Monday, September 16, 2013

PsalmiDeo – 'Psalmu’t Sari' - 14 September 2013


The lights dim, a row of singers cupping (battery-operated) tea candles come offstage from the wings and line up both sides of the auditorium. A handful of singers stand in darkness at stage rear. They imitate the rustling sounds of a forest. A single spotlight shines on a lone female soloist who begins the solo part of the soulful Silence My Soul (composed by Rabindrah Tagore Francisco Feliciano).

And so the concert by  PsalmiDeo, the choir of Filipino expats, began with this quiet, atmospheric presentation. After simple introductions by host Timothy Go (yeah, the newscaster from CNA), the choir resume their regular formation: members from each vocal category mixed together for a more integrated sound, presenting their programme entirely memorised and mostly performed without piano accompaniment, occasionally augmented by traditional and Western percussion instruments.



Which just goes to show how well-prepared the ensemble is, a fact also exemplified by the ease which they delivered tight harmonies, rapport with their conductor and an understated yet palpable stage presence. Visuals are minimal but effective: a single picture that represents the theme of each song: a dove flapping its wings, the roof of a Gothic church, village children at play and so on.

Neither was the programme a walk in the park: throughout their set of religious numbers in English, Latin and Tagalog, folksongs from different regions of the Philippines and a capella arrangements of TV theme songs, the team proved to be musical chameleons in adapting to different styles. Complicated, percussive rhythms and contemporary harmonies were handled with practiced ease. My favourite numbers are the aforementioned opening number, the polyphonic Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, John Rutter’s Look at the World, the percussive folksong arrangements and Leroy Anderson’s humourous Syncopated Clock, featuring a ringing and rather intrusive solo on the triangle.


A medley of theme songs from Big Bang Theory, Greatest American Hero, Dawson’s Creek, The Golden Girls and Friends plus One Day More ended the evening. After a whole evening of blending in, I thought the soloists’ voices did not stand out enough to achieve a good balance (perhaps electronic amplification can be considered for future projects). One Day More, tasking the best singers in the ensemble to assume the many solo roles, ironically resulted in a reduced choral sound that was less than full-force, even if the soloists' voices stood out better this time round. Still it was a rousing finale that engaged the audience with a different take on familiar tunes.

A short presentation of flowers was offered to the Phillipine Ambassador to Singapore Ms. Minda Calaguuian-Cruz, followed by an encore of two songs. Overall the concert was an artistic triumph for everyone involved, one that adds extra credits to the Philippine's cultural and diplomacy efforts.


4 comments:

  1. Silence my Soul was composed by Francisco Feliciano, words by Rabindranath Tagore

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  2. You are right, just checked the programme. Thanks for the correction!

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  3. the strangest of all is no one called encore and they presented encore songs automatically

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  4. Your comment is strange, Navi. Our row was clearly shouting "More! More!" even while people gave them a standing ovation after "One Day More". I could hear the other people in other rows shouting as well. So I don't get why you say "they presented encore songs automatically".

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