Monday, August 15, 2011

Singapore Lieder Festival - 19 to 21 Aug, 2 to 4 Seep 2011

The first ever Singapore Lieder Festival will be held at The Arts House from 19 to 21 August 2011, and then again from 2 to 4 September 2011. If the immoral cacophony of Salome is too much for you, perhaps you would like to check out these recitals instead? Here's a list of the performances:

August Performances:

19 Aug Fri | Die Schöne Müllerin

- Peter Ong, Tenor
- Shane Thio, Piano

20 Aug Sat | Schwanengesang
Part songs for male chorus

- Daniel Fong, Baritone
- Adrian Poon, Tenor
- Peter Ong, Tenor
- Wilson Goh, Tenor

21 Aug Sun | Winterreise

- Adrian Poon, Tenor
- Shane Thio, Piano

September performances:
2 Sept Fri | Liederkreis Op. 24
Kerner Lieder Op. 35

- Adrian Poon, Tenor
- Shane Thio, Piano

3 Sept Sat | Liederkreis Op. 39
Frauenliebe und Leben Op. 42
Myrthen Op. 25 (excerpts)

- Rebecca Li, Soprano
- Daniel Fong, Baritone
- Martin Ng, Baritone
- Shane Thio, Piano

4 Sept Sun | Sechs Gedichte von Reinick Op. 36
Dichterliebe Op. 48

- Peter Ong, Tenor
- William Lim, Baritone
- Shane Thio, Piano

The Mad Scene speaks to singers Adrian Poon, Peter Ong and Daniel Fong about the event:

Name: Adrian Poon

Fach: Tenor

Nights and pieces I will be performing:

I will be performing Winterreise on Sunday, 21 August 2011, as well as participating in the partsongs on Saturday, 20 August 2011.

What I love about this piece:

I fell in love with Winterreise the first time I heard it when I was 15. It was not something I understood then, but I was immediately taken by its beauty and construction; every single song in that cycle is a jewel of the highest quality. As I continued my music studies, my admiration for it grew. I did not study it in great depth, however, as I've also always had a fear of the work given its monumental scale, musically, mentally and emotionally. To be able to learn it now, and to present it is a huge privilege for me. It is a work that I will want to revisit for the rest of my life because it is so open-ended, and open to experiments and re-interpretation. In fact, Shane and I are already planning for our second performance of this work ;-)

Favourite recordings of this piece:

I think all recordings of this cycle have something to offer. It is impossible to sing it and not be moved by it. In particular, I have a great admiration for the Britten/Pears recording on Decca. Both are wonderful artists and Britten must be one of the last of that wonderful combination of composer/performer. Such wonderful piano playing on his part. Also, I have a lot of time for Ian Bostridge's recording with Leif Ove Andsnes. He is a tenor of the highest quality and intelligence in my opinion. I can't wait for a recording of Winterreise with him and Mitsuko Uchida!

Favourite classical artist:

Too many to name, so I will name those that are still alive!

I suppose the singers that are most constantly played on my ipod are Ian Bostridge and Felicity Lott, both I admire for their musicianship and intelligence. Am a great admirer of Graham Johnson, Malcolm Martineau and Julius Drake also. I've had the privilege of watching them live many times, and they never cease to amaze me!

In terms of choirs, I am particularly enamoured of the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus. I love their repertoire and their sound.

My favourite composers at the moment are James MacMillan and local genius Kelly Tang. I wish James MacMillan will write more songs for voice and piano in the future. Having the opportunity to perform his Scots Song in July was a real treat for me. I will also have lots of time for Dr Tang's vocal works. Tough as they are, one cannot help but be in awe of his ability to construct something beautiful. Write more songs please Dr Tang!

And of course all the wonderful people that I work with for our Sing Song Club performances. It's always amazing to find like-minded singers, and Shane is such a god-send! It's been a privilege to have him for an accompanist and a friend the past 12 years.

Favourite non-classical artist:

I grew up with lots of different type of music in my house, so the range of music that I like is quite broad. Karen Carpenter always for that special voice. Eurhythmics and Annie Lennox for their amazing work and her amazing song writing ability. Same with Kate Bush and Rufus Wainwright. And Queen!

Favourite CD/DVD of the moment:

Again too many to name!

Again, any song recitals with Ian Bostridge, James GilChrist, Felicity Lott go to the top of my list, but to be honest, I listen to lots of different things all the time. There is something to be learnt from everything one listens to. I spend way too much money of scores and CDs, but no regrets.

DVD of choice will the Paul Agnew's recording of Platee by Rameau. Probably my favourite opera.

Why should we catch the Singapore Lieder Festival (optional: instead of the SLO’s Salome which runs concurrently with the first festival?)

I think you should go for both! Salome is still on for two more days after the Schubert cycles are over, so no excuses!

In any case, we are both presenting something that Singapore has not seen before, so why miss either?

Name: Peter Ong

Fach: Tenor

Nights and pieces I will be performing:

Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin, August 19,
Schubert's male chorus arrangements, August 20
Schumann's Dichterliebe, September 4

What I love about these piece:

Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin: It's such a masochistic piece. And to dig in under those layers of masochism, that's very interesting to me. And the genius of Schubert. You can hear the 'babbling brook' throughout the whole cycle, rousing the miller to carry on, murmuring its disapproval, staying stubbornly silent, inviting the miller to his death, rocking the miller to sleep, and much more. Sheer genius. For me, the intertwining, the dialogue, of the 2 voices of the miller and the brook makes this piece very exciting. Is the brook really speaking to the miller? Or is the miller lad just off his rocker to begin with? He's not a typical male hero. He's completely emasculated, loving from afar, willing to suffer for love, and just in love with love. Until he is confronted by a virile masculine other, who triumphs, of course, in getting the miller maid. It's one of those things...

Schumann's Dichterliebe: I get very excited every time I get to sing this piece. Unlike Schubert's cycle, this one does not contain many strophic verses which makes it more contained, more to the point. So every single note and word counts in this piece. Schumann's economy of emotion: to say and mean so much in such a short span, is just incredible. Again, it's a delving into the world of unrequited love and masochism. Except with more bite. You can literally hear the call of the grave. And it's an internal struggle for this poet. So he's probably not as off his rocker as the miller lad - he doesn't hear voices talking to him. Schumann's piano gives so much colour to the angst of the poet as he croons, and sighs, and rants against unrequited love. It is a real piano virtuoso piece which Shane Thio does a marvellous job in accomplishing.

Favourite recordings of these pieces:

Schubert: Werner Güra and Jan Schultsz
Schumann: Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout

Favoourite classical artist (why?):

Too many to list... but at the moment I'm frequently listening to Rene Jacobs' recordings of Mozart's operas and he's just an amazing conductor. He brings so much vigour and passion, drama and comedy to Mozart, it's like sharing these familiar pieces anew.

Favourite non-classical artist (why?):

So many! Top hits on my iPod include Judy Garland, Bon Jovi, Amy Winehouse, Danny Brillant, Ute Lemper, Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, Sheila Majid, Pink Martini... but I'm in love with 2 Malaysian singers at the moment who are just phenomenal! Atilia for her jazzy rearrangements and that beautiful song, Angel ( The other one is Najwa, an upcoming R and B Malaysian singer who's got soul in droves. And such a velvet voice too (

Favourite CD/DVD of the moment:

Easy! Najwa's album, Innocent Soul. If you're soul and R and B fan of the old school, this is the gal! Go get a copy today!

Why should we catch the Singapore Lieder Festival (instead of the SLO’s Salome which runs concurrently with the first festival?)

Because you can still catch Salome on Monday and Tuesday!


Name : Daniel Fong

Pieces: 20th Aug, Sat. 8pm, Schubert’s Schwanengesang

What I love about these piece:

I love how each song contains a wealth of feelings and emotions. Though the themes of love, lost-love, yearning and unending isolation are common to most of the songs, I find each song encapsulates different aspects of sadness and happiness, which expresses the subtleness of human emotions.

I especially love Die Doppelganger, in which both the text and the music speak of a real and poignant sense of personal isolation, grieve and regret.

Favourite recordings of these piece:

I have a few recordings of Schwanengesang. The one I particularly adore is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s EMI recording with Gerald Moore. I find he has that uncanny ability to ‘speak’ the text, and communicate a message that is truly from his heart. I also love Ian Bostridge’s recording of all of Schubert’s Cycles.

Favourite classical artist:

Hmm. This question has always been difficult. I guess my preference changes over –time. For the moment, it would have to be Fischer-Dieskau. In the world of Lieder, he is almost untouchable. I find he sings not only with intelligence, but also from the heart, and his voice is almost technically perfect. I remember hearing his recording of Schumann’s Ich grolle Nicht, in which his High A at the end of the song was to me pure perfection!

Favourite non-classical artist:

I like Dolly Parton. I find some of her songs strangely moving, especially I Will Always Love You and Travelin’ Through. I also find her life quite inspiring. From a young girl with no money and hardly any formal education, she was courageous enough to enter the music industry on her own and made it. Now, she is not only just another country singer, but is regarded as a music legend.

Favourite CD/DVD of the moment:

I am currently listening to Gerald Finley’s Songs by Samuel Barber, with Julius Drake as the accompanist. I have always loved Barber’s Hermit Songs, and Finley sings it with such sensitivity. On top of that, the dark hue of his voice makes it magical.

Why should we catch the Singapore Lieder Festival (instead of the SLO’s Salome which runs concurrently with the first festival?)

I personally think it is an exciting project as the entire Schubert and Schumann cycles is being performed back to back. It will provide an excellent opportunity for people to experience the full spectrum of both composers’ abilities, and a deeper understanding of their lives through their works. For example, Schubert wrote Schwanengesang at the very end of his life. I believe it is no coincidence that many of the songs express a deep grief and melancholy. Indeed, Schubert’s emotional and physical sufferings were poured into his music. Songs are in themselves such intimate and delicate pieces, and have the direct ability to touch the listener. I am sure people who come for the festival, will not only listen to beautiful songs, but will be personally affected by the wide range of emotions that are expressed through the music just as the composers intended.


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