Sunday, August 15, 2010

Interview with Brendan-Keefe Au

Brendan-Keefe Au, with colleagues Lim Yanting and Shane Thio

Tenor Brendan-Keefe Au will be teaming up with soprano Lim Yanting and pianist Shane Thio this coming Tuesday 17 August for a recital L'Heure Exquise. The Mad Scene discusses with him on what we can look forward to at this free event:


The Mad Scene: Thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us what can we look forward to at your recital L'Heure Exquise?

Brendan: Likewise Steven, thank you for hosting us on this interview. In this recital, Yanting and I will be focusing on the beauty of the European art song. Our audience will be able to look forward to a diverse repertoire spanning from the classical period through to the contemporary era. There will be sets in Italian, German, French and English. Also, if members of the audience listen carefully enough, they might be able to pick out some clandestine naughtiness in two or three pieces (over which texts Yanting and I have shared many a good wink and laugh!).

The Mad Scene: What was your approach when coming up with this recital program?

Brendan: Our teacher (Jeong Ae Ree) is fond of saying that “whole worlds” can be found in art songs, if one only opens up him/herself to the music; and I find this very true, especially in the lieder of Hugo Wolf - some of which we will be performing. We did not centre our program round a particular theme or song-cycle. Instead, we created a list of pieces which we felt reflected our youthfulness and personalities well, and refined this into a collection of vignettes, if you will, that show something of our off-stage, off-voice personalities. At least, this is what I hope, as perhaps I am not as interesting a person as I think I am after all.

The wonderful thing about performing a “rojak” repertoire is that there will be something for everyone to enjoy, even if one inclines toward only one particular language or style. I hope that this is something that the audience will find exciting.

The Mad Scene: Describe your voices for those of us who have not heard you.

Brendan: The instrument is still young and continually changing, but for now it is fundamentally a light, comparatively high tenor. But who knows what vocal changes the future may bring. Yanting is similarly, a light and high soprano, with a tone that charms, teases and bubbles like a good champagne.

The Mad Scene: Besides your own concert, what other upcoming performances are you looking forward to attending?

Brendan: I am very excited about the flurry of activity going on in recital halls in this half of the year. I attended some of my friends’ recitals recently - Baritone Daniel Fong, Tenors David Charles Tay and Jonathan Charles Tay- and was greatly moved and inspired by their performances. I am looking forward to upcoming performances by Melvin Tan, my teacher Jeong Ae Ree with the Take 5 Quintet and many others. My mother studied ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance and we have tickets booked for Giselle, which I watched many times as a child but have since completely forgotten, and I am looking forward to that too.

The Mad Scene: What is your favourite mad scene, and why?

Brendan: The end of Act 2 in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in which Count Almaviva sings his big aria Cessa di piu resistere. I think this scene is absolutely mad, not because the character goes crazy, but because of the sheer virtuosity of the music. I think tenors have to be mad to attempt it on stage. Well, I’ll get there one day.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why should we all come attend L’Heure Exquise on 17 August 2010?

Brendan: Gorgeous music, gorgeous soprano, and most gorgeous of all, absolutely free entry! Thanks to our sponsor Exxonmobil and support from the Arts Fund.


Find out more about L’Heure Exquise here.

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