Friday, April 8, 2011

A Bloggers' Guide: Busting Classical Music Myths

German chemicals company LANXESS  recently held a talk and music appreciation session with special guests John Sharpley and Darrell Ang. Our contributor Hawk Liu was there to cover the event:

Venue: The Pigeonhole, 52 and 53 Duxton Road
Tuesday, 5th April 2011
Written by Hawk Liu

I entered the cosy 2-unit cafe at Duxton Road and was greeted by smiling people from the PR team from Phish Communications, who made sure I was comfortable for the next 20 minutes - alright it was longer than that - they made sure I was never lonely for more than a few moments. There were sofas and comfortable places to put your lazy bodies down, order a drink from the counter, and just chat. Nice setting for a Q & A session. I caught up with a few friends, including two of the guest speakers - John Sharpley and Darrell Ang.
While more guests were arriving, we helped ourselves to a generous layout of snacks. An introductory video played on a projection screen, showing some clips from an Italian training trip for musicians, organised by LANXESS.

In brief, LANXESS is a Germany-based chemicals company that has chosen to support the arts by running a mentorship and cultural exchange programme for musicians of SNYO (Singapore National Youth Orchestra).

We were each given a goodies bag from LANXESS containing a thumb drive (with information - documents, vidoes, photographs - about SNYO and their collaboration with LANXESS), and an invitation to the next concert of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (details below). This would be their second concert and Lara St John would be playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the orchestra!

The people from LANXESS came to chat with me (and I must add that they were so very welcoming and warm) and that gave me a chance to find out what their company was all about and what role they played in the event. The latest project was taking a team of 3 young flautists to Italy (13 to 18 March 2011) to learn from the master, Andrea Griminelli . The 3 youths (Jasper Goh, Rachel Ho and Tu Siling) said they are now inspired to go all the way to making music their career.

While everyone made themselves comfortable on lazy sofas, Kaye Lim (who chaired the whole meeting) from LANXESS introduced the special guests - Olive Kan (representing the Singapore National Youth Orchestra), Darrell Ang (international conductor), and John Sharpley (composer and lecturer).
Darrell expressed his wish for a general appreciation for classical music in the population, John gave a very good background on Debussy's approach to music which involved integration of elements from various genres and cultures of his time, Olive talked about her own music journey. She also gave us more insight into the LANXESS-SNYO collaboration.

The panel gave their wisdom and knowledge on a number of issues - could musicians make their dreams come true even if they were financially disadvantaged, how the appearance of new media infrastructure like Youtube promote easier access to classical music, how the performance scene today is more vibrant compared to the rare visits to Singapore by world class international musicians 20 years ago, how nurturing creativity in music education can enhance appreciation, and where could bloggers start their adventure in seeking out classical music for enjoyment.

In the middle of all that, John conducted a game of musical trivia and that drew a lot of laughter and giggles. And lastly, what is an event on music with no music? And so the 3 young flautists who recently returned from their Italian training trip each gave a solo rendition on their instruments.

I am glad that LANXESS is doing this for classical music. In fact, I am glad anyone is doing something for classical music - there is so much wealth of music to be discovered by our youths! This is an evening well spent! So bloggers - let's look forward to the next session!

Do read about LANXESS on this link, and the SNYO on

LANXESS SNYO CLASSIC 2011 “A Musical Chemistry”
Thursday, 21 April 2011
The Esplanade Concert Hall
Tickets are priced at $9 (excluding booking fee)
Available at all SISTIC outlets

Gosh! I feel so inspired as I'm typing this in between my (self-funded) music conservatory courses. Isn't wonderful that our young budding musicians get these wonderful breaks? I wonder what is being planned to help slightly more mature artists who have contributed many more years to the arts scene in Singapore, or to independently run e-zines that help promote these fantastic concerts?

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