Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Basso Canaries Presents: 'The Billingual Policy' - 10 Feb 2014

In case you don't already know, the Basso Canaries are Andrew Xiao Chunyuan and myself, Steven Ang. This will be our third concert at The Arts House under the Living With series. It will be a programme of English and Chinese songs, two languages that we have been taught to speak from young. Pianist Beatrice Lin will be helping us play again. Singer Alvin Koh and flautist Cheryl Lim will also be making guest appearances.

The show's title, The Bilingual Policy, is really inspired by my 4 year study trip in Taiwan. Apparently the movie I Not Stupid is very popular there, and folks are always asking me if its true that we speak so many languages in one conversation (which of course is true and not so unusual among us Singaporeans). It soon occurred to me that my comfort with both the English and Chinese languages (the latter which is admittedly not as good but has improved significantly over the years) is something akin to having X-Men-like superpowers; friends look on in envy as I chat away with Caucasian visitors, usually an esteemed musician from the US or Europe. Not a day goes by when I'm not called upon to translate one thing or another as a favour, either orally or in writing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

BHSO 'Sing-Messiah!' in Review

The audience sang! and not just a few individuals either. the chorus in the audience was just as strong as the one on stage, even if not so organised.

And really this just about sums up the success of this do-it-yourself concert: the applause and standing ovation at the end was as much a reward for the performers as it was for ourselves for joining in. Suffice to say that I had a blast. 

The atmosphere was generally relaxed, starting off with a humorous spoken introduction by conductor Adrian Tan, the music that followed also had a generally relaxed tempo, easier for audiences to follow in the choruses perhaps, but also for the overture and arias as well. Only 90 minutes of the piece was featured, with much of Act 2 and repeats of arias left out. 

All in all, the sum of this event is greater than its parts. Sure there were many flaws in the performance; the brasses could have better intonation, and much of the first part dragged a little, lacking that baroque rhythmic 'bounce', a soloist had difficulty with high notes, and the chorus could really sing out more. But really all that mattered was that the crowd got to take part in the action, and that everyone had fun doing it (and to be fair I was really too busy sight-singing to listen properly).

The four local soloists, all trained in the UK, had a distinctly commonwealth style in their singing, had good understanding of the British oratorio tradition and appropriate baroque style. this is the best singing I've heard from Ee-Ping, the voice was bright and clear while still retaining its unique creamy colours, the coloratura passages of Rejoice Greatly were tossed off with ease. It's been years since I last heard Rebecca Chellappah; she sang the mezzo parts with much charisma and grace.

In all I would rank this as still an amateur level concert, but a first rate attempt at interactive concerts. As an encore, a medley of popular Christmas carols gave us another fun-filled session before sending us on our way. If this is meant to be the start of an annual Messiah-Singalong tradition and Maestro Tan promised, I say bring it on!

(P.S I totally nailed the runs in For Unto Us a Child is Born!)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

'The Mad Scene' Quoted in The Straits Times

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I must say that I feel quite pleased to see my name and writing quoted in Lightseeker's ad on The Straits Times. The quote was taken from the media preview where a scene was performed for us press people. Apparently the ad had been running for the past month but I only found out this last Friday! So glad to see that The Mad Scene is taken seriously by big name producers in Singapore. My best wishes to everyone involved in the production.

Recruitment for 2nd Steinway Youth Competition

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Registration for the 2nd Steinway Youth Piano Competition is still open till 20 January 2014. If you are or know someone 17 and below who knows his or her way around a keyboard, here's your chance to take your playing to an international level. Click on the link below to sign-up:

Here's a trailer for the competition:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Any Resemblance?

That's Chinese evergreen singer Tsai Qin on the right; you can see that pop music wise I have the taste of a middle-age woman. Yeah Anna Netrebko has really matured from her sex kitten days...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Notre Dame de Paris' in Review

The cast and creative team describe this musical as having 'no recitative, with the story told entirely in song'. What this means is that the show is essentially an endless succession of lovelorn ballads, occasionally interspersed by an uptempo rock number, usually to represent crowd scenes. Each song has its own melody and style, never to be repeated for the rest of the show. And so the storytelling is rather stodgy, no plot development in the (lack of) script nor usage of traditional musical storytelling devices: no overture, no repeated musical themes to give a sense of musical entirety, nor instrumental passages to heighten dramatic moments. The cast sings a lot about how they are feeling, not so much about what happened to get them in these heightened situations. With a lack of dialogue (musical or spoken), the cast resort to briefly miming parts in between songs to help connect one song to the other. Plot points are rushed over even in very dramatic moments, so it takes some guessing and imagination for audiences to understand what's going on. Songs Inspired by the Hunchback of Notre Dame would have been a more appropriate title, rather than calling it a musical per se.

Interviews with Cast of MBS's 'Hunchback of Notre Dame'

So like Hawk and I attended Notre Dame's press conference today and came away with quite a few pictures and face-to-face chats with the cast. Italian Alessandra Ferrari and French-Canadian Matt Laurent in the first video, fellow French-Canadians Richard Charest and Robert Marian in the second. Check out our interviews here. You can also view performance photos on our Facebook Group. Review coming soon!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shenyang, Yu Guanqun, Zhu Huiling Recital at Huayi 2014

World-class opera singers from China gather in Singapore for one recital. Shenyang won the 2007 Cardiff Singer of the Year when he was plucked from obscurity by Renee Fleming during a masterclass in Shanghai, who offered him access to the Met's coaches. He can be seen in the diva's DVD of Handel's Rodelinda at the Metropolitan Opera.

Yu Guanqun, too, has to thank the Met for reaching her to a public much wider than any theatre can hold, namely the readers of Parterre Box, that most fabulous NYC-based website for gay opera fans. How's that for reaching international stardom?

Here's Shenyang's prize-winning performance at Cardiff. Despite his young age, it shows great potential as a dramatic bass baritone when the voice reaches maturity:

Here's a pre-fame clip of Yu Guanqun performing an excerpt of her calling card Il Trovatore:

Shenyang and Yu Guanqun will perform with mezzo Zhu Huiling on 8 February 2014. Check out the Events Page for details.

Four Last Songs with Swedish soprano Annalena Persson - 25 Jan 2014

This is one concert that I'm really looking forward to: having heard her sing Britten's War Requiem in Taipei, I would love to hear this Swedish dramatic soprano in more lyrical pieces. In addition to the Four Last Songs, she will also perform the Liebestod after the interval. Totally worth the ticket price IMHO. Check out the Events Page for tickets!

'Crazy Christmas – Ting Tong Belles' in Review

It was a laugh out loud sketch comedy variety show that includes a dazzling display of song-and-dance. The show ran on a tight ship with segments nicely syncing into each other, topical topics explored first with a comedic monologue and then with a song.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vox Camerata's 'A Ceremony of Carols' in Review

December is the time for Christmas themed concerts; Vox Camerata with guest conductor Reuben Lai got the ball rolling with a beautiful presentation of A Ceremony of Carols among other works.

The concert literally started off with a bang, as a singer banging on a hand-held drum led the choir members down the walkway, starting the show at close distance with the audience before filing in two rows onto the stage.

Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra's 'Sing Messiah!' on Time Out Singapore

I speak to Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra conductor Adrian Tan to discuss the orchestra's upcoming 'Sing Messiah', a performance of Handel's great oratorio where audiences get to bring scores and sing along. Concert also features Ee Ping, Reuben Lai, Rebecca Chellappah and William Lim. Check out the story here:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hi-5 @ MBS - 20 to 22 December 2013

Chidren's act Hi-5 returns to MBS from 20 to 22 December 2013. Here's more information:

Hi-5 Returns to Singapore with a House Party Extravaganza this December

Fans of Hi-5 are in for a treat this holidays when the gang debut their new cast line-up with the “Hi-5 House Party” from 20-22 December at the MasterCard Theatres. The newly created show features Stevie, Lauren, and Dayen as they welcome their newest Hi-5 friends Mary and Ainsley, to the stage to transport audiences to the most fun filled place in the world – their fabulous new “Hi-5 House”. Young audiences will experience a dance party extravaganza with lots of music and party games and non-stop dancing. Tickets for this show will be on sale from 9 October 2013.

The Hi-5 House Party is set in the backyard, where boogie fever lives on together with fun games and non-stop songs with dance moves that everyone can bop to. Hi-5’s favourite friend DJ Chats will be the “party meister” spinning music and keeping everyone on their toes! Audiences can look forward to all the familiar party games kids can ask for, with a Hi-5 twist of course , including hide-and-seek, ‘Chat Says’, musical statues, guessing games and even a limbo competition!

Charlie Rose Interviewing James Levine

I just spent an hour on this lazy Sunday morning watching an interview of Maestro James Levine with Charlie Rose, originally aired on 18 October 2013. He discusses among many other topics his return to the Met after spending two years recovering from a back injury, his formative years learning from the best musicians in the world (check out the picture of the prodigy at 5 years old lounging at on a sofa reading a score of Faust), and the state of opera performance today.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Resorts World Sentosa's 'LightSeeker' in Review

This original local production with a cast of 38 ang mohs (and one Jap) is a fine masterclass in stage technology. It also helps that the production is built around the RWS Theatre, making full use of its space and trappings including audience spaces in order to overwhelm the senses. A floor to ceiling projection screen provide moving backdrops in 3D quality. The futuristic sets and costumes are incredibly detailed and opulent. Every time the scrim is brought down for video clips, you can be sure that it will eventually open to reveal another eye-popping set. Performers swing from ropes and bungee cords in between songs, sometimes for no apparent reason other than to impress.

But rather than being just empty spectacle, it has a cohesive plot that, while having some loopholes, is substantial enough to be more than just an excuse for song and dance (especially in comparison with the jukebox musicals that are making the rounds in productions and in movie form). A sci-fi fantasy with a semi-moralistic story, it brings to mind recent 3D movie blockbusters such as Avatar, with its otherworldly universe, good vs evil morality and apocalyptic premise. (though I have to say that I did not quite understand what happened at the ending, and that it seemed rather abrupt and forced.) Lim Kay-Siu makes a filmed appearance as The Emperor, a character not so different in look and function from the similarly named character of the Star Wars movies.

Bellepoque's 'Viva Verdi' in Review

it was a pleasant, chamber style presentation of Verdi's music. Two chairs, a coffee table, champagne bottles and glasses served as a simple set that nonetheless went a long way to allow the performers to act out their characters in addition to singing. The intimate setting of the Esplanade Recital Studio with its warm acoustics allowed the singers to perform naturally while letting listeners feel the natural resonance of their voices. Time flew by all of its intermission-less 70 minutes.

On the programme is a healthy dose of excerpts from La Traviata, as well as arias from Un ballo in maschera, Aida and Falstaff. Italian actress Alessandra Fel hosted with scripted mologues, drawing laughter by focusing on the high death count of Verdi's operas (firstly, here is an opera where the woman dies, next is another opera where the man dies. This will be followed by another opera where both man and woman dies.) One has to pay close attention to get past her accent, but her participation was fun and livened up the evening.

Of the cast, I thought that Shaun Lee essayed Alfredo's aria and act 1 det (Un di felice) really well. His sound is rich and full if a tad nasal, and allowed him the freedom to inhabit his character. Angela Cortez, a competition winning student at NAFA, sang Violetta's Act 1 duets (Brindisi and Un di felice). She has a pleasant, sweet voice with steady high notes. Sabrina Zuber, suffering (or perhaps aided) by a cold, sang Addio del passato in a fragile, childlike manner with unforced vulnerability. While legato was sacrificed for extra breaths, she was otherwise vocally sound, with pitch perfect soft high notes at the end (the second phrase was presented, something which I appreciate very much).

 I was most impressed with Satsuki Nagatome and William Lim's performances. Singing arias from Ballo and Aida, Satsuki's voice was firm with blazing high notes. More impressive was the genuine pathos that she summoned, whether pleading for forgiveness or seeking divine intervention. The more speech-like parts of her arias could use a little more resonance, but it was a fully committed performance that won

William matched her in the theatrical and musical stakes; the voice flowed with chocolaty smoothness with no hint of difficulty on high, and in arias from Traviata and Ballo, gave personal and sympathetic portrayals of his characters. Performing the aria of the lovelorn Fenton from Falstaff (apparently Verdi's most boring as nobody dies), Brendan Keefe Au sang beautifully with a lovely head resonance, charming the audience over with his winsome smile.

Throughout the evening, pianist Vincent Chen (apparently a last minute replacement for an ill-stricken colleague) played with lively colours and still sensitively supported the singers. I'm guessing that the cast of singers must feel assured and inspired with his playing.

The final number, a full-cast rendition of Va Pensiero, seemed like a last minute addition as it wasn't in the programme and some singers were holding scores. A conductor's hand would have helped to better shape the proceedings, as most of the composer's detailed dynamic markings went largely ignored. Still it was a slight blimp on an otherwise intimate evening, a new way to hear these favorite arias in chamber music form.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Interview with Reuben Lai and Vox Camerata Members

So I was planning to do an interview with Reuben Lai, known mostly as a professional tenor but also works as a choral conductor. He will be guest-conducting Vox Camerata's Christmas concert this coming Saturday 7 December (Saturday), featuring Poulenc's Four Christmas Motets followed by Britten's A Ceremony of Carols.

A true democratic leader, he wanted to have a few choral members chip in their thoughts too, so we included committee members Henry Lim and April Tan as well. Here's what we talked about:

LANXESS- SNYO Classic - 'Musical Inspirations' in Review

My friend and Basso Canaries colleague Andrew Xiao Chun-yuan attended the recent SNYO concert on 26 November 2013. Here are his thoughts:

The Singapore National Youth Orchestra did another spectacular concert under the Laxness SNYO Classic concert again.

This time round, it showcased Carl Maria Von Webber's operatic overture from Oberon, Carl Philipp Stamata's Viola Concerto and Johannes Brahms's Symphony No 1 in c minor. The conductor is guest conductor David Commanday from America and guest soloist Max Mandel from Canada.

The name Oberon, also spelled as Auberon is actually the King of Fairies. His origin dates back as far as the medieval era and he is made famous under the pen of William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this SNYO concert, the orchestra gave a commanding performance. In the Weber's operatic overture, the orchestra gave out wonderful colours and texture of the work especially the beautiful sound of the French horn when the music started.

The viola as a concerto instrument is rarely heard and the instrument started to gain its seat in the orchestra during the 18th century. Compared to the violin which is higher pitched and smaller in size and which has a brighter tone, it is no wonder the violin has more composers writing concertos for. Nevertheless, one can be awed by the viola too if you get the right person to play it. The guest soloist Max Mandel did an excellent job, showing what the viola really can do. The work consistts of three movements, the first in major key, the second in minor key and the last back to major key. In this work, the most interesting part came from the third movement where Max giving a cheeky note in his cadenza.

After the interval, came Brahms's Symphony No 1 in c minor. Regarding the story behind this great symphonic work, Brahms took a very long time to compose this symphony as he personally thought Beethoven as his idol in terms of symphonic work and he feared if he wrote one, it may become a failure or be compared with the great Beethoven himself.

Of my favourite symphonic works, this Brahms's Symphony No 1 is one of my favourites. On the note of how the orchestra fared, I must say the orchestra did a wonderful job especially the leader, Kow Xiu-Yi who played the principal violin solo in the last movement.

In short, it is two thumbs up for me and I must say that the SNYO lived up to the evening's premise of inspiring people through music.

Interview with LANXESS-SNYO Guest Conductor David Commanday

I had a short chat with Singapore National Youth Orchestra guest mentor and conductor David Commanday, discussing the growing influence of classical music in Asia, leading students vs full-timers and their concert on 26 November 2013 (yeah its over...)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

An Interview with Opera Siam Director Somtow Sucharitkul

I got to keep in touch with Opera Siam's maverick artistic director Somtow Sucharitkul, and discuss his upcoming production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. The production will star Jessica Chen and new Wagnerian Kyu Won-Han in the two lead roles.

To attract out-of-towners to Bangkok (as if we need any special reasons to visit), the team has also came up a special land tour package that includes hotel and gala reception. Here's more info:

Land Tour Package for The Flying Dutchman
Luxury Package
Hotel: Kempinski
2 premium tickets to the gala of THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (value 10,000 baht)
a glass of wine in the intermission
invitation to reception
2 nights of luxury hotel for a couple with breakfast (approx value 20,000 baht)
transportation to the performance
Total value of package approximately 40,000 baht
OUR PRICE: 22,000 baht
Comfort Package
Hotel: Rembrandt
All the same perks as luxury package except hotel:
Value of package - approximately 30,000 baht
OUR PRICE: 18,000 baht
Budget Package
Hotel Ibis
2 nights for 2 persons at budget hotel
other perks the same as other packages
Value of package - approximately 25,000 baht
OUR PRICE 15,500 baht

for further info, write to

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vox Camerata Presents Benjamin Britten's 'A Ceromony of Carols'

Choir Vox Camerata will present Benjamin Britten's complete A Ceromony of Carols and Poulenc's Four Christmas Motets among other works on 7 December 2013, featuring guest conductor Reuben Lai. Check out their Facebook Invite Page for more details as well as interesting videos about the composer:

re: mix Presents 'I Want to Break Free'

Chamber ensemble re: mix performs a crossover programme featuring transcriptions of Queen, Lady Gaga as well as 'serious' music by Beethoven and John Cage. Tickets available at SISTIC.

The Alphabet Series: M is for Marian Musings

The Sing Song Club presents a recital around the theme of the biblical Mary. Check out the brochure below for more information:

More info on the Events Page.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Opera Siam's 'World Opera Week'

Opera Siam
presents its fourth annual World Opera Week, featuring the Southeast Asian premiere of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Here's more information:

World Opera Week - Fourth Time Around

Approximately every 2-3 years, Bangkok Opera Foundation and its daughter organizations, Siam Philharmonic and Opera Siam, present a "World Opera Week." This year, we present 3 programmes between Dec 6-14, all of which expand the conventional ideas of "music theatre". This year we also commemorate the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner and the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Richard Wagner Circle of Bangkok, inaugurated by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

World Opera Week celebrates the Birthdayof H.M. the King this year in royal style, bringing the best of classic and contemporary culture to the Bangkok scene with both premium upscale events and free ones.

December 6: Lux in Tenebris - Bangkok Art and Culture Center (free) 7 pm.

advance booking strongly advised:

A stunning meditation in pictures, art and words about the life of Caravaggio, one of the most significant painters who pioneered the technique of chiaroscuro. The paintings will be brought to life by brilliant young dancer Kampanath Ruangkittivilas, last seen as Tabinshvehti, King of Pegu, in Somtow's highly successful SURIYOTHAI. Music directed by Jacopo Gianninoto. lyrics by S.P. Somtow, Nana Dakin narrator, and many others.

Dec 15 at 6:30 pm: Jeux3 by Philippe St Pierre

A little hors d'oeuvre before the performance of The Flying Dutchman will be the dance trio performing this work to the early avant-garde music of Somtow Sucharitkul - reconstructed from a rare 1979 audiotape.

Jeux explores the relationship between space and time: starting with a solo, then becoming a duet before ending up as a trio (jeux3), in an permanent oscillation and memory of what was and could have been. The dancers keep going from solos to duets to finally end up as a trio which could very well have no more future than the sum of its parts. As we are still alone in the deep space, encounters are short lived and the end comes as it started, in a perpetual circle of life and death.

Admission to Jeux3 is free.

Dec 15 at 7:30 pm - The Flying Dutchman - Southeast Asian premiere

tickets at 25% off until December 1 from Thai Ticket Major!

And all-star cast, veterans from the Bayreuth Festival and other top opera houses, comes together in Somtow Sucharitkul's startling new produciton of Wagner's ghost opera about damnation and redemption - and the sea. The opera receives an Asian twist.

For The Flying Dutchman tickets please contact Thai Ticket Major (02) 262-3456 or send an email to

For other events contact

English Play 'Bollywood Kee-Maa'

Bollywood fever seems to be hitting our arts scene; coming after the foreign dance spectacular of Merchants of Bollywood comes this locally produced English-language play by theatre company Evam Arts. Their play will run at the Alliance Francaise on 13 and 14 December 2013 (4pm and 8pm). Check out the trailer below, and don't forget to buy your tickets at SISTIC!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SLO 'Così fan Tutte' - 28 Feb, 1 and 3 March 2014 (Early-Bird Discounts)

Lots of things can be said about Mozart's opera about confused lovers, their cynical mentor and cunning maid, but I think readers of this blog will be most interested to know who's singing. So here goes:

Rachelle Gerodias (Soprano/Philippines) as Fiordiligi, a young lady in love with Guglielmo
Du Qin (Mezzo Soprano/China) as Dorabella, her sister, in love with Ferrando                
Ee‐Ping (Soprano/Singapore) as Despina, their maid
Ferrando (TBC), a young man in love with Dorabella
Byeong‐in Park (Baritone/South Korea) as Guglielmo, a young man in love with Fiordiligi
David Hibbard (Bass/Australia) as Don Alfonso, an old philosopher

Joshua Tan Kang Ming, Conductor
Tom Hawkes, director      
Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Here are the bios of the debutants:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Starlight Express in Review - 13 November 2013

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A family oriented show for both young and old. Premiered in 1984, the original production of Starlight Express won tremendous commercial success by having its cast perform on roller skates throughout in a specially built theatre, with ramps that reach into the audience. This touring production uses 3D graphics in place of the ramps, which are used to perform train races. it also featured a few new songs not in the original cast recording, and was closely supervised personally by Andrew Lloyd Webber and his team.

Visually, this production had the look and feel of an 80s rock concert, with loud outlandish costumes, gravity defying hair and strobe lights that reach far into the audience. Numerous times during the performance, the actors beckoned at the audience to "wave your arms in the air", clap along or shout certain words (typically reticent Singaporeans that we are, we just meekly clapped along). Musical styles run the gamut from 80s rock anthems and ballads to Louis Armstrong-like blues-jazz, Elvis, 60s girl-groups, hip-hop and disco.

For all his bel canto stylings of Phantom, one forgets that Andrew Lloyd Webber's early success was in using pop music styles in musicals, a breakthrough for its time, creating musicals that resemble rock concerts in certain moments. Of course, no one expects to take a plot about the love lives of toy trains seriously, and the different musical styles, greatly contrasting and neatly arranged into set pieces, sometimes come off almost as parodies of the styles they are imitating.

I have always expressed to whoever would listen that live theatre is really the most definitive 3D experience, no glasses nedded (and that live unamplified sound is the ultimate Dolby-Digital-Whatever). The 3D clips that showed the trains racing, while very well-produced, only highlighted what we are missing without the actors physically acting out the races. Nonetheless it did provide a change in aesthetics, and are nicely segued in with the live action.

Throughout the two hour show the cast skated and pulled off complicate choreography with professional ease. no fault can be placed on the high level of every performers' skill and commitment. While the plot is paper thin, it provides for a setting to present impressively well rehearsed song and dance routines (most of the cast have been involved with previous revivals). The cast's chemistry and rapport is airtight, with every dance move perfectly in sync, and every note sung in place and with character.

A sing-along medley of the show's songs served as an extended encore, a finale aimed at pleasing the audience one last time as well as have them humming the tunes as they leave. This is great theatrical experience for those looking for a rollin' good time.

More pictures available on our Facebook Group.

Find out how to get tickets at the Events Page!

FREE (but donations appreciated): Benefit Concert "Albert Tiu and Friends" for Typhoon Haiyan Relief

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A message from Yong Siew Toh Conservartory of Music piano associate professor and native Filipino Albert Tiu:

Dear friends,

I would like to invite you to a benefit concert Albert Tiu and Friends next Thursday, 21 November 2013, at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, in aid of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Organised in collaboration with Kris Foundation and with venue support from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, this concert will feature works by Schubert, Saint-Saens, Piazzolla and Joshua Pangilinan amongst others.

 I am grateful that my friends, YST colleagues and students have volunteered to perform with me during this occasion. This will not be a ticketed event. We will be accepting donations by cheque or cash at the door, the proceeds of which will be directed to the Singapore Red Cross Society and the Philippine Bayanihan Society (Singapore). In the wake of such massive destruction and devastation to the region of the Visayas that is my hometown, no amount is too small. Your presence and support will be much appreciated!

Admission is by registration - please email me at to indicate the number of seats you would like. Donation by cheque is preferred, made payable to "Singapore Red Cross Society". Please write "Red Cross Haiyan Relief" on the back of the cheque along with your name, contact number and address. I look forward to seeing you and thank you in advance for your support and kind donations.

Albert Tiu
Associate Professor of Piano
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FREE: Singapore Conference Hall Ensemble Series 2013/2014

The Singapore Conference Hall presents its inaugural festival to present homegrown community ensembles. Performances are held throughout the year. Best of all, its free! Here's more information from their press release:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lightseeker Media Preview

I was honoured to be invited to a special preview of Lightseeker, an original musical produced by Resorts World Sentosa.  Despite an overwhelmingly large cast of ang-mohs from the West End, this is a largely local production, principally led by Andrea Teo, the TV producer with the Midas touch (Phua Chu Kang and Under One Roof among her credits), with music by Dick Lee (arranged and orchestrated by Jonathan Lim and Bang Wenfu) and featuring Lim Kay Siu in a supporting role. 

EMI's Celebration of the Voice

November 2013 is EMI's month for celebrating all things vocal, with new releases by Julia Lezhneva and Philippe Jaroussky in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, a highlights CD of the Ring Cycle with Nina Stimme as Brunnhilde, and recital CDs from newcomers Marina Rebeka and Sabine Devieilhe. View trailers and find out more on their newsletter here:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Chat with Selena Tan

I spoke to Selena Tan on the phone at the end of a long day of rehearsals, choping a seat at the MBS foodcourt with only 15 minutes to the opening of the dance spectacular Merchants of Bollywood. Soon to appear in her own Deam Aademy's Ting Tong Belles, this one-woman dynamo's presence has graced our TV screens and theatre stage, is impresario of her own act and promoted many well-known personalities from the stage instead of TV. But instead of a diva-CEO persona, I had a rather pleasant conversation with a down-to-earth and straightforward person. Here's what we discussed:

Friday, November 8, 2013

LANXESS-Singapore National Youth Orchestra - Musical Inspirations - 26 Nov 2013

Conductor David Commanday and violinist Max Mandel will lead the Singapore National Youth Orchestra in a series of masterclasses and workshops, culminating in a public performance entitled Musical Inspirations on 26 November 2013 at the Esplanade Concert Hall. On the programme are works by Weber, Stamitz and Brahms.Check out the LANXESS-SNYO Facebook Fanpage for more information and to win tickets!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Synergy in Music - 1 Nov 2013

I was happy to be invited to this closed door concert on 1 November, presented by Russian energy company Gazprom. In order to cultivate diplomacy ties with Singapore, three talented young Russian musicians, violinist Alena Baeva, cellist Alexander Buzlov and clarinettist Valentin Uryupin, were flown in to perform concertos by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens and Weber, accompanied by young Singaporean musicians and our very own Darrell Ang.

Violinist Alena Baeva
Besides showing off their virtuosity, the three musicians also got to coach our young musicians in a few masterclasses. In addition to sponsoring this concert, Gazprom has also generously donated to Darrell Ang's Young Musicians' Foundation of Singapore and its resident orchestra (which performed here tonight). In partnership with Raffles Institution, it aims to help financially needy young Singaporean musicians with assistance for their studies.

Cellist Alexander Buzlov
The Mad Scene congratulates all performers and presenters for a job well done! Thanks for a lovely concert and providing more opportunities for our Singaporean musicians!

Clarinettist Valentin Uryupin

FreshAir FineArts Festival Singapore 2013

The Luxe Art Museum, located at 6 Handy Road near Dhoby Ghaut station, will be presenting free evenings of chamber music from 17 to 23 November as part of their FreshAir Fine Arts Festival. Part of the programme includes a song recital of Mozart, Schumann and Vaughan Williams by baritone Xiao Chunyuan, as well as Britten folksong arrangements presented by pianist Beatrice Lin and her singers.

Check out!evening-concerts/c7ze for more info.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Merchants of Bollywood in Review

With its English dialogue set among popular Bollywood tunes, The Merchants of Bollywood is a dance spectacular catered for non-Indians who ever wondered what the fuss about Bollywood movies is all about. Exciting traditional and contemporary dance numbers set to the latest tunes, intricate costumes made with buckets of sequins, beads and gold lamé and worn by dozens of hunks and babes, this is a production that goes all out to impress with razzle dazzle.

Much like a typical Bollywood movie, the leads make no pretense that they are miming to songs recorded by other singers. Between numbers there is a touching if predictable plot that traces the history of Bollywood movies, as told through the eyes of a grandfather and his grandaughter, the former a cultivator of traditional values through cinema, and the latter who keeps in trend with our amoralistic times in pursuit of commercial success.

While The Merchants of Bollywood was first seen in Singapore two years ago, it is now updated in many parts with the latest Bollywood hit songs, with brand new dance routines to go with it. This show is worth watching for the top quality of its dancing, its high production values, and its many attractive dancers!

Next up, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, opening next week!

More pictures on our Facebook Group

More information at

UPDATE: Hawk interviews leading lady Carol Furtado on the MBS stage!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Merchants of Bollywood Showcase at MBS

I was fortunate to have been invited to attend an impromptu showcase of the upcoming Merchant of Bollywood performances at MBS Hotel Lobby 1. Although the duration was short (about 10 minutes), the energy put up by the cast was tremendous. Check out my photos and videos of the event, and get tickets for the full performance running from 5 to 10 November to see more!