Sunday, January 29, 2012

Basso Canaries - Performers' Bios

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So as a second feature of the upcoming Basso Canaries concert (starring ME!!!) I though I'd put up bios of the four performers. Hope it'll be interesting to you.


Founded in 2011, The Basso Canaries are two young local baritones Xiao Chunyuan and Steven Ang. These two vocalists have known each other when they were private students of Madam Elena Ng Choy-Luan, a famous Singaporean vocal educator, and perform together often in duets and as section leaders of choirs. As both aspire to professional careers in the arts, they have decided to form a performing duo with the moniker of The Basso Canaries.

Andrew Xiao Chunyuan
Born to a family of artistic culture, Chunyuan graduated recently from Singapore Raffles Music College with a Foundation Degree, equivalent to the UK’s Higher National Diploma as certified by the University Of West London.

Xiao became interested in singing during his secondary school days and this led him to come to a decision to learn singing in 2005 with Madam Elena Ng Choy Luan, a Singaporean soprano, notably famous for educating good singers. Under her tutelage, Xiao was awarded Grade 5 Merit by ABRSM that year.

Xiao was chosen to record the theme song for the Adidas China commercial advertisement in 2008. He was part of the pioneering batch of music students at the Singapore Raffles Music College, studying for an Advanced Diploma in Classical Singing.

Late 2009, Xiao was transferred to Mr. William Lim, well-known opera and oratorio singer in the Asia region. In 2010, Xiao was awarded 2nd prize at the 4th Zhong Sin International Music Competition, Male Vocal Open category. He also received a Diploma in Singing by the London College of Examinations Board, Thames Valley University. In late December 2011, Xiao received the honour of being one of the vocalists chosen to perform all new vocal works by Singaporean composers. In addition to singing, Xiao is also a composer and arranger. Two of his new works, Ding Dong Bells and The Ring That Left Behind have received their world premieres on 12th February this year. His music is available at and

Steven Ang
Steven Ang is an up-and-coming performer and arts journalist in the region. Currently studying classical vocal music in Taipei’s Soochow University, his main teachers are Singaporeans Reuben Lai, Elena Ng and Taiwanese Sun Ching-Chi.

Steven is active in the theatre, classical music and choral scenes and has performed in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Mainland China. Companies he has worked with include the Singapore Broadway Playhouse (ensemble actor), Echo Philharmonic Society (bass section leader and soloist), Musical Theatre Ltd (supporting role, undertaken in only two weeks), Singapore Symphony (chorus member), Taipei’s Cherubim Singers (vocal ensemble) and YinQi Symphony Chorus. Recent performances include recitals in Taiwan and Singapore, charity performances and chorus member for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Verdi’s Aida (co-production by the Taipei Symphony and Opera di Roma, undertaken in only 18 days).

In addition to performing, Steven is also the founder and editor of local opera e-zine The Mad Scene ( and Classical and Opera columnist for Time Out Singapore. His writings have also been featured in 8 Days and The Straits Times.

Beatrice Lin
Born in Singapore, Beatrice is sought after as a chamber musician and accompanist. She has worked with many instrumentalists, vocalists, and conductors from Singapore and abroad. She is also actively involved in orchestras as a violinist and keyboardist, having performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Geneva. She has also been a répétiteur for many years, working closely with numerous local school choirs, the Singapore Dance Theatre, Singapore Lyric Opera, Opera Holland Park, London and Geneva Competition in 2008. She has performed as a concert soloist in the Czech Republic, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Beatrice graduated from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Of Music under full scholarship, supported by the National Arts Council where she studied with Albert Tiu and Khoo Siaw Sing. She then took on postgraduate studies at Royal Academy of Music with grateful support from the National Arts Council and Lee Foundation and completed her Masters in Piano Accompaniment under the class of Jean Jacques Balet at the Geneva Conservatory Of Music. Beatrice is also a member of piano trio The Incursion Trio, Singapore’s only professional piano trio ensemble.

Iris Koh
Iris Koh started learning music from young and received her ABRSM Grade 8 in Piano during her secondary school days. Soon after finishing her junior college at Raffles Junior College, she went to the University Of Adelaide to study for a Bachelor of Music, specializing in Musicology. Upon her graduation in BMus with Honours in Musicology, Iris continued her post-graduate studies and attained a Masters in Music at the University Of Queensland.

During her years with the Singapore Music Association, she was Vice-President in 2004 and was their Honorary Secretary from 2001 to 2002 and again in 2006.

Iris is also a vocal coach and choral conductor as well, with her choir receiving The Most Promising Choir award during the International Choral Festival held in 2005.

Iris is the founder of AthenArts which specialises in teaching vocal, piano and violin music as well as staging music events.

Recently she founded the Singers Club All Girls. The group recently performed at the TEDx Women Singapore Showcase on 8th Dec 2010, featuring her song Shoes. Subsequently this video was showcased in, a prestigious international website that promotes cutting edge ideas, innovation and world class speakers.


Phew that's quite a chunk to get through. Once again the Basso Canaries concert takes place on 6 February 2012. Tickets are available at The Arts Houses's box office but you can also email or call 9180 9453 for tickets. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stuart Skelton & Janice Watson in "Fidelio"

Stuart Skelton, star of the SSO's Fidelio on 18 Feb, teamed up with SLO Salome star Janice Watson in an October 2011 performance in Taichung, with maestro Lan Shui conducting the local orchestra. Now who could possible be so boh liao as to tape record their act 2 duet and send it over to Singapore's only opera magazine?

So here's half a preview of what's to come and half a souvenir for SLO fans; Janice was clearly having an off night as she was having problems with high notes throughout the evening, maybe four evenings of gutsy singing two months earlier had taken its toll on her, or maybe it was the never-ending rain of Taiwan's autumnal season.  Skelton on the other hand was quite a revelation with a robust, big tenor that still maintains a plush, soft but firm quality despite its big size. Dramatically both singers have clearly inhibited their parts (they were the only soloists not sight-reading that night) and were both convincing and moving in their portrayals. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Introducing Nabillah Jalal

Because sometimes its good to offer a helping hand, especially when I finally have some time to take a breather and update my own blog. Nabillah Jalal is the only one of the few Singaporeans to be accepted in the Royal College of Music's recent intake of piano students. Unfortunately she's rather strapped for cash at the moment. Below is the letter she sent in, go give it a read and see if you are able to help. Thanks!


Hello The Mad Scene,

My name is Nabillah Jalal and I am 19 years old.

Recently, I have been granted instant acceptance to the world's number 1 conservertoire, Royal College Music (RCM) in London which accepts only 14 students worldwide annually to its RCM's Bachelor of Music (Piano) course and I am very thrilled to be part of this select group of pianists. However, an education abroad in one of the world's finest music conservatories is beyond my family's financial reach and we need all the help we can get to enable me to go forth and grasp this huge opportunity.

We are currently trying our best to pool our resources for this and I am also currently seeking financial help through various scholarships and the assistance of my MP. I am writing to you in hope that the local media will be interested to pick up my story and through it, reach out to a community who might be able to offer us some help.

Some clips of my past performances can be found here ( I can also be contacted at or +65 9620 3874 and I look forward to a positive reply from you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Audtions for Sharpley's opera "Fences"

It looks like OperaViva's long in-the-works production of John Sharpley's, Richard Yeoh Robert Yeo's (librettist) and Leow Siak Fah's (producer) opera Fences is finally getting off ground, and YOU have a chance to take part! Here are audition details FYR:

OperaViva, together with creative director Chandran K Lingam, will be holding auditions for male and female singers for its upcoming production of FENCES, an opera composed by Dr John Sharpley, that will premier in August 2012.

FENCES is the story of Steven Lee, a young Chinese Singaporean and Nora, a Malay girl from Malaya, set against the backdrop of the turbulent political events of the 60's.

FENCES has six principal roles :

Steven LEE, early 20s
Nora Ibrahim, early 20s
Mr Lee,
Mrs lEE
Che Ibrahim,
Puan Ibrahim

and a chorus of 40 people. Ability to dance is a plus.

We are also looking for a young Lee Kwan Yew look-alike!

Auditions will be held on:

Date: Sunday, 12th February 2012
Time: 11.00am to 4.00pm
Venue: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA)
Seminar Room (B2-08)

Interested participants should:

1. Prepare a short classical song. You can choose to either bring an accompanist or sing a capella
2. Read/act a short monologue. You have the option to prepare your own or accept an impromptu reading from the libretto of FENCES.
3. Be able to read music.
4. Have some theatrical / music experience.

Application is for a singing part, either a particular role or as a member of the chorus.

Please register your interest by emailing us at with the following details:

Contact Number:
Voice Type:

On the 12 February, you should also bring with you a recent photo of yourself and your resume of performances.

We look forward to seeing Singapore's brightest!

And if you do intend to audition, please mention that you found out about it here ok? All the best!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Basso Canaries - 6 February 2012

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And because everytime I come back someone is bound to ask when am I going to stage my comeback recital, I guess its about time to finally get around to doing one. The Basso Canaries concert takes place on 6 February 2012 (Monday), where I will be teaming up with my friend and fellow baritone Andrew Xiao, with help from our accompanists Beatrice Lin and Iris Koh.  Andrew will be performing Barber's Three Songs by James Joyce, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and his own composition Three Years and Eight Months.

As for me, its a programme of favourite Chinese art songs by assorted composers, from classical poetry settings to love serenades and folk-dance tunes. One might think that such a programme might have been inspired by my time spent in Taiwan, but the truth is that Chinese music played only a minuscule part in my studies here, as we are only required to sing one song for each semester's exam. After two years of full-time studies I kinda missed working on this repertoire, so when the opportunity came to do this concert, I thought it would be a great chance for me to really explore these numbers in greater detail. I will also be bringing home some items I picked up in Taiwan, including contemporary compositions by established composers, so those looking for a fresh spin on what's going on in other countries will also have something to look forward to. Future projects in Singapore are already in the works and will be more focused on Western rep.

So what we have here is a really wide-ranging and yet in-depth programme that caters to a really broad variety of tastes, from serious song cycles and Asian compositions (including a world premiere), to nostalgic favourites and frivolous showtunes. Tickets are at a really low cost of $12 (inclusive of ticketing surcharges), about the price of a weekend movie ticket but promising the excitement that only live entertainment can bring, so please show some support by buying a ticket and attend our little event.

Tickets are not available for purchase on, but please email me at and I will purchase them on your behalf.  Cya! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tan Dun Interview Feature on Time Out Singapore

Tan Dun brings his act to town on 27 and 28 Jan and I got to discuss his latest Martial Arts Trilogy project with him for this month's issue of Time Out Singapore. Check out my feature here. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Samsung GALAXY Note - FCU2 ep. 4 Fly Like A Buttress


Sometimes after a hard day's work its just calming to watch something utterly boh liao by people who are really good at it; and so I was entertained by this internet series FCU, which stands for Fact Checkers Unit. its about pretty two guys from some made-up government agency where they have to verify if certain random celebrity information is true, which is of course cue for a list of celebrity cameos including Moby and, in this latest episode, DMC from Run DMC. Oh and you'll get to see the new Samsung GALAXY Note smartphone in there too, though not in an obvious, intrusive way. Take a break from your arias and check out this  video, we'll get back to discussing trills soon!

This post is sponsored by Samsung

Monday, January 9, 2012

Andoyama and Bevlyn Khoo Performs Jazz Classics

Andayoma is a French Caribbean Jazz singer, composer, and songwriter based in Singapore. Her show this Thursday and Friday at The Arts House will see her delivering unique renditions of jazz classics such as: “The Shadow of your smile” (J. Mandel/P-Francis Webster), S'Wonderful (Gershwin), and "The Waters of March" (Antonio Carlos Jobim.). Joining her is Bevlyn Khoo. Check out for details.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

Yes there's been a dearth of updates recently, please excuse me as I had to go through 6 full performances in December 2011 alone, including 2 solo recitals, 2 choir recitals, a dance performance and Beethoven's 9th (just concluded), so my apologies to all you readers as well as those who have sent me stuff but I have not had the capacity to respond to. Here's to a great 2012 and many more fabulous operatic moments to come!

So while I'm still on a 'Choral' high, here's a clip of Beethoven's classic celebration of humanity set to a beautiful backdrop of fireworks, curtesy of Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic. Isn't wonderful at times that we have made such amazing, soul-stirring music part of our lives? Enjoy!