Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Katherine Jenkins on Time Out Singapore

There are some jobs that you do for the pleasure that it brings for a job well done, and there are jobs that you take on in order to pay the bills, hence this month's Time Out Classical feature on Katherine Jenkins. I see it as a way of stratching my capabilities by stepping out of my comfort zone. Check it out here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vodka Kimchi

One can always count on Sumi Jo for a fun interview and she delivers even in this one minute plus clip, conducted in English, Korean and Italian, where she gushes about how Dimitri Hvorostovsky would be the perfect colleague except for one tiny thing:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Berlin Philharmonic Live Broadcast in Taipei

This is something that I attended recently and am posting about it here in hopes that it'll inspire the powers-that-be back home to do something similar.

Because I had such a thrill on 18 November watching a free live relay of the Berlin Philharmonic's performance of Mahler's 9th at the National Concert Hall at the Taipei Arena (an indoor stadium for sports and rock concert extravaganzas). The concert was also relayed to stadiums in Xinzhu, Taichung and Hualian, as well as on the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall.

Free tickets were given out at the National Concert Hall's MRT station at 9am on 11 November, a week before. Queues started building up from 8am. Here are pics of the crowd queuing up for Berlin Phil simulcast tickets:

The Taipei Arena was so crowded on that day that traffic police had to be called in to usher passersby from the surrounding roads (it was the same location where I had triumphed in Aida only a few weeks ago). Two hosts entertained the live crowd of almost 10,000 audiences as well as viewers watching online. This concert is the first time an overseas Berlin Phil concert was broadcasted on their website. Needless to say, government officials didn't waste this opportunity to showcase their wares and web listeners were shown trailers about Taiwanese tourism and business opportunities.

Watching the concert on a giant LCD screen with so many people, it feels as though I'm watching a movie in a cinema except that its actually a live classical event that only a supposedly niche audience cares about. Also watching Sir Rattle and a bunch of Ang Mohs walk onstage, It seemed eerily familiar to viewing concert DVDs at home, where the film typically starts by showing footage of the concert hall or opera house, except that the concert hall being shown at the moment isn't in some exotic locale like Berlin, Lucerne or New York, but in the very heart of Taipei just a few MRT stations away from where we are (I even saw a classmate sitting on the front row with his mom!)

After the concert, the roads from the National Concert Hall to Taipei Arena were cleared to drive Sir Rattle and company to the Arena ASAP. They were met with cheers and an ovation worthy of rock stars. Crowds from the other three cities also joined in the cheering through web relays. The orchestra and Sir Rattle were so touched that they promised to come back again in the near future.

Afterwards, vendors set up makeshift, pasar malam-like stalls outside the stadium selling Taiwanese editions of Berlin Phil DVDs.

So yeah, it was a triumph all round;  the Berlin Phil had yet another successful night performing a single concert to almost 20,000 live audiences, we audiences got to watch the whole thing for free (except for those who actually attended the live event), DVD sellers got a good bonus and advertisers got their money's worth. The free programmes given out even had a log-in password for us to try out the digital concert hall ourselves! Imagine all this fuss about classical music! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Melvin Tan's Winter Words

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Tenor Melvin Tan puts his BMus Hons (RAM) MA Hons (Edin.) LRAM to good use once again in his upcoming recital Winter Words on 18 December 2011. Here's a description of what the show is about:


WINTER SONGS: An Art Song Tribute to 3 Great English Tenors

Local Operatic and classical Tenor, Melvin Tan returns to the Esplanade Recital studio on 18th December 2011 at 5:30pm with a sublime and rarely heard program of winter-themed song with a sprinkling of popular Chistmas songs and carols. Fresh from his success in 2011, in all 3 major productions of the Singapore Lyric Opera, ‘Winter Songs’ is a more intimate portrait of Melvin as an artist. With 2 Singapore-premiere song cycles, one performed with a 10–piece professional string ensemble, ‘Winter Songs’ promises to be a reflective yet invigorating paean to Winter and Christmas.

Come celebrate a Classical Christmas.

“Seldom has a more intelligent and coherent art song programme been drawn, and delivered with zest and panache… his expansive yet supple voice filled the hall, ringing with a bright bell-like lustre” –Chang Tou Liang, Straits Times, August 2010

“Tan was the star of the evening…a naturally gifted tenor with a gloriously rich and musical voice that instantly captivated and enthralled” – Nicole Lisle, Oxford Times, UK, July 2008.

Britten Winter Words Op.52
Finzi Dies Natalis (for Tenor and String Ensemble)
Songs by Hoiby, Lauridsen, Howells, and other popular seasonal encores.

Melvin Tan Tenor
Shane Thio Piano
Beatrice Lin Piano
With String Ensemble

Winter Songs is a heartfelt tribute to 3 renowned English tenors: Philip Langridge, Robert Tear and Antony Rolfe Johnson who have sadly passed away in the last year, all of whom had contributed significantly (whether directly through teaching and mentoring or by inspiration) to Melvin’s singing and career.

Britten’s nostalgic song-cycle about experience, Winter Words, set to poems by Thomas Hardy was a hallmark song cycle for all 3 tenors. A handpicked selection of seasonal songs and carols, some from Britten’s Folksong arrangements along with other winter-themed art songs conjure up the magic of a white Christmas.

Finzi’s cantata Dies Natalis, on the wonder of the birth of the Christ child, completes the programme along with some seasonal popular encores to encompass the spirit of winter and the season.


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Check out the Events Page for more information. Also do look out for a feature of Melvin in December's issue of Time Out Singapore magazine.

P.S. guess who's slated to sing Don Ottavio in SLO's February Don Giovanni?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Drumming to the Classics

Only the Japanese could think of something like this: a Taiku drumming game set to music of a heavily-accented Beethoven's 9th. I think this is the right way to get my teenage cousin who spends all his time on such music games to take an interest in classical music. Let's hope it'll arrive at a Singaporean arcade soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Cabaret Nights" in Review

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10 November - 9 December
30 min shows at 7.30pm and 9.30pm
TFS Bistrot, 544 Serangoon Road, SG 218166
Cast: Xavier le Henaff, Nathalie Ribette, Tini
presented by SING'THEATRE Ltd
Directed by George Chan

A Review by Hawk Liu

Not knowing what to expect, I walked down Serangoon Road to look for TFS Bistrot and found a delightful looking place right at a corner of a side street. Probably a former local coffee shop converted into a French looking joint, it was painted sunny yellow and blue with dining tables draped with 'French' looking table cloth, and not to mention the matted chairs too. Sitting down, I felt at home immediately in my surroundings. The staff was friendly and the owner (originally from Bretagne, France), Monsieur Xavier le Henaff (hmm... a charming man...), greeted us and we had a nice little chat before we proceeded to make our orders for dinner.

Looking around me, I was sure some of the diners didn't know what was going to descend upon them. Promptly at 7.30pm, a gleeful Xavier and the lovely Natalie and Tini welcomed the diners and very soon broke into song - the Cabaret had started. Choosing to don simple blacks for the ladies and the typical chef attire for Xavier, the cast treated us to a mini musical of songs in French and English, loosely wound around a story of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Bistrot, and it was indeed the 10th year of the Bistrot. Alright, I won't tell more - you just have to come to the joint yourself and find out what they are up to! I enjoyed the myself with the singers coming right next to the diners' tables during their act - the stage was the entire Bistrot with some of the serving staff gamely dancing along at times.

The singers weren't the only stars. The food was delicious. I had French (what else!) onion soup, garlic bread (oh garlic bread can be so yummy) and marinated chicken which I took the longest time at to savour every bit. Hungry yet? Catch some yummy French food and musical fun at 544 Serangoon. To quote my friend sitting with me that night, "It was a little French culture in little India."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jeong Ae-Ree's "On Wings of Song"

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the ever lovely Jeong Ae-Ree stages another recital under the banner of her new company New Opera Singapore, entitled On Wings of Song. She will be presenting the art songs of F. Mendelssohn, F. Schubert, R. Strauss, S. Rachmaninov, A. Previn, Tsao Chieh, Zechariah Goh, F. Poulenc, W. Walton. Check out the poster above or their Facebook Event for more information, or just email newoperasingapore@gmail.com for tickets.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rumbling Canaries

This stupendous performance of Don Giovanni's finale by Bryn Terfel, Rene Pape and Thomas Quasthoff showcases the baritone voice in its fullest glory:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cabaret Nights by Sing'theatre

Sounds like a really good deal this is... For the price of $29.90 you get a full course meal plus a professional cabaret performance. Check out the details from Sing Theatre's press release below:


10 November - 9 December

Chef of French Bistro uses musical theatre ingredients to cook a crispy show for its 10th anniversary.

The famous French Stall, all revamped and renamed TFS Bistrot, has lent its whips to the creative juice of local theatre company Sing’theatre ( A Singaporean in Paris) to mastermind the ultimate recipe of food and entertainment in the most authentic, relaxed and popular French bouquet. Seduced by the genuine atmosphere of TFS Bistrot, international star, Europe connoisseur, George Chan rolled up a crunchy direction for A SHOW served right to the diners’ tables, on the terrace, of course! As anniversary goodies go, this unparalleled performance is offered to the clientele, free of charge but full of generosity, wits and fun.

“TFS Bistrot and Sing’theatre share the same values, we want to make the popular French culture accessible to all Singaporeans. We want to showcase the honest and creative Ratatouille rather than the sophisticated Moulin Rouge” chips in Nathalie Ribette, Sing'theatre's artistic director.

“A bistro, unlike a restaurant, is not a place about making a lot of money; it’s a place about enjoying people” modestly states chef owner Xavier Le Henaff. At TFS Bistrot, you savour the joyous experience that is true bistro dining: tasty, generously served fares inspired by La Cuisine des Mères (The Mothers’ cooking), whipping favourite staples served at a fair and reasonable price. TFS Bistrot, boldly standing on its Serangoon Road corner with its new coat of blue and sunny colours, offers the appropriate old fashioned, inviting atmosphere where “les habitués” (the regulars) can brawl an intimate relationship with the patrons and employees, a reminder of the origins of bistro: a family business that served the working class.

Artists are the salt and pepper of the French heart and that French muscle sings mainly to the aroma of cuisine. TSF Bistrot and Sing’theatre knead for us the legendary alliance of artists and bistros. Hemingway, Joyce, and Rimbaud were regulars. Jeremy Irons, Travolta, Robert de Niro are habitués.

From 10th of November to 7th of December, Serangoon antiquated tiled floor perfectly stages a witty performance among diners comfortably seated on straw-bottomed chairs, enjoying heart-warming fares on fancy tablecloths.

In France, all finishes with a song, but all starts with a song as well when it comes to Cabaret. Sing’theatre boils down the ingredients of the quintessential French quid pro quos in a clever acting and singing show. The wife of the Boss (Nathalie Ribette) eavesdrops and mistakenly interprets the conversation her husband (Xavier Le Henaff) is having with the sexy and dynamic new manager (Tini). Nothing to worry about, True Love will triumph and to share this happy ending, all diners will be treated with a piece of delicious birthday cake.

For a memorable month, twice a night, you experience the spicy taste of a true French “Patron” (the Boss): a generous, larger than life personality, who shares his passion for food and good time. Xavier Le Henaff enthusiastically swaps his toque every night for his leading role in the comedy brought to you by Sing’ theatre, serving a big-hearted performance with an undeniably French air.

Director George Chan
Script Jasmine Teo
Musical Director Peter Stead
Executive Producer Nathalie Ribette
Producer Sing’theatre Ltd

Cast Xavier le Henaff, Nathalie Ribette, Tini

Venue TFS Bistrot, 544 Serangoon Road, SG 218166

Dates 10 November - 9 December 2011
Two Shows a night 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM
Every evening except Mondays & 15 & 17 November

Reservation 6299 3544 / 9712 5563

Menu Formule TFS Bistrot @ $29,80 or à la carte. Check the Dish of the day. No extra charge for the performance.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Albert Tiu Feature on Fanfare Magazine

Albert Tiu, professor at our very own YST Conservatory, has scored yet another exclusive magazine feature for his recordings following the one on Time Out Singapore by (ahem...) your's truly. Check it out here:


Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)

Hand it to the folks at Monty Python to bring us something to cheer up another mundane Monday morning, these British fellas really know their oratorios well enough to offer a good send-up!