Friday 21 June 2024

COMPOSITIONS EXCHANGE 2024 / Association of Composers (Singapore) / Review


Association of Composers (Singapore) 
Esplanade Recital Studio 
Wednesday (19 June 2024)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 21 June 2024 with the title "Singapore composers showcase works".

For a composer in Singapore, the most important thing is to have your work performed. First impressions matter, so having best possible performers for the premiere is a priority. The annual concert of the Association of Composers (Singapore), which showcased 12 works by 12 composers, was fortunate in having some of most accomplished locally-based professional musicians involved. 

Subtitled “Capriccio In The Style Of Folk Melodies”, most of the works were based on earlier music and crafted in the form of variations, fantasies and rhapsodies. The Chinese artsongs and instrumental works were sensitively accompanied by pianists Clarence Lee and Andren Koh respectively. 

Soprano He Miya sang two songs, opening the concert with Lee Yuk Chuan’s Yinghua Village Scenery Is Wonderful, extolling the land’s pristine beauty. Her expressive quality and ability to reach high notes effortlessly also touched in Quek Yong Siu’s Mother’s Smile, a song possessed with tenderness and nostalgia. 

Tenor Zhuang Jie had three songs, exhibiting examplary vocal control in Liu Bin’s Homesickness, another mother-centred work more than tinged with melancholy. Quite different was Xiao Chunyuan’s An Auspicious Place, its rhythmic accompaniment supporting a more emphatic stance, further contrasted with a feel-good, pop-inspired sentimentality of Gan Yun Zhuo’s Everlasting Love

Of the instrumental works, Red Peach Blossom & White Apricot Blossom as arranged by Cao Ying was dressed with French impressionist colours. Sin Jin How’s flute ably provided virtuosic turns and nuances, transforming this Shanxi folksong into an almost improvisatory fantasy. 

Violinist Siew Yi Li was the busiest instrumentalist after pianist Koh, having performed no less than five showpieces. Chiew Keng Hoon’s arrangement of Xinjiang folksong Swallow Capriccio had a typically Central Asian flavour, and closed in soulful repose. Daniel Kom’s Variations On The More We Get Together, after the Austrian children’s song O Du Lieber Augustin, included a waltz, rhumba, romance in minor key and a variation a la Johann Pachelbel for good measure. 

Lee Ngoh Wah’s Galloping Horses was a variation of the popular erhu melody Sai Ma (Horse-racing). Its familiarity was topped by Lian Sek Lin’s Kaka Dan Mama, which merged the Indonesian folksongs Burung Kakak Tua and Aiyo Mama into a melange which the audience simply loved. 

Just as recognisable was the melody of Di Tanjung Katong Rhapsody, as crafted by Frederick Ng Eng Thong. The music played with polytonality and obliged the violinist to jump through several Paganinian hoops of string calisthenics before its grandstanding close. 

Pride of place, however, went to Lisa Zhao Lingyan’s Variations Of Yi Folk Dance, which transformed Wang Huiran’s simple Yunnan theme into something truly special. Its reimagination as a riveting rhapsody from Roarin’ Twenties Paris saw cellist Olivia Chuang and pianist Koh playing like people possessed. Its fanciful flight of ostinatos chanelled the spirits of Darius Milhaud, Bohuslav Martinu, Igor Stravinsky and hot jazz without imitating them. Hearing this work was alone worth the price of entry.

Here are the composers and performers:
He Miya, Lisa Zhao Lingyan, Clarence Lee,
Zhuang Jie, Quek Yong Siu, Xiao Chunyuan,
Lee Yuk Chuan, Chiew Keng Hoon, Lian Sek Lin,
Cao Ying, Frederick Ng Eng Thong, Daniel Kom,
Liu Bin, Andren Koh & MC (from L)

1 comment:

Zhao lingyan (Lisa) said...

I read your article on street times and share with my friends. I really excited to know that you like this piece, thanks so much for your article, your commend is really appreciated!