Monday, 10 August 2009

Singapore Lyric Opera Children's Choir: THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC / Review

Singapore Lyric Opera Children’s Choir
Khor Ai Ming & Cherylene Liew, Conductors
Lim Yan, Piano
Esplanade Recital Studio
Saturday (8 August 2009)
This review was published in The Straits Times on 10 August 2009.

This reviewer confesses that a children’s concert would have fallen off the radar if not for having a seven-year-old in tow. Writing as a parent of a somewhat artistic kid, there can be no greater joy than witnessing children sharing their talents, musical or otherwise, even if the standards are not up to scratch.

Thankfully, the Singapore Lyric Opera Children’s Chorus is totally capable of holding its own. Comprising mostly girls (there were only five boys), the 46-strong ensemble entertained with a 90-minute-long potpourri of songs from around the world.

Whether in original score or arrangements, the short works had grateful unison passages, which were carried with much clarity and largely in pitch. The simple harmonisations, as in John Leavitt’s Cantate!, the traditional Irish air Danny Boy and Australian Waltzing Matilda, were also handled by the choir with much ease.

Opportunities for solo and small ensemble singing arose, and were reciprocated with confidence. The trio of boys in The Yellow Rose of Texas, the sextet in a choreographed Honey Bun from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific and the 18-member sub-chorus in Zoltan Kodaly’s Evening Song had their moments under the spotlight.

Asian songs dominated the second half of the evening, beginning with Bengawan Solo and Lenggang Kangkong / Rasa Sayang in Zechariah Goh Toh Chai’s deft transcription. Four harpists provided accompaniment to Dick Lee’s Bunga Sayang (from Kampong Amber), which made for quite a sight.

The diminutive Tan Rong Ting lovingly sang the solo for the Jiangsu folksong Mo Li Hua, which could have done with added amplification, although none was needed for the rousing Japanese marching song Utae Ban Ban. Had the chorus memorised the lyrics for the Abba medley of Mamma Mia!, Thank You For The Music, Dancing Queen and I Have A Dream, and gone for groovy moves, it would have been perfect.

A healthy dose of poignancy tinged the encores, with the late-lamented Michael Jackson’s We Are The World and the National Day Parade favourite, Dick Lee’s Home. Veteran conductor Paul Abisheganaden once had a dream, that Singapore would become a singing nation. These small steps, made by young people like the SLO Children’s Choir, are surely taking us there.

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