Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Singapore Symphony Orchestra

Esplanade Concert Hall
Sunday (2 October 2011)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 4 October 2011 with the title "Orchestra's tribute to people's president".

Although the Singapore Symphony Orchestra has been presenting concerts with young musical talents to Singapore’s presidents since the tenure of Mr Ong Teng Cheong, it was the sixth president Mr S R Nathan who made the President’s Young Performers Concert an annual affair. Since 2001, the President’s Concert in July has been the SSO’s opening gala event of its concert season.

Mr and Mrs Nathan were present for every concert, and always stayed to the end to meet and greet the young performers. The orchestra has also been invited to the Istana for grand banquets on two occasions. His support for local musical organisations also extended to being the Patron of the Singapore Lyric Opera, besides providing moral and spiritual encouragement for the development of the Orchestra of the Music Makers.

All the President's Men (and Women).

Appropriately, two President’s Young Performers from the earlier years of the series, pianists Lim Yan (2001) and Abigail Sin (2003), returned to perform Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals with the orchestra in the tribute concert. While the artistry of the two, now 31 and 19 years old respectively, has matured, the virtuosity remained.

Their teamwork and sense of timing was impeccable, bringing to life each of the movements, including a droll parody of The Pianists practising scales, and sensitively accompanying Principal Cellist Ng Pei Sian’s singing lyricism in The Swan.

SSO’s glamour duo of violinist Lynnette Seah and harpist Gulya Mashurova were a joy to behold in Massenet’s Meditation from Tha├»s, while the Liu family - bassoonist Liu Chang, clarinettist Yoko Liu and pianist Liu Jia – polished off Elgar’s Salut d’Amour.

The 90-minute ticketed but free concert, conducted by Lim Yau, was attended by a full house. It closed with more orchestral highlights: Brahms’s Fifth Hungarian Dance, the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and the first movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The last work, while being the most serious number on the programme, was totally apt as the “Eroica” was the portrait of an all-conquering Romantic hero.

The unscripted encore was touching, Kelly Tang’s orchestration of Dick Lee’s Home, performed to a photo-montage of Mr Nathan’s twelve years as the people’s president. It made for a poignant thank you and farewell for a giant of our times.

This concert will be televised on Saturday 8 October 2011 on Okto at 10 pm.

President's Young Performers (From L): pianist Mervyn Lee (2009), pianist Abigail Sin (2003), pianist Albert Lin (2007), violist Lim Chun (2002), pianist Lim Yan (2001), violinist Chan Yoong Han (2003) & violinist Lee Shi Mei (2007).

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