Saturday, 11 December 2010

JOY / Singapore Lyric Opera Children's Choir / Review

Singapore Lyric Opera Choruses
Esplanade Concert Hall
Friday (10 December 2010)

It is no secret that children’s choirs attract the biggest audiences, more so during the Yuletide season. The Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO) has leveraged on this to make its annual Christmas choral concert a popular family affair. Conducted by Khor Ai Ming and Cherylene Liew, the SLO Children’s Choir put on yet another heartrending show, ably supported by its older peers the SLO Youth and Opera Choirs.

The 2-hour long fare began with a processional, as the children smartly dressed in street clothes singing the ancient hymn O Come, Emmanuel as they trooped centrestage. The two opposing groups produced an even unison in their separate chants, and harmonised well for the chorus.

Individual members had moments to shine in solo parts. Trebles Harry Mills and Matthew Bailey were paradigms of clarity and innocence in Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus. There was even a barking and yelping canine semi-chorus for The 12 Dogs Of Christmas, a cheeky play on the popular song, with “five golden retrievers” and a “schnauzer with a goatee”.

In Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, the solo voice was replaced by grouped singers without losing its poignancy. As a conglomerate, the choir crafted a big expansive sound for Adolphe Adam’s O Holy Night. The older singers remained for John Rutter’s The Lord Bless And Keep You and All Things Bright And Beautiful, the latter with a short cameo from veteran operatic baritone William Lim.

The second half had a more rhythmic feel. The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy was given a calypso twist while The Little Drummer Boy took on a bolero beat, aided by the very steady piano accompanist Bertrand Lee. Flautist Sin Jin How joined in Pavane For A Silent Night, which speeded and cheered up Ravel’s sedate classic.

Just to illustrate the variety of songs sung, Mykola Leontovich’s Carol Of The Bells rejoiced in the frisson of tintinnabulation, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas subtly sounded an anti-war protest and David Meece’s We Are The Reason proselytised on an openly evangelical platform.

Tama Goh’s drums and Tony Makarome’s bass ensured a funky end with a jazzed up and soul-infused Hallelujah Chorus. There was a half-hearted attempt at an audience sing-along and clap-along, but it mattered little. That unmistakable seasonal spirit of cheer had already arrived.

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