Monday, 7 December 2015


My review of the National Piano & Violin Competition 2015 Finals will come out in The Straits Times soon, but print space did not allow me to write about the performances at the Prize Winners' Concert, so I shall briefly mention them here together with my sneakily taken pictures. 

At the ceremony, there were those robotic humanoids who tried to prevent proud parents from taking photos of their talented children receiving their well-deserved prizes. I told off one usher, who subsequently retreated into a dark hole and never disturbed people again (that is until the next concert).

The concert began with the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra led by Chan Tze Law accompanying the winners of the Artist Piano & Violin categories in concertos movements by Saint-SaĆ«ns and Tchaikovsky. 

Having guaranteed their cash prizes, and without the adrenaline of competition, they performed poorly, and the Acting Minister of Education must have been wondering, "I came out on a Sunday evening for this?" For everyone's sake, hopefully he cannot tell Bach from Berg. For my part, I think some of the lower placed finalists would have performed better.    

All the prize winners of all the categories.
All the judges,and the competition's composer-in-residence
Zechariah Goh Toh Chai.
The biggest winner of them all was Ronan Lim Ziming,
who won $12,5000 in total! 

So it was left to the young ones to show how it was done, and they did so magnificently. All the judges were in total agreement that the performers in the Junior and Intermediate categories were gems in the making. Let's hope our education system does not mess them up. 

Kate Liu left Singapore at the age of 8, settled in USA and went on to win 3rd prize in the 2015 Chopin International Piano Competition. Cynical ones say she won because she did not have to worry about PSLE, O Levels, N Levels, A Levels, S Papers, IB, IP, ABRSM, SYF, NDP and all that jazz. Now that's one lesson to be learnt.

Paganini's Caprice No.16 lasts only one minute, but
Tricia Ng En Lin (Violin Junior) made it sparkle.
Yap Sheng Hwa (Piano Junior) displayed a
crisp and rhythmically precise technique in
Albeniz's Castilla (Seguidillas).
Ronan Lim Zhiming (Violin Senior) showed why he won
the GST Award with a soaring lyrical account
of Brahms' Violin Sonata No.1(1st movement)
with pianist Lim Yan in support.
This guy's a genius.
Mervyn Lee (Piano Senior) giving an enthralling account
of Goh Toh Chai's Quinquagenarian Celebration.
Jordan Alexandra Jun Yi Hadrill (Violin Intermediate)
played the longest piece on the programme, but there
was not a single dull moment in her swashbuckling
reading of Wieniawski's Variations on an Original Theme.
Wang Hua Hao Jia (Piano Intermediate) was all
brilliant fingers in Debussy's Feux d'artifice
and Filipenko's Toccata.
The last piece in the 3-hour long concert saw
Ronan Lim Ziming and Lim Yan in
Lutoslawski's Subito, which saw the audience
applauding before the work ended!

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