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  • May Day concert at the IstanaMothers Day concert at the Botanic GardensBrittens War Requiem gets Singapore premiereJason Lai on the magic of film music


    Katia & Marielle Labque with the SSO

    The Quarterly Newsletter of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

    Bravissimo!JULY 2013 Vol. 14 No. 3 MICA (P) 050/07/2013

  • BraviSSimO! is published by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Printed by First Printers.No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.


    SSO News 03

    Conrad Celebrities: 08Jason Lai & Valeriy Sokolov

    Symphony Society 10

    Piano Festival & A Kitchen Symphony 14

    CD Reviews 15

    The Autograph Collector 16

    On the cover: The Labque Sisters looking resplendent after a dazzling performance of the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

    Photography by Collin Tan

    Editors: Cindy Lim Chang Tou Liang

    Writer: Joyce Tan

    EditorialThe SSOs 2012/13 season saw a good number of musical triumphs and successes, including the Singapore premiere of Benjamin Brittens War Requiem, a musical blockbuster played out by two orchestras, three soloists and a 200-strong combined chorus.

    As we embrace the start of the SSOs 2013/14 season, we bring you conversations with the young Russian violinist Valeriy Sokolov, and SSOs newly appointed Associate Conductor Jason Lai, who waxes lyrical on his soft spot for film music.

    Happy reading!

    CINDY [email protected]

    Conrad Celebrities 08

    Conrad Celebrities 09

    Symphony Society 10

    SSO News 05

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    Conductor Joshua Tan

    May Day at the IstanaConductor Joshua Tan and the SSO spent Labour Day with over 10,000 visitors at the Istana, giving an hour-long performance of familiar tunes such as Coplands Fanfare for the Common Man, Bernsteins Overture to Candide and Faurs Pavane, which was attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan. This event was made possible by the support of Singapore Press Holdings as part of the SPH Gift of Music series. !

    President Tony Tan waving to the audience

    Cheered by the music

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    Mothers Day concert


    Over 6,000 people showed up for the SSO Mothers Day Concert at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on May 12. The orchestra entertained the enthusiastic crowd with such familiar favourites as Laideronnette, Princess of the Pagodas from Ravels Mother Goose Suite, Dvor ks Songs My Mother Taught Me and The Moon Represents My Heart, featuring Alexander Souptel on solo violin. This concert was sponsored by the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation as part of its Music-For-All series.

    Conductor Joshua Tan

    Cheerful faces all around

    The SSOs Mothers Day Concert drew a huge crowd

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    Brittens War RequiemApril 5 marked the Singapore premiere of Benjamin Brittens monumental masterpiece, the War Requiem, as the SSO and Music Director Lan Shui joined orchestras worldwide in celebrating the composers birth centenary in 2013.

    Playing at the Esplanade Concert Hall to a full-capacity audience, the SSO was joined by soloists Elena Zelenskaya, Barry Banks and Detlef Roth, a 200-strong combined chorus which included guests from the Shanghai Opera House Chorus, and the Singapore Symphony Childrens Choir which was perched high up in the left wing on Circle 2. The chamber orchestra was directed by Lim Yau.

    Taking a bowBehind the scenes during the Open Rehearsal

    Sonic spectacular

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    Schools out, SSOs inThe SSO was joined by a special guest, piano virtuoso Stephen Hough, for its campus concerts at the School of the Arts and Victoria Junior College on May 22 and 23. Performing to a total audience of 1,200, conductor Darrell Ang led Hough and the orchestra in excerpts from Mussorgskys famous Pictures at an Exhibition, as well as two brilliant variations of the Paganini Caprice No. 24 Rachmaninovs Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Lutoslawskis Variations on a Theme by Paganini.

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    Paya Lebar Methodist Girls School (Secondary)

    School groups waiting for the doors to open at SOTA

    Victoria Junior College students posing for a picture with Stephen Hough

    Stephen Hough with the SSO at SOTA


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    Stephen Hough performing at Victoria Junior College

    New release: Goldmarks Rustic Wedding Symphony


    Mainly known today for his violin concerto, during his lifetime the Hungarian composer Karl Goldmark was praised for the quality of his instrumentation, his skilful use of folk music and his own Jewish heritage, and his evident gift for melody. Composed in 1875, his Rustic Wedding Symphony was his most popular orchestral work. The five-movement symphony has sometimes been described as a suite of tone poems, including a wedding march with variations depicting the wedding guests, a nuptial song and a bucolic wedding dance.

    Composed some ten years later, Goldmarks E-flat major Symphony, Op. 35, is less well-known. Although its form is more traditional than that of its predecessor, it is similar in mood bucolic and high-spirited and provides rich opportunities to sample Goldmarks skill as an orchestrator and musical colourist.

    Available from the SSO merchandise cart during concerts from August 2013.

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    Jason Lai will conduct the SSO Pops Concert: Lets Go To The Movies on August 16 at the Esplanade Concert Hall.


    Jason Lai was particularly fascinated by movies of the Sci-fi and documentary genre and recalls constructing a cinema out of Lego bricks when he was a child. The UK born-and-bred conductor recounts the wonderful and precious movie-going experience during his childhood: I was hooked the moment I caught E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, it was such a great experience the lights went down, the curtains opened, then the magic began, and I happily ate my popcorn and drank my soda! Such wonderful memories....

    Come August 16, Jason Lai, who is the SSOs Associate Conductor, will direct the very first SSO Pops Concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall, performing themes from science fiction films such as E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, Star Wars, blockbuster action flicks like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman, as well as Grammy award-winning music from Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan.

    A composer like John Williams is a genius, says Lai. Hes able to capture the essence of the film in very few notes and harmonies and it just fits the movie this takes considerable skill. An excellent example is the two-note motif for the shark in Jaws. Just two slow notes first. Then repeated. Faster. And faster....arghh the shark is coming!

    Having studied composition at Oxford University and been a finalist of the BBC Young Composers Award, Lai recalls the meticulous tasks of adequately comprehending the storyline and matching the music to far more specific moods and selected scenes in the movie, a far more tedious process than what many people may imagine it to be.

    Ive always been fascinated with film music and how it interacts with the visuals, and as a composer Ive tried writing music for movies. The composers job is very difficult as their music can help a movie or destroy it, they have to tread a very fine line between overpowering and underplaying the visuals, he reiterates.

    Lai feels that it is essential for any orchestra to have a varied diet of music as most great orchestras around the world play all kinds of music for various groups of audiences.

    You would be surprised how much film music is actually classical music or at least inspired by classical music. I think audiences love film music as it is quite accessible and there is always a story behind the music.

    Joyce Tan


    Hooked on film music

  • Conrad Centennial Singapore offers a choice of exciting wining and dining venues. Dine on contemporary Cantonese cuisine and innovative dim sum creations by top Hong Kong chefs at award - winning Golden Peony. Oscars offers delicious buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a delectable Amazing Graze Sunday brunch with free flow champagne, wine and beer. Oscars is open 24 hours. Or savour delightful afternoon tea and Executive lunch at Lobby Lounge.

    26-year-old Valeriy Sokolov has played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major many times, and made a recording of it in 2011 with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich under David Zinman for EMI/Virgin Classics. Yet he says he does not tire of the piece: The music of great composers, like Tchaikovsky, is always fresh and full of inspiration and beauty, as it is what we call great music.

    The Ukrainian violinist will make his Singapore debut playing this violin showpiece at the Esplanade Concert Hall on August 2. His other recordings include Enescus Sonata No. 3 with pianist Svetlana Kosenko as well as a DVD recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

    He says the music of yet another Russian composer holds a special place in his heart. Sergei Prokofiev and some of his music that was composed between the 1930s and 1940s are in some way my favourite, because the works were composed under a regime which imposed extreme restriction on free thinking and so the music itself is extremely strong and expressive.

    Of his busy schedule he flies to Barcelona and Santander in Spain for concerts after his Singapore stop Sokolov says: I

    enjoy it. However I spent some years finding the right balance of work and breaks in between. It is different with every musician.

    Indeed he balances rehearsals and practice sessions, which already take up many hours a day, with his favourite activities such as swimming, hiking and playing football. Every now and now he goes to Vienna to take lessons from his teacher to better his playing. He adds: Being passionate every time about the piece that you are about to play also helps in the musical sense as there is always a way to be better.

    Cindy Lim



    The beauty of Tchaikovsky

    Catch Valeriy Sokolov live with the SSO at the Esplanade Concert Hall on August 2.

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    Opera Paradiso raises $889,050 for SSO

    Over 300 distinguished guests joined President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra Benefit Dinner on April 20. Held at the John Jacob Ballroom of the St Regis Singapore, the dazzling black-tie fundraiser titled Opera Paradiso raised $889,050 for the SSO.

    Guests showed their support by bidding for the three items on the silent auction: a Piaget Altiplano Anniversary Edition timepiece, a Damiani white gold pendant with diamonds and a Daum Black and Chrome Collection Cheval Porteur de Feu. Making a sensational debut with the SSO and conductor Darrell Ang was star soprano Hayley Westenra, who showcased her angelic voice in favourite vocal showpieces including Whispers in a Dream, May It Be, Scarborough Fair, Cinema Paradiso, Amazing Grace and I Dreamed A Dream.

    Hayley Westenra

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    Ms Hayley Westenra, Mrs Mary Tan, President Tony Tan Keng Yam & Mr Darrell Ang

    Members of the SSO Ladies League with President Tony Tan & Mrs Mary Tan

    Mr Wee Ee Cheong & Mr Goh Yew Lin

    Mr Christopher Ho & Mrs Rosy Ho

    Darrell Ang with the SSO

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    Prof & Mrs Cham Tao Soon, Mr & Mrs Wee Ee Cheong & Mr & Mrs David Conner

    Mr Darrell Ang with Mr & Mrs Choo Chiau BengMr & Mrs Loh Chin Hua with Ms Wang Look Fung

    Mr & Mrs Julian Chang

    Ms Paige Parker, Mr Jim Rogers & Ms Susanna Kang

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    Mrs Laura Hwang & Mrs Dorothy Chan

    Mr & Mrs Samuel Benjamin

    Mr Foo Chen Loong & Mr Bobby Tonelli

    Mr & Mrs Alan Wang

    Mrs Odile Benjamin & Mr Douglas Benjamin

    Ms Donna Meyer & Mrs Clarinda Tjia-Dharmadi-Martin

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    Music and movement The 20th edition of the Singapore International Piano Festival showcased four prominent young pianists in recital at the School of the Arts Concert Hall from June 20 to 23. Opening the festival was Russian-born Yevgeny Sudbin, who dedicated one half of his recital to the music of Franz Liszt. Taking on Book I of Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier on June 21 was South African pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar. The third evening featured 20-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor in a programme which included colourful Spanish dances by Granados and the Arabesques Variations on the Blue Danube Waltz. Bringing the festival to a close was Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski in a programme featuring Schuberts 16 German Dances as well as the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor.

    Simon Trpceski Yevgeny Sudbin Daniel-Ben Pienaar


    Benjamin Grosvenor

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    A kitchen symphony SSO Co-Leader Lynnette Seah rolled up her sleeves to cook for over 25 Friends of the SSO at Rubato Modern Italian Trattoria on May 15. The cosy 5-course dinner included items such as grilled squid stuffed with mushroom risotto, roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup, roast beef in red wine and vegetable ragu and Lynnettes signature tiramisu.

    Lynnette with Mr & Mrs Mark Sim

    Lynnette at work in the kitchen

    the Autograph collector

    The latter half of Singapore Symphony Orchestras 2012-13 concert season

    will be remembered for the invasion of British glamour girls of the violin.

    They came, strutted their stuff, and conquered us all by their musicianship,

    virtuosity and personalities. They also graciously met with their fans post-

    concerto and the autograph lines were long.

    NICOLA BENEDETTIFirst up was Nicola Benedetti who performed Korngolds Violin Concerto on 1 & 2 February under the baton of Neeme Jrvi. Of the three female fiddlers, she has the most extroverted inscription, full of waves and curls, with two kisses thrown in for good measure.

    If you have any interesting autographs to share, please send a high-resolution scan and accompanying texts to: [email protected] Happy autograph hunting!

    CHLO HANSLIPFormer child prodigy Chlo Hanslips second visit to Singapore (her first was in 2009) saw her performing Elgars Violin Concerto on 10 May. She has the most modest of inscriptions of the three, signing off with a greeting and just Chloe. This CD sleeve was of her stunning debut recording on Warner Classics from 2001.

    JENNIFER PIKENot to be outdone was Jennifer Pike, who played Mozarts Violin Concerto No. 5 in a concert of Turkish-influenced delights on 13 April, led by Christopher Hogwood. The wide strokes and letterings were a reflection of her big tone and warm-hearted personality to be found in her playing.

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    WIN A COPY OF BRAHMS/ SCHUMANNBy answering the following questions:

    1. Of what nationality was the great violinist Joseph Joachim?

    2. Clara Schumann was how many years older than Johannes Brahms?

    Please send your answers with the title BraviSSimO! Quiz to: [email protected]

    Closing date: 31 August 2013The first three all-correct entries drawn on 1 September 2013 will be notified accordingly.

    CD of the Quarter

    BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto / Piano Concerto No. 3ARTHUR GRUMIAUX violin


    BBC Symphony / Concertgebouw / Colin Davis

    Decca 478 4027

    Recorded by Philips in the early 1970s, these are well-loved versions of Beethovens popular concertos that have stood the test of time. Stephen Bishop (as Kovacevich was then known) gives a fresh and youthful account of the C minor Third Piano Concerto, while the beautiful tone coaxed by Belgian master Arthur Grumiaux in the D major Violin Concerto is hard to beat.

    BIZET: Carmen Suite / LArlesienne SuitesOrchestre de lOpra Bastille / Myung-Whun Chung

    Deutsche Grammophon 478 4034

    Here is a selection of popular music in bite-sized movements from Frenchman Georges Bizet that are both melodious and memorable. His opera Carmen needs little introduction, and there are also eight movements from his incidental music to LArlesienne, concluding with the rip-roaring Farandole. As a bonus, the Suite from Jeux denfants (Childrens Games) has been included. Delightful stuff.

    BRAHMS: Hungarian DancesDVOK Slavonic DancesBudapest Festival Orchestra / Ivan Fischer

    Decca 478 4028

    Brahmss Hungarian Dances and Dvor ks Slavonic Dances were originally conceived for piano four hands. In their orchestral guises, these take on an added sheen and colour. This selection, 13 from Brahms and 8 from Dvor k, includes the most familiar numbers. The Hungarian forces perform with zest and vitality, much needed for these rustic and rambunctious showpieces.

    BRAHMS Violin ConcertoCLARA SCHUMANN: Romances


    Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann

    Deutsche Grammophon 479 0086

    Young Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili gives a lovely and sensitive account of Brahmss evergreen Violin Concerto in D major (Op. 77), which has the added attraction of Max Regers rarely-performed cadenza. Unlike the far more familiar Joachim cadenza, this one is partially accompanied by orchestra and has a prominent part for the timpani. The violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim was also the inspiration for Clara Schumanns Three Romances (Op. 22), which make a short but tuneful encore. This is a loving tribute to the platonic friendship of both composers.

    The answers to last issues quiz were:1. Daniel Hope performed Mendelssohns Violin Concerto in E minor (1844 version) at his SSO debut.2. TRUE. Gabriel Prokofiev is Sergei Prokofievs grandson.3. FALSE. Max Richter is no relation of Sviatoslav Richter.

    The winners were Lau Jay Min Jasmine, Chiang Chiew Hui and Leonard Slamat.