Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NAFA 75th Anniversary Concert

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Who knew that NAFA has been around for this long? Its actually been founded 2 decades and 7 years before our tiny island gained independence!  So a gala concert to celebrate is par for the course, with teachers, students and guest lecturers all taking the stage. Here's more information about the concert and  vocal soloists:


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In celebration of 75 years of arts education at NAFA, we will be organising a series of events this year. The Department of Music will kick off the celebrations on Friday, 12 April, 7.30pm with an East-meets-West concert at The Esplanade Concert Hall.

This rousing repertoire of Chinese and Western music reflects the musical vocabularies taught at the academy. The first half of the programme features the NAFA Chinese Orchestra and the second half will showcase the NAFA Orchestra and Chorus.

The NAFA Chinese Orchestra, directed by Quek Ling Kiong, will give the world premiere of “Blossoms”, a work specially commissioned for NAFA's 75th Anniversary by prominent composer Phoon Yew Tien (former Head of Department of Music at NAFA and Cultural Medallion recipient). The programme also includes "Pearls", composed by Senior Teaching Fellow Eric Watson.

The evening will end on a high note with the NAFA Orchestra and Chorus led by maestro Lim Yau in one of the best-known works of Western classical repertoire, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. This glorious work climaxes in the famous Ode to Joy and its message of universal friendship and brotherhood.

Also featured in the ninth symphony are three vocal soloists from NAFA’s degree partner, the Royal College of Music, London - soprano Janis Kelly, tenor Justin Lavender and baritone Roderick Earle, as well as NAFA's newly appointed Head of Vocal Studies, mezzo-soprano Jessica Chen. Attached are their profiles for your reference.

The three vocalists from London are all international stars in the opera scene who have performed widely with major operas and orchestras around the world. Recently relocated to Singapore from the US, Taiwan-born Jessica Chen is also no stranger to Singapore who has performed on several occasions with the Singapore Lyric Opera.

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So then here's an introduction to the four soloists:

Janis Kelly
Soprano
Vocal Professor, Royal College of Music, London

Widely recognized as one of the great singing actresses of her generation‚ Janis Kelly’s international career includes productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Royal Opera House, Luminato Festival Toronto, Opera North, Grange Park Opera, Toulouse Opera, Gran Teatre del Licieu and the Palais Garnier Paris. She has recorded with several labels, filmed operas with the BBC, Channel 4 and Granada as well as appeared movies The Life of David Gale and Match Point.

Kelly has been teaching singing alongside her performing career over the last decade and has been a vocal professor with the RCM for six years, grooming numerous talents who have gone on to win at national and international competitions. Herself a student of soprano Elisabeth Grümmer, Kelly is a recipient of the Anna Instone Prize, as well as scholarships from the Arts Council, the Countess of Munster Trust, Caird and the Royal Society of Arts.

Jessica Chen
Mezzo-Soprano
Head of Vocal Studies, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

A graduate of Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, Jessica Chen obtained her Masters from the University of North Texas, USA. She has performed widely around the world with orchestras in Asia
and the US. Relocating to Singapore from the US, she is no stranger to the Singapore audience. She had performed with the Singapore Lyric Opera in several of its productions including Leong Yoon Pin's Bunga Mawar and Britten's A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Over her 18-year-career, she has received various accolades for her performances, and was the first prize winner of the Asia Vocal Competition and the Malaysia International Vocal Competition in 2000.

(Ed: yeah who knew that the dramatic soprano who tackled our first-ever fully-staged Turandot has an alter-ego as a lyric mezzo? My Taiwanese classmates who were once her students were surprised to learn that she had sung Puccini's Chinese princess, not to mention Bruunhilde, in Southeast Asia!)

Justin Lavender
Tenor
Vocal Professor, Royal College of Music, London

Justin Lavender has sung leading tenor roles with most of the world’s major opera houses, including the Royal Opera House, the Vienna and Berlin State Operas and La Scala, Milan. He has a parallel concert career and many commercial recordings to his credit. Prominent among these is Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with the CBSO, which was the Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine. The late Alan Blyth wrote, “The best modern Gerontius, Justin Lavender surpasses all recent interpreters.” Justin has also performed Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in Mandarin using the original Tang Dynasty texts.

Lavender teaches at the Royal College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire, and is Vocal Consultant to the choral scholars of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and Honorary Professor of the Confucius Institute of North Carolina. He is recently appointed musical director of Bearwood Opera in Berkshire.

Roderick Earle
Baritone
Vocal Professor, Royal College of Music, London

Roderick Earle was born in Winchester and sang as a chorister in the cathedral there. After Cambridge (St. John’s College) and the Royal College of Music, he studied with Otakar Kraus.

In 1980 he made his debut with the Royal Opera as Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro and was then invited to join the company as a principal singer, a position he held for 21 years singing over 60 roles. With a wide experience of concert work and varied repertoire, he has sung opera and concerts all over the world, as far afield as Tokyo, Seoul, Auckland, Wellington, Adelaide and Buenos Aires. He has also appeared on many recordings and opera DVD's.

Earle has taught singing for the last 25 years in Cambridge, Colchester and London and is founder of The Colchester Chamber Choir.

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Find out how to get tickets at the Events Page!

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