RM50. Donations above RM300 will be entitled to two VIP seats. Tickets are available from Chinese Assembly Hall Secretariat (tel: 03-22746645), Tsun Jin Alumni (tel: 03-9130 4304), Suria Music and Arts Centre (tel: 03-91309244) or Ashley (tel: 019-365 1403).