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George Town breaks new ground for Asian festivals

Leading art event brings international visitors, world class performances to Malaysian heritage city

The kinetic sculptures of "Chorus" by British composer Ray Lee occupied the area in front of Dewan Sri Penang, one of George Town Festival's main venues. (Photo by Kit yeng Chan)

PENANG, Malaysia -- The series of giant metallic tripods placed in front of the Dewan Sri Pinang event hall in George Town, the capital of the northwest Malaysian island of Penang, looks like a single line of eerie cranes in the soft evening light. Atop the structures are rotating arms equipped with loudspeakers and a set of lights at each end.

Just before sun set, the arms start spinning above the heads of many curious spectators, emitting a hypnotic siren call of precisely tuned musical pitches, while drawing mesmerizing red circles in the air. This is not science fiction, but "Chorus," an art installation mixing kinetic sculptures with a choir of sound machines. Created by award-winning British composer Ray Lee, it arrived in Penang as part of the eighth George Town Festival, one of Malaysia's -- and Asia's -- most acclaimed international arts festivals.

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