I had never heard of Austin Butler before this but after watching this movie, even if he doesn’t become an A-lister, I’ll always remember him as Elvis Presley’s (EP) 16th cousin twice removed.

I have always loved watching biopics, and what’s more, I love listening to EP songs and I love Tom Hanks (TH) (who plays EP’s manager and should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor).

Besides TH, the best part of the movie is the music. I lost count of how many songs there were in total (perhaps three dozen) and I still wish there were more, but this is really unrealistic expectation.

This biopic is also a cautionary tale about the predatory power of media and the uncontrollable force of fandom.

This brilliant masterpiece must be experienced by all, whether they are EP fans or not. The cinematography is top notch. The set decoration and costume design, sound and special effects, make up and film editing are remarkable. The music is of course timeless. (EP’s contribution and influence in music is THAT important.)

Some of the more memorable songs (that are still going on in my head right now) include Blue Suede Shoes, Fever, Hound Dog, Heartbreak Hotel, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Jailhouse Rock, Suspicious Minds, Unchained Melody and In The Ghetto.

Some beautiful lines from EP: “A Reverend once told me, when things are too difficult to say, sing.”; “I just gotta be making the most of this thing while I can. This could be over in a flash.“; “I’m going to be 40 soon and nobody is going to remember me.”

Alex Su Concert

Tonight was the first time I attended a concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall since COVID-19 and I really enjoyed myself.

I first came across Dr Su when he took part in the final edition of the Chinese Talentime organised by the national TV station in 1991 (where he emerged first runner up). I’ve seen him perform at concerts sporadically over the years and bought his (one and only) CD as soon as it was out (in 2011). I love his soothing voice.

Dr Su, a senior consultant at the Institute of Mental Health (as well as Vice Chairman, Medical Board/Clinical Quality and Chief, Recovery Centre), sang a total of 19 songs, of which only two were in English (Child by Freddie Aguilera and Vincent by Don McLean). All were perfectly executed. In between songs he shared many interesting and personal experiences and insights.

There was no intermission for the audience during the two-and-a-half hour concert but Dr Su himself had an intermission of perhaps half an hour during which the organisers, the husband-and-wife team of Cai Yiren and Chen Guixia took to the stage with six songs and lots of antidotes.

The concert ended with all three leading the audience in mass singing a local composition, Moonlight in the City (城里的月光)with the composer Chen Jia Ming and original singer Mavis Hee in the audience.

I wish the concert had been longer (or Dr Su had sung another six or seven songs more – to ‘balance’ his two halves of the concert) but that is really unrealistic and expecting too much!

Shaun Choo at SIPF

My e-ticket.

There were only six (or seven) senior-concession tickets left when I went to a SISTIC outlet to purchase a ticket on the second day tickets went on sale! The concert was soon completely sold out. Shaun should definitely come back to perform more often!

I have not attended a piano recital at the Victoria Concert Hall since COVID-19. I’m not sure if it’s because the acoustics is better (than Singapore Conference Hall) or because it’s a Steinway but this was definitely a much much better experience than the one I attended last month.

The programme (there were 3 encores, including his excellent Rondo Fashionisto)

I don’t have enough words to describe the wonderful concert. Maybe The Straits Times will publish one next week. I can only say I thoroughly enjoyed the performance: it was absolutely amazing, brilliant, beautiful, and fantastic. I’m in awe of Shaun’s talent and virtuosity.

I first encountered Shaun as a teenager, and have witnessed his progress over the years. (For example, his interpretation of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne is simply glorious and more mature compared to when I first heard him play it more than a decade ago.)

I eagerly anticipate his next recital (hopefully not another 7.8 years)!

Dawn and Sublimation: Haiou Zhang Piano Recital

For the first time since even before the pandemic, I attended a piano recital at the Singapore Conference Hall!

So much has changed: first, there’s no physical ticket. After checking in with the Trace Together token, the usher simply scanned the e-ticket sent to my handphone earlier. Second, there’s no printed programme booklet. Since my very basic phone does not have a scanning feature, I hoped I would be able to recognise the pieces.

The graceful and charming traditional Chinese piece, Liuyang River, served as the appetizer. Then the main course came after a longer-than-expected lull: an intimate 2nd movt (Largo) from Bach’s Trio Sonata No 5, the serene and beautiful aria ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’ from his Hunt Cantata , and the animated, brilliant, dramatic and exhilarating Waldstein Sonata by Beethoven.

After a 15-min intermission came the explosive and rhythmic Beethoven Sonata Op 111. Zhang’s execution of the contrasting 2nd movement is poetic as well as impressive (especially the elaborate figurations and shimmering trills).

The thunderous applause earned the audience two lovely encores, including Bach’s Prelude in C Major ( Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1 No1). Like a delectable dessert to end a satisfying evening.

Colorful Desserts Jigsaw Puzzle

I was so excited when a friend offered to pass round a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that I went to collect it immediately.

The setting up and beginning stage took me half an hour.
After a short break, this took me about two hours.
After a long lunch, I spent close to five hours before I decided to call it a day.
Yay! Completed in an hour after breakfast.

Had so much fun!

*2nd attempt: 12 May 2022 (5.5hrs)