Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interview with Andrew Xiao and Elaine Su Yiwen

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Living with George F. Handel stars the Basso Canaries, Andrew Xiao and myself, Steven Ang, as well as soprano Elaine Su Yiwen and pianist Beatrice Lin. You've read enough of my ramblings on this blog already, so here's an introduction to my two other singing colleagues. Andrew Xiao is a graduate from the Singapore Raffles Music College, studying under William Lim, while Elaine hails from China, is currently a student at NAFA and winner of their faculty's singing competition, and is a student of Lim Shieh Yih. Here's a quick chat with the two:


The Mad Scene: Thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us why did you choose Handel for a recital programme?

Andrew: George Frideric Handel is one of the most important composers in the Baroque era. The idea of choosing Handel crossed my mind after I had the Feb 6th concert this year (Living With The Basso Canaries). Later on, when I met my vocal teacher Mr. William Lim for a cup of coffee, he asked me what I want to do for this coming August 6th concert, I asked him what he thought of doing a full Handel programme, he said was a good idea and that is how this recital came about.

Also, the Baroque period is a period where you can find the births of vocal genres such as opera, cantatas; oratorios etc, so why not dedicate a programme to this repertoire? Interestingly, the year 1685 in the Baroque period marked the birth of 3 great Baroque composers, namely Domenico Scarlatti, J.S Bach and of course, our George F. Handel.

Elaine: For me, I feel that Handel is a great master of the Baroque era and his musical legacy should not be forgotten. Also most vocalists put a lot of focus on other masters in other periods such as Verdi, Mozart and Puccini. Since the Baroque period is such an important time in the development of music, we should remember Handel for what he has done during this period; therefore we are staging this recital to remember him by.

Andrew Xiao

The Mad Scene: What will you be for us singing that evening?

Andrew: For this recital, I will be singing Revenge, revenge Timotheus Cries from Alexander’s Feast, also known as the The Power of Music. Alexander’s Feast is specially written for the St. Cecilia’s Day which falls on November 23rd.

I will be also be singing Tu se il cor in questo core from Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Cesar in Egypt). In this opera aria taken from Act 1, my role is an Egyptian general Achilla who is madly in love with Cornelia, widow of Roman general Pompey.

Elaine: I will be singing So shall the lute and harp awake from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabeus and two duets, Che vai pensiero folle pensier with Chunyuan and Caro, Bella from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Act III with Steven (you!)

Andrew: According to Google Translate, the meaning of "Che vai pensiero, folle pensier" in English is apparently "What goes thinking is thoughtfully mad". So if you are asking me which aria or song to watch out for, this is the one cos it‘s mad!

The Mad Scene: Which are your favourite Handel operas or oratorios, and why?

Andrew: I think that Handel composed a lot of operas and oratorios during his lifetime and all these works are very beautifully written. As for which is my favourite Handel vocal work, I think Messiah is one of them. Especially the Hallelujah Chorus!

Elaine: My favourite Handel opera is Giulio Cesare in Egitto because it has a lot of beautiful music and arias that are very suitable for me to perform. As for the oratorios, I love the music from Messiah especially the Hallelujah Chorus, very famous number.

Elaine Su Yiwen

The Mad Scene: Which are your favourite CDs/DVDs of Handel’s music?

Andrew: I really do not have many Handel CDs, but I will recommend Handel Arias by Bryn Terfel.

Elaine: I have a CD called Best Handel 50. It consists of 3 compact discs that contains great opera arias, orchestral, instrumental and vocal masterpieces. It is really worth the price of purchase because it has lots of classics.

The Mad Scene: Who are your favourite opera singers? Why?

Andrew: I do not have a particular favourite opera singer, however I do listen to the 2 Thomas’s: Thomas Allen and Thomas Hampson, as well as Bryn Terfel.

Elaine: I have so many favourites! Firstly, Anna Moffo for her excellent bel canto technique and performance skills. Also New Zealander soprano, Kiri te Kanawa, she whose beautiful lyric soprano is very famous; I wish I will be like her some day. Besides these two, there is also Maria Callas whose voice is so angelic and of course Freni whose technique is the best. Lastly Montserrat Caballe whose interpretation skills are wonderful.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why we should all come and attend Living with George F. Handel?

Elaine: The repertoire that we chose to perform are great Handel classics; if you want to improve your understanding of classical music and especially the music of the Baroque, this concert is the one that you should attend!

Andrew: If you are a beginner in Baroque music, Handel suits you best because Handel is a beginner’s guide to Baroque music. Also we have lined up excellent arias and especially the chamber duet, che vai pensiero,folle pensier which is very rarely sung, so there’s something even for seasoned listeners too!


Living with George f. Handel is on 6 August 2012. Tickets are now available at the Arts House Box Office. You can also email to book online. 

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