Free gig celebrating music of Iskandar Mirza Ismail at Esplanade Concert Hall

The late composer Iskandar Mirza Ismail's music will be celebrated at a free concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall this Friday.

Led by theatre director Jeremiah Choy, the show will feature major names including singer-composer Dick Lee, theatre director Ivan Heng and actress- director Selena Tan, as well as Iskandar's younger brother, music teacher-composer Indra Ismail, who will direct the music at the event.

Choy, 53, says: "When Iskandar passed on, he was buried quickly and many of us didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye. So his family and friends got together and said, 'Let's do a memorial.'"

He tells Life! that the concert, which comes close to three months after Iskandar died of lung and brain cancer at age 58 on Nov 1, will be a memorial to the man who wrote and directed music for many major national events including National Day Parade (NDP), Chingay street parades, the Asian Youth Games in 2009 and the Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

Iskandar, who was a Cultural Medallion recipient, had also worked on pop albums by Lee as well as Mandopop stars such as Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung and Sandy Lam.

Indra, 48, says that working on the show will be bittersweet for him.

"It's sad that he won't be there when we are paying tribute to his music but it feels really good to know that his friends have come together and worked with our family to do this show.

"He played a very big role in my life, he was the one who inspired me to learn music and I always looked up to him."

The scheduled hour-long show will be divided into four parts. The first segment will feature songs he wrote for cultural exchange programme Spotlight Singapore over the years.

The second will showcase music he did for national events such as NDP and the annual new year countdown fireworks show at the Esplanade.

Following that, Iskandar's friends such as Lee and Tan will pay tribute to the composer's life and work, while the final segment will highlight his work with young and emerging talents through projects such as the annual ChildAid charity concerts.

The Esplanade is providing the 1,600-capacity venue for the show, which is open to everyone. Those who are interested to attend are required to RSVP via e-mail or text message.

The most recent ChildAid charity concert last November also paid tribute to Iskandar, showcasing his songs as well as having a multimedia projection of his images during the concert.

Iskandar had been heavily involved with ChildAid as creative director since its second edition in 2006. Last year's concert was one of the final projects that he worked on in the last few months of his life.

ChildAid, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, has raised $12.13 million for the ST School Pocket Money Fund and BT Budding Artists Fund charities in the last 10 years.

Tan, 44, says that she will remember Iskandar as a man who was "very gentle and kind and had an infectious laugh".

"He might be the man in charge of a huge orchestra, but he always had a ready and welcoming smile for everyone. He made working on the big projects less intimidating."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg