Symphony orchestras are a source of great pride; here in KL, we have the MPO, the National Symphony Orchestra (Astaka, Taman Tasik Titiwangsa on Oct 3), and then, of course, there’s the RTM Big Band Orchestra. Nearly six decades ago, the Orkes Radio Malaya – as it was then known – was led by the late legend Alfonso Soliano; it was the first orchestra of the country and was the biggest, most-watched premier music acts of the nation. More dance orchestra than symphony orchestra, they produced, performed and promoted contemporary local music – Malaysian jazz especially – for broadcasting and entertainment through RTM. The big band, Western-orchestral sound, which emerged as a popular musical accessory in ’70s and ’80s albums, was widely credited to the orchestra’s influence. Today, the orchestra is led by Datuk Mokhzani Ismail.