Friday, 30 May 2014

VICTORIA CONCERT HALL REOPENS! A Lucky Audience Gets A Sneak Preview In Acoustic Test Performance

At long last! After a four year wait, Victoria Concert Hall has now reopened! A select audience was given a sneak preview of the wonders of the 109 year-old Victoria Memorial Hall in an acoustic test performance with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on Thursday 29 May 2014.

First, all who came with expectant thoughts were startled by the new structural changes to the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre complex. The space between the two auditoriums has been transformed into a spacious plaza with a glass ceiling. Gone forever is possibly Singapore's slowest ever lift (installed in 1980 to accommodate then-SSO Patron Dr Goh Keng Swee)!  Much of the old architecture and all of the old pillars have been retained. The whitewashed interior looks wonderful.

The symmetrical staircases that lead from the first and second floors are still there, only the busts of Singapore's former colonial governors have yet to be restored. The grand staircase to the Circle has however been removed, and in its place is a strange looking spiral staircase (below), which looks like a pale shadow of its predecessor.

The test performance opened with organist Dr Margaret Chen
performing Louis Vierne's Carillon de Westminster,
which sounds magnificent on the Klais organ. 

Shane Thio was the soloist in the Andante slow movement
from Mozart's Piano Concerto No.21.
The piano in the new acoustic sounds brilliant and over-bright.
Imagine what Liszt or Rachmaninov would sound like here! 

Orchestral musicians shut their ears during a full-frequency
audio sound-check conducted with fancy equipment (right).

Part of the VIP audience, including Prof Cham Tao Soon,
Mrs Goh Chok Tong and Prof & Mrs Lim Seh Chun.

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony from the Singapore Symphony
Orchestra led by Associated Conductor Jason Lai.
Again the sound is bright but not over-reverberant.
Perhaps one needs to sit a little further back not to be
overawed by the sheer impact of the sound.

As the hall empties, one marvels at the space.
The balcony has been greatly reduced, so that
the sound travels better to the back stall seats.
The hall now seats 673 people, down from the previous 883.

More views of the Central plaza.

One keenly awaits for the real opening of the new Victoria Concert Hall. It is going to be a truly joyous and momentous occasion!

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