Saturday, July 30, 2011

Upcoming Performances from Music Space 11

If you are planning your shcedule for the coming weeks, perhaps you many like to include one or two events organised by new group Music Space ( Here are some events that are coming up, including a classical vocal recital:


Adrian Poon

How often do you hear a trumpet, a tenor and a recorder in a single recital? Come and experience the triple-bill of Romantic pieces presented by Edric Liew, Adrian Poon and Jun Zubillaga-Pow. The young musicians will revive luscious music from the 19th- and 20th-centuries by famous and less-known composers.

Where: Chamber at The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane MRT: City Hall/Raffles Place When: August 7, 7pm Admission: $28 Tel: 6332-6919 Info:


Ding Yi Music presents a chamber concert of fusion plucked strings music. Alongside popular traditional pieces, the quintet playing the pipa, zhongruan, yangqin and sanxian has specially commissioned new pieces from eminent Singaporean composers, Hoh Chung Shih, Tan Tuan Hao and Alicia de Silva.

Where: The Substation MRT: City Hall When: August 13, 7.30pm Admission: $18 Tel: 6337-7535 Info:

Artsylum String Quartet

Two young string quartets - Artsylum and Oxley - join forces to perform an entire programme of contemporary music created by Singaporeans. Featured composers include Lee Yuk Chuan, Leong Yoon Pin, Jeremiah Li, Phoon Yew Tien, Kelly Tang and Jun Zubillaga-Pow.

Where: Esplanade Recital Studio MRT: Esplanade/City Hall When: September 2, 8pm Admission: $19 Tel: 6337-6128 Info:

Jun Zubillaga-Pow

Stay tune for some classical Dutch-Malay fusion as recorder player Jun Zubillaga-Pow brings you back on a journey of Baroque-folk and recreates the ambience of seventeenth-century Singapura.

Where: The Substation MRT: City Hall When: September 10, 7.30pm Admission: $18 Tel: 6337-7535 Info:


A young woman discovers a seed that can make women act like men and men act like women. She decides to take one, then slips one to her maid and another to her fiancé. The fun begins. This silent film from 1914 is accompanied by new electronic music composed by Singaporean composer Chong Li-Chuan.

Where: Screening Room at The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane MRT: City Hall/Raffles Place When: August 8 and 12, 7pm Admission: $10 Tel: 6332-6919 Info: Rating to be advised:


Local reggae band Bushmen reinvents themselves after 15 years in popular showbiz. Come and groove to their original singles of Reggae pop music sung solely in English and Malay.

Where: The Substation MRT: City Hall When: October 15, 7.30pm Admission: $18 Tel: 6337-7535 Info:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interview with Selena Tan

The Mad Scene is proud to announce our first ever interview with theatre and TV veteran Selena Tan (woo hoo)! Its been many years since you readers reflected that you would like more musical theatre featured here (in addition to opera and classical vocal of course), with this step I hope it'll be a worthwhile effort to branch out and cover other aspects of our performance arts scene. Anyway, Selena Tan is such a known personality that this article probably needs no introduction. Just check out the promos of Into the Woods later on, and do consider attend k?

The Mad Scene: You are producing this run of performances as well as playing the role of the Baker's Wife. How do you cope with such multiple roles?

Selena Tan: I surround myself with very talented and generous people. It really helps to have amazing teammates like Shireen as well as a great Production Manager, Denise, and they really keep the show running. Could never do any of it on my own!

The Mad Scene: You are working with two foreign imports alongside your usual "kakis". What has influenced your choosing of the two performers? Have they brought something new in their participation?

Selena Tan: Ria Jones from the West End is an incredible talent. She is wonderful technically, and she is also able to bring to the role of the Witch a tremendous heart and her acting is sincere and her singing is truly faultless. I first met her when she came to Singapore to perform in A Twist of Fate in 1997. We had a wonderful time working together then and are having a fabulous time now too! Sheila Francisco, I met when she came to do one of the runs of Chang and Eng in 1999. I have always remembered her amazing voice and wonderful presence on stage. She has also since been performing in Singapore in a re-run of A Twist of Fate as well as The Full Monty amongst other shows. She is a lovely addition to our cast, a stunning voice and very soulful performer. Both are certainly indispensable to this production of Into the Woods.

The Mad Scene: Which part of the musical would you say is your favourite part?

Selena Tan: I love them all. My secret plan is to keep on doing the show again and again so I get to play every single part … hmmm … someday, I’ll even play the Baker! Haha. Seriously though, I love every single character from the Step-Sister to Rapunzel to Witch. The work is so intricate and every character says so much (even those with few lines) and each of the main characters have such beautiful songs. But if I were forced to pick a favourite favourite, it would be the Baker’s Wife (her current role in this production).

The Mad Scene: Do share what has influenced your casting of some of the local performers for their roles?

Selena Tan: Glen (Goei) the director did the casting but we did have many discussions. I feel that Adrian (Pang) is perfectly cast as the Baker. He has heart and humour and a lovely singing voice to boot. Also, I think where Adrian and I are now in our lives, 17 years on from the 1st production of Into the Woods that we did, older and having been round the block a bit, we are relishing the Baker and the Baker’s wife so much! Emma (Yong) is the quintessential Cinderella and it’s a joy having Robin (Goh) and RJ (Rosales) together again as Princely brothers!

The Mad Scene: There are so many wonderful characters portrayed in the musical. If voice and gender are not an issue, what other role would you most like to play (besides your own of course).

Selena Tan: Baker. I love the issues he goes through about parenthood. What’s right? What’s good?

The Mad Scene: On a more serious note, Emma Yong has recently told the media of her recovery from stage four cancer. We audiences are certainly relieved to have her back onstage safe and sound. How does it feel to be working with her again?

Selena Tan: It is always a joy to work with someone as talented as Emma. It feels just like old times. She is as energetic and enthusiastic … actually I think she’s even more energetic and enthusiastic. We have great fun and she’s an actress so cares so much about the work, she’s always challenging you and making sure that we strive towards perfection. That’s why she is an invaluable asset to Singapore Theatre.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, you described this production as one that "we would be proud to invite Mr Stephen Sondheim himself to". Shall the audience look out for any twist or unusually elements in this production?

Selena Tan: We have remained true to Sondheim’s masterpiece … would not have it any other way. Any cuts made were purely cosmetic and merely to keep things moving along so that audiences won’t be kept beyond 2 and a half hours. But I believe there’s so much meat and so much joy to be gained from this musical that everyone will be swept along our journey Into the Woods.


Upcoming Concerts

The weekend preceeding  National Day is choke-full of recitals it seems. Perhaps our singers feel the need to sing in praise of the nation, or they are simply optimistic that folks will use of the long-weekend to attend their concerts? 

Starting on Friday 5 August, the teachers of SOTA will present Liebeslieder, at the school's concert hall. On the bill are Reuben Lai, Phua Eekia, Ralph McDonald and Jeong Ae Ree. Check out the following FB page for more info and free tickets.

That weekend will be a busy one for Jeong Ae Ree, as her company New Opera Singapore will also be presenting a staged recital titled Opera Comique (in the Office) on 6 August, Saturday, at the Arts House. Seems like quite a welcome departure from the usual recital format so do check it out.

The company will be facing some competition though, as the Victoria Chorale will be staging their annual performance In Song 2011 at the exact same time. Their event will be held at the Esplanade Recital Studio and tickets can be purchased at the door. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SLO Children's Choir "Encore" - 15 July 2011

SLO Children’s Choir
With members of the SLO Youth Choir
Conductor: Khor Ai Ming
Assistant Conductor: Cherylene Liew
Pianists: Beatrice Lin, Bertrand Lee

Its perhaps a little ironic to see an ad for August’s Salome on the backcover of the program for this children’s choir concert, but then I suppose it’s a good way to teach young people in these days of equal opportunity that girls can be perverts too!

Anyway, it was heartening to see these kids take on such a long and varied program. True to being members of an opera company, the kids sang and danced onstage for close to 2 hours, delivering almost entirely from memory favourites and lesser-knowns from classic musicals, Hokkien, America and British folksongs, contemporary pieces in French and English and of course, operatic excerpts. (My companion remarked that some of the performers are more teenagers than children, of which I replied that since we as a nation are not producing enough kids to replace the older choir members, the old children will just have to chip in a little longer, just like how we will be working till 65).

Of special interest are four pieces newly commissioned for this concert in celebration of the Choir’s 5th anniversary. Emily Koh’s A Painted Bus starts off sounding like the folksong The Water is Wide, but soon develops into her own optimistic style with overlapping melodic lines suffused with a modern twist. Chen Zhang Yi’s contemplative Island is a melodic piece nonetheless uses adventurous harmonies to tug the heartstrings. Benjamin Lim Yi’s If You Were Coming is a heartfelt love ballad which will probably engage listeners more with repeated listening. Liong Kit Yeng’s After the Rain is a happy xinyao tune that helped the children close the show on a happy note. Their colourful clothes and umbrella-waving brightened up the  stage. Congratulations to the four composers for their good work, and to the kids for making these piecescome to life. Good job!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pluck!'s "Musical Arson" on Time Out

Check out my article on UK-based comedy string trio Pluck! in this month's issue of Time Out! Their hilarious show Musical Arson runs at the DBS Arts Centre (the one at Riverview) till this coming Sunday so do check them out if you are interested.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rant Against the Machine

Yes I have left Singapore for some time, two years in fact, but is it just me or has inflation gone through the roof lately? I mean, forget the oft-reported ridiculous costs of housing these days, but just how did a cup of ice teh-O come to cost $1.80 at foodcourts? And if you ever need to photocopy stuff at the library, know first that you first need to buy a cashcard for $10, which comes with a stored value of... FIVE DOLLARS!!! How did the people who decided on this ever think its acceptable to make the public pay double for a piece of plastic that's supposed to hold the cash in? Its daylight robbery!!!

And so today marked my return, after a hiatus of two years, to the 9 to 6 work crowd (abeit on a short-term basis). Imagine my surprise at the MRT platform to find a mob of people trying to swarm inside an already packed train. It was like Chinatown during CNY except this was just a regular Monday morning! And after jostling around for 10 minutes in the sweltering heat, I finally managed to squeeze into the fourth train that arrived. It then took another 10 minutes just to travel ONE STOP from Ang Mo Kio to Bishan, crawling and stopping intermittently.

What is going on here? I mean, what's the point of having the economy grow 14% when cost of living is rising at an equally manic speed and quality of life is actually going downhill? I can't believe that this is the work of the government that I had supported and voted for all these years (not the recent one though, as I was abroad)! Let's hope it won't be another 5 years before we repent from our collective decisions again.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cranky Old Granny Speaks Out

I chanced upon this video interview of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, where she shares a few simple truths that rather resonate with me, such as how most opinions today are worthless, how to build your own style (just pick a few pieces of clothing and keep wearing it), what is the ultimate status symbol and most of all, why the arts are so important in our lives today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Little Singers of Monaco (8 July)

The Little Singers of Monaco return tomorrow (8 July) for another concert, this time to lend the NAFA Student Relief Fund a helping hand. Check out details below:


The Return of the Little Singers of Monaco (摩纳哥王室少年合唱团)

Under the royal patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

Friday, 8 July 2011, 8pm

SCO Concert Hall

Under the royal patronage of H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Little Singers of Monaco (LSM) will make a triumphant return to Singapore on Friday 8 July at the SCO Concert Hall. Since their successful debut in Singapore two years ago, the 31-strong European royal choir, under the musical direction of Pierre Debat, the Chapel Master of the Palace of the Prince of Monaco, returns to treat choral music lovers with a programme that reflects their strong musical tradition. Choral music fans will love the showcase of works by Bach, Mendelssohn, and Charpentier, and be intrigued by their rendition of Gregorian chants, folk songs and more.

Singapore is the first stop for the choir’s Asian tour and it is in the name of charity that the popular choir will be performing this summer. The local concert is organised by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) where nett proceeds from the performance will go towards the NAFA Student Relief Fund. The fund aids NAFA students who encounter sudden financial difficulty in their school term, to pay for tuition fees, text books and art materials. After Singapore, the little singing ambassadors of Monaco will perform in East Timor and China to benefit various local charity programmes.

The group of 9 to 37-year-olds tour extensively outside Monaco with their message of peace, winning critical acclaim and fans wherever they perform. Residing in the Cathedral of Monaco, the 37-year-old LSM is internationally renowned for their musical sensitivity and rich traditions of European royal choirs. 11 choir members will be performing in Singapore for the first time, among them the two youngest members. In addition to the diverse age range, diverse nationalities form the choir, including a Monaco Permanent Resident who came from Russia, reflecting the small country’s residency made up of over 100 nationalities.

Tickets are available from SISTIC at S$45, $35, $25 and student concession is at S$15. Group bookings of 20 tickets or more enjoy 15% discount off ticket prices. OCBC Credit & Debit Cardmembers, CSC Members, Friends of SSO, PAssion Card Holders and MadAboutArts Card Holders enjoy 10% discount off ticket prices. All discount offers exclude SISTIC booking fee and SISTIC terms and conditions apply.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

LANXESS SNYO Classic's A Musical Chemistry in the Woods

Which one of you here doesn't like freebies? Thank LANXESS then for sponsoring this FREE SNYO concert at the Botanic Gardens this coming Sunday. Here's more information:


A Musical Chemistry in the Woods

Shaw Symphony Stage
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Sunday, 10 July

The LANXESS SNYO CLASSIC invites the public to an evening of classical music at the Shaw Symphony Stage, Singapore Botanic Gardens on Sunday, 10 July. Featuring the talents of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO), A Musical Chemistry in the Woods brings the music performed at the LANXESS SNYO CLASSIC concert in April to the lush backdrop of Singapore’s iconic garden.

Jason Lai, whose recent post includes Principal Conductor of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Orchestra, will conduct the outdoor performance. He has made appearances with the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain among many others. A prizewinner at the 2005 Leeds Conducting Competition, Jason also conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Oxford University Orchestra.

“We are very pleased with the response that we received for the concert we held at the Esplanade Concert Hall earlier in April, and we are delighted to share A Musical Chemistry with everyone, this time in a more intimate setting,” says Kaye Lim, President of Corporate Communications, LANXESS.


More details including concert program available here.