Friday, 9 March 2012

BOOK LAUNCH: That Night By The Beach by PHAN MING YEN

I usually do not attend many book launches, but this one was different. The first book by my long-time partner in crime Phan Ming Yen (having co-founded the Piano Marathon and the radio show Bluff Your Way Through Classical Music) was a landmark of sorts. Titled That Night By The Beach, his is a collection of short stories, each inspired and prefaced by a piece of music that he truly identified with. Here was a genuine culmination for a Renaissance man who comfortably lived the roles of arts graduate, one-time Straits Times music critic (the most critical one at that), Arts Magazine editor, Little Arts Academy administrator, amateur pianist, playwright, author and general busybody of the arts. A native of Selangor (he came here in the late 1980s and never left), he has come to represent the sort of foreign talent our nations truly needs and deserves.

The cover of the 156 page book, published by Ethos Books, one characterised by wide spaces, and broad margins. It takes about the playing length of a CD to read from cover-to-cover, but you feel you have accomplished much during that time.

Theatre Director Jeremiah Choy reads some of the stories and chapters, accompanied by Ming Yen (hidden) on the piano. Among the pieces he performed were movements from Janacek's On An Overgriwn Path and the Mahler's Adagietto (Fifth Symphony).

There was a short question and answer session where Ming Yen talked about being rejected in his application for his dream job, not once but twice. That was to be a programme writer and DJ for Singapore's classical music radio station. (Frankly, his talents would have been wasted on the reactionary and antediluvian institution that is Symphony 92.4 FM). He turned instead to writing about music. Among the questions that were posed: which came first, the music or the stories?

A standing room only audience attended the book launch, including luminaries from Singapore's academic, musical and literary circles.

Ming Yen thanks his supporters and friends from the keyboard, where else?

A long line for autographs.

Ming Yen with his literary professor, the poet Dr Lee Tzu Pheng.

We all know Ming Yen the intellectual is also a babe magnet. Among his fans are Adelina Ong, Low Shao Ying and Low Shao Suan (from L to R).

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