Monday, 26 May 2014


A view of Jinjihu Lake
from the Arts & Cultural Centre

Day 9 (Saturday, 24 May 2014)

The fourth and final concert of the tour, held in the afternoon, was a Children’s Concert entitled A Music Weather Conversation. On the programme catered for the young and young at heart were short pieces with the weather, seasons and nature as the unifying theme. Three children from Suzhou were invited to grace the event, with pride of place for 13-year-old erhu prodigy Ma Hanxing as soloist in Liu Wen Jin’s Yu Bei Ballad, and Yang Yueqi and Xu Han in a calisthenics display in the Suite of Children’s Songs arranged by Phoon Yew Tien. 

Local television personality Xin Wenrong was the narrator in Kuan Nai-chung’s Instrumental Guide to the Chinese Orchestra, a Chinese counterpart of Benjamin Britten’s classic. The theme used was however the immortal Chinese melody Molihua. Even Maestro Yeh Tsung got into the thick of things by leading the audience in a series of movements and actions that simulated varying weather conditions, from the pitter-patter of light rain to a squalling typhoon. Clearly he and the orchestra were enjoying themselves being young again.

It was still daylight after the concert, but there was to be no more sightseeing for this foot-weary traveller. Music, on the other hand… My final act was to take a couple of stops away on Suzhou’s new underground line to the Suzhou Industrial Park Youth and Children’s Centre to witness the inaugural Suzhou-Singapore Young Talent Competition. Thirty string players under the age of fifteen vied for the top prize of RMB 10,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Singapore for the Grand Final. Needless to say, the level was high which bodes well for classical music in China. Organiser and chief judge of the competition, Singaporean violinist Siow Lee-Chin thinks so too.

A performance by music students of Soochow University,
and Siow Lee-Chin makes a speech.

Its time to go home! Farewell to China!

Day 10 (Sunday, 25 May 2014)  

All too soon, it was time to pack the bags and return to Singapore. This trip was an eye-opener for me, one that showed that the Singapore Chinese Orchestra is a most worthy cultural ambassador and the pride of our nation. Like a reciprocal version of Ming dynasty explorer Zhenghe all those centuries ago, the orchestra’s voyages in the name of Singapore art and culture has helped develop and cement friendships with the “Middle Kingdom” in the north. As China finds its destiny as the leading economy and superpower of the 21st century, Singapore is proud to look to China with fondness, and glory in its shared common roots, culture and history. 

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