Monday 14 December 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year / Singapore Lyric Opera Choruses / Review

Singapore Lyric Opera Choruses
Esplanade Concert Hall
Saturday (12 December 2009)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 14 December 2009.

You know its Yuletide season when children’s and youth choirs come out in full force. The Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO) has three such choruses, numbering just over a hundred, and what a treat they served in a packed Esplanade Concert Hall.

Andy Williams’ eponymous classic It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year opened the proceedings, showcasing even unison singing and simple harmonies. A staggering 29 other songs followed, varied and totally apt for the festivities. The arrangements of Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring had famous melodies but unfamiliar words. No worries as these came through well despite some hesitant accompaniment from organist Evelyn Lim.

Far more confident was pianist Pang Siu Yuin and harpist Jana Ang Friesova, whose jobs made the listener concentrate on the singers themselves. The solos were lovely in their innocence and vocal projection, such as little Ong Jean Wei in Howard Blake’s Walking In The Air from The Snowman, and the threesome that lit up John Rutter’s For The Beauty Of The Earth.

Most credit should go to conductor Khor Ai Ming (left) whose exactitude ensured that the polyphony, echo effects and syncopations were spot on in three excerpts from Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony Of Carols. She was ably assisted by Cherylene Liew, whose cherry red gown matched the radiance of her solo in Adolphe Adam’s O Holy Night. The young adults of the SLO Chorus joyfully sang the Bell Chorus from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, but was plagued by a perennial issue – shortage of male voices. May their Christmas wish of more tenors and basses come true.

The second half was slightly lighter, with pop and gospel elements coming into the fore. There was a stir of recognition in the American Idol audition favourite You Raise Me Up, the old-time hymn Let There Be Peace On Earth and You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel. Two numbers from Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act (left) drew spontaneous clapping and foot-tapping from the audience.

There was the usual audience sing-along for the medley Seasons Greetings and Rutter’s All Things Bright And Beautiful. If these combined voices did not usher in a feeling of warmth and fuzziness, one might as well be named Ebenezer Scrooge.

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