I had the fortune of attending a Sunday evening rehearsal by the chic string ensemble re:mix, preparing for overseas concert performance in Hong Kong. This wonderful "petite bande" has been invited to perform overseas on a number of occasions, making its mark in West Malaysia, Sabah and Thailand. Their début in Hong Kong will be the furthest destination they will bring their unique brand of music to.
re:mix is a semi-professional group in that all its members have had professional musical training but their being in this ensemble is a labour of love. Neither its leader-conductor Foo Say Ming, SSO violinist and Head of Strings in the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, nor its members receive any remuneration for their efforts in concert. Their endeavours are strictly voluntary and borne wholly by the love of music and the adrenaline of performance.
Their rehearsals are now held in a small, cramped room at the Waterloo Arts Centre. The sounds of Cantonese opera and Chinese percussion emanate from a neighbouring room (a traditional Chinese arts group) through its porous non-sound proofed walls, but when re:mix starts, there is no stopping their passion of music-making.
Say Ming (above) has a very open, friendly avuncular style, one that encourages his players rather than intimidates them. Rehearsals are like a meeting of friends who converse by playing than by speaking. Everybody wants to be there, even if some latecomers straggle in to find their places in the little chamber. This evening they are joined by three wind players, a flautist, a clarinettist and a bassoonist who play in the Paganini-Kreisler Concerto in One Movement and Mozart's Don Giovanni Overture.
re:mix concerts are vibrant, good-humoured and never too serious affairs and so are the rehearsals. The Paganini-Kreisler work is a Hollywood-ised adaptation of the first movement from Paganini's First Violin Concerto, full of surprising harmonies and schmaltzy turns, one certainly befitting re:mix's profile and repertoire.
|Cheryl Lim's solo flute part in the |
Paganini-Kreisler and Mozart works.
Also played in the rehearsal was Dominic Sargent's medley of Hong Kong film melodies and Beatles songs like Help, She Loves You and quite appropriately A Hard Day's Night all dressed up in baroque finery. The rehearsal lasted some three hours, but time really flew by especially when you are having real fun.
So join Say Ming and his gang, and special guests from Hong Kong in Altered States, a concert by re:mix on Sunday (13 October) 8 pm at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.