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Datin Saidah Rastam

Former litigation lawyer, music producer, composer and lecturer

Datin Saidah Rastam was trained as a barrister (Gray’s Inn) and has worked as a litigation lawyer, music producer, composer and lecturer. Works include M! The Opera (KL), combining Malay traditional instruments and western orchestra, Spirits (St Petersburg) featuring Peking and Cantonese opera singers and Pulau Antara (Tokyo). She has been music director for numerous shows including the launch of the Petronas Twin Towers and Cabaret at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre.


Malam Terang Bulan, her show on the origins of Malaysia’s national anthem, was staged at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in 2014 and again in 2015. Under a Senior Fellowship from Khazanah Nasional Berhad, her book on Malaya’s music, Rosalie and Other Love Songs, was published in two editions in 2014 and 2017. She is project director of Melaka In Fact, an initiative which researches the early history and cultural influences of this region.

MusEd'21 Keynote Abstract

No Messiaen Please, We're Malaysian: In Search of Malaysian Music

Currently a study is being carried out on behalf of a government ministry to find out “What music best represents Malaysia’s music identity”? This extremely wide question is not new: over the years it has taxed, among others, politicians and policy-makers, advertising and arts funding agencies. Saidah Rastam explores this question in the context of Malaysia’s history, nationalism, pluralism and lack of resources, and considers future musical creativity in Malaysia.

Keynote Speech 2

Saturday, 21 August 2021

9.00 to 10.00 am (MYT)