Singapore National Youth Orchestra – A Musical Chemistry

We’ve missed the previous media invite on the LANXESS SYNO Classic event due to our Spanish commitment.  And they are kind enough to invite us for the main event that took place yesterday at Esplanade, an event coincided with the JP Morgen Corporate Run that caused half of a highway in town to be sealed off.  We were forewarned about the anticipated traffic condition so as the clock struck EOD (end of date) at work, Cynthia and I made haste to our Singapore’s very own theater by the bay.  I love the architectural design of Esplanade.  It cost – if I remember correctly – 650 million dollars to build.  I thought that was a lot of money.  Years later, the integrated resort next door cost billions to build.  That is Marina Bay Sands.

“A Musical Chemistry” is mainly performed by Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO).  The program involves a short piece by Richard Wagner, which to be frank, I have not heard of before last evening.  A piece by Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 25 – which I love to death.  I can easily hum the notes from beginning to end.  We have Lara St. John as the guest lead violinist.  Deep inside, I was hoping that someone from within SNYO would take the lead position.  That would truly speak for the quality of the orchestra.  But I can also understand that as a public event, having an international master such as Lara St. John would help to attract the crowd.  I am not too familiar with the violinist scene.  The only violinist I deeply respect is Hilary Hahn.  Lara St. John’s approach to Tchaikovsky’s concerto is unique, in a sense that she devours the music supplied by the orchestra and pours her personality into the music.  Her phasing and timing is significantly different from the traditional recordings that I am familiar with.  In a way, I did struggle a bit to see how this free spirit performance gelled with the structure provided by the orchestra.  One audience during intermission commented that she felt exhausted – in a good way I suppose – watching Lara St. John performed on stage.  In the contrary, I was totally absorbed into Lara’s own world and was yarning for more.  During the meet the artist session, I asked if it was her first visit to Singapore and she replied that this trip is her second.  Her first visit was to the Zoo.  And I said to her, you should come back to Singapore one day and perform for us.

Then there was the world premiere of a piece written by Darrell Ang, the musical director of SNYO.  It is called “Fanfare for a Frazzled Earth”.  Something to do with caring for environment.  It sounds modern (it has to be) and contemporary with lots of complex dialogs between the instruments.  I am a more classical kind of person and have always been struggling with understanding a modern piece of musc.  This piece sounds lively, almost like a celebration.  It is shorter than we have anticipated.  That left me wonder how beautiful it would have been if he could expand the piece into a full fledge symphony.  Last item of the program is Symphony in D minor by Cesar Franck.  A Dutch composer I have not heard of.  I may explore on his other works later.

Last evening was an emotional evening.  Because I was once played in Hong Kong Youth Orchestra.  I would say, the standard of SNYO is really high.  When I heard and saw the entire orchestra playing and moving in unison, that brought back fond memories.  During the intermission, Cynthia commented that such feeling must be exhilarating.  And I replied that in real life, the orchestra spends much time repeating short segments of the music, usually stripping down the individual or a subset of instruments.  To that extend, once an orchestra pastes all the parts together and plays, that feeling is exhilarating.  However, that short moment of spiritual joy only happens through months of practice, a few bars at a time.  That makes such moment more precious I suppose.

Classical Concert in a Church at Paris

In order to adjust back to Paris time, I woke up at nine in the morning.  Kind of the first time in Paris do I wake up so early.  I even had my breakfast.

Called up a few friends in Paris but they were either not in or fast asleep.  I was fed up and went out alone.  As always, Virgin Megastore . Never know that they only open at twelve on Sundays.  Nothing really exciting (except one record Savage Garden) therefore I proceed to WH Smiths.  And they only open at one-thirty.

Didn’t buy another album, nor any book.

Returned to the hotel finding that Grace has left two messages for me.  An invitation to a classical music in one of the churches in Paris.

The music was good.  Have my favourite – “The Four Seasons”.  Not to forget that I have watched “Romeo and Juliet” again.

We all had French dinner together.