Friday, 24 July 2009

ACS(J) String Orchestra Meets The SSO / Review

ACS(J) String Orchestra Meets The SSO
Victoria Concert Hall
Thursday (23 July 2009)

It is a well-known fact that the Singapore Symphony Orchestra is extremely selective with whom it collaborates. It was thus a pleasant surprise to find Singapore’s national orchestra sharing the stage with a primary school orchestra. The beneficiary was Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), with the proceeds of the concert going to the elite school’s Arts Alive Fund.

Hosted by actor and old boy Adrian Pang, the concert opened with the boys of the ACS(J) String Orchestra (left), smartly attired in black with navy blue trimmings, conducted by Mervyn Goh. The discipline and alertness of the ensemble was immediately apparent in Paul Lewis’ Suite Navarraise. Wavering intonation aside, it was in sync for most part, and sensitive to changes in tempo for a work that thrived on its earthy and rocking Spanish rhythms.

The greatest challenge came in accompaniment, an area where more time and effort may be devoted in future. In Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in A major (PV.35), it was SSO cellist Chan Wei Shing’s solo that stood out while the accompanying strings scrambled to support him. Kudos must however go to young cellist Linch Lim who mustered everything he has learnt to harmonise with the soloist.

The Singapore premiere of Samuel Adler’s Concertino for Strings gave the group ample opportunities to flex a big sound, lilt to the siciliano rhythm of the slow movement, and provide a spirited flourish to close the concert’s first half. For an ensemble which included several P1 and 2 students (aged 6 and 7), this itself is an amazing effort to be truly proud of.
The big boys and girls of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra led by Music Director Lan Shui came on for the second half in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. The soloist was 16-year-old Pan Yi An (left), for whom the work was an ultimate piece of chamber music.

Although musically satisfying and ultimately tasteful, one could have wished for more of Beethoven’s brio and heaven-storming tantrums. The chorale-like slow movement found Pan at her most comfortable. She is a poet rather than a barnstormer. The Rondo finale saw her struggling with the ascending scale passages but there was still much to enjoy in the performance as a whole.

The loudest cheer came after six musicians from ACS(J) Strings joined the SSO for a rousing performance of the ACS Anthem (The Maple Leaf Forever) by Alexander Muir, orchestrated by old boy Kelly Tang, and lustily sung by a hall filled with ACSians. With SSO musicians as role models, these youngsters will surely emerge as sons of a better age.


kytan said...

Hi Tou Liang,

Thanks for posting your review - it was a frank but encouraging review.
I came across your review by googling and have posted it on my Facebook page (hope you don't mind ..) Anyway, Pete Goh saw it and said it was a good review but told me to inform you about one error : Chan Wei Shing was playing with Linch Lim and not Andre Wong. They had switched positions for the Vivaldi piece.
Good to have met up with you last night.
Cheers !

Chang Tou Liang said...

Thanks for the tip. I'll make the change!

Peter YT said...

Dear Tou Liang
Thank you for your kind review and your wonderful words of encouragement. The boys put in a lot of hard work for this and sacrificed much. Hopefully this experience will inspire them towards greater musical excellence.
Sorry I didn't manage to catch up with you at the concert.
Warmest regards

Chang Tou Liang said...

Well done, guys! I just love the great effort put in by young people who just love music and want to share their passion. You have lots to be proud of!