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​UTP’s enterprising rock band swaps angry chords for versatile performing flair

Rock Band Deviates from the Norm to Inspire More Budding Musicians


When it comes to music, the indie moniker is a confusing one. It has grown to include so much. In a sense, it says as much about the people who are drawn to it as it does about the people who make it.


UTP’s music band, Virtuoso UTP, however, defines indie music by pairing up two qualities that are not often seen together from a band—enterprising and independent. In short, the band has great music nous and versatility to match. From the indie rock spectrum to classic Malay, the band has become a seasoned group of performing musicians.


Now, the band has established themselves as a music performing mainstay at UTP. They have proved themselves to be wise beyond their years, delivering a wide range of music playing ability across a vast array of genres.


Currently, Virtuoso UTP’s President, Ahmad Bukhari Mohd Shahrir says, the band has about 60 active members. Evidently, the band gives its members a platform and a stage to perform as musicians. Every semester, the band gets invited to a host of events inside and outside the university.


According to Bukhari, members need to be ready to perform when they are called upon. To bring focus to the effort, Virtuoso UTP regularly holds auditions to recruit new band members. In order to become a member, one has to be auditioned by a group of panellists.


Bukhari says, “We had a student who auditioned with us a couple of times. Although he still fell short of making the selection, the drummer came back the second time playing noticeably better than he previously did. Jostling for a spot to perform really lit the fire under him.”


Such is the standard demanded from members. To stretch the band’s ambition, Virtuoso UTP recently introduced its talent reinforcement project called TREP to organize its own music workshops. As such, Virtuoso UTP wants to invite professional musicians to coach its members. But the workshop will be opened to all, says Bukhari.


The band is currently stitching all these different characters and music genres together. "But at the end of the day, it’s really about being sound and disciplined musicians. We see the band as a platform and a gateway to become professional musicians. We play at many events every semester. This is an effervescent opportunity for every member to gain live performing experience," adds Bukhari.


Almost every week too, the band rounds up its best songs and winds its way through the campus’ streets busking. Apart from this, the band recently launched its official Youtube channel, Virtuoso UTP. Bukhari shares that the channel was launched to give its members an outlet to showcase their talent. Bukhari says, he wants the band to grow as they continue to fine-tune their song-writing and playing prowess at an organic pace.


On the channel, its members regularly share covers of their favourite songs. Realising that digital media is an important tool for the band to capture a larger audience, Bukhari says that the band has since assigned four members to manage its media team.


“Some of our members haven’t had the chance to perform at any event for myriad reasons. In addition to our Youtube channel, we also host our own battle of the band, called Euphonious, almost every year,” says Bukhari.


Also, Virtuoso UTP has another side gig. A few years after the band was established, it started Pemusik Traditional or PETRA. PETRA is a traditional music group that plays traditional Malay music such as keroncong, joget and zapin.


In recent years, PETRA had gone to Istanbul to perform alongside UTP’s dance group, UPAG. Next, PETRA will be playing at UTP’s flagship events, namely Tapestry of Colours and convocation.


Indeed, At UTP, we provide our students a vast array of opportunities for the pursuit of knowledge and interests in various fields. Beyond academic excellence, our students are geared to represent the university at key domestic and international events.