Greatest Mando-pop Hits

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Today’s concert, Greatest Mando-pop Hits, was presented by the Cheng San Chinese Orchestra in collaboration with Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. I was surprised when the host announced that photography and videography were permitted for this concert.

The concert opened with a big bang, with a song very high in energy to give the concert hall very good vibes : One Night In Beijing, a popular rock number. Seated in the middle of the 15th row, I noted with interest that at least two (perhaps four) members were definitely non-Chinese, probably with Middle-Eastern (or maybe Indian) heritage, playing the yang qing and dizi.

This was followed by a medley of songs from the 90s, with a rousing introduction to songs like Roy Li’s Love Is Like The Currents and Dick Lee’s Chase. Then came a medley from the ‘King of Taiwanese variety shows’ titled Without Ceiling, which I listened to for the first time. Next up was a medley of about a dozen songs by the King of Ballads, Jackey Cheung, including Wait Till The Flowers Wilt and Goodbye Kiss.

At this point, the day’s special guest Tay Kexin came on to join the orchestra, singing her own composition (contained in her first EP released 5 years earlier) and A-mei’s Listen to the Sea. Tay is of petite stature but she has a powerful set of lungs; yet I felt a tad disappointed that even with the wonderful acoustics of the Esplanade Concert Hall, her rendition (given with 100% effort) was half that of A-mei’s at the Indoor Stadium with poor acoustics.

I did not know any of the songs in the medley of Taiwanese girl group S.H.E., but I recognised a familiar snippet from a Mozart symphony. And I recalled an ex-student asking me to confirm if it is the theme from No 40 called the Jupiter. If it is, then is it considered plagerism? A small surprise came towards the end of the medley when the leader, Ms Chen Wan Ting performed a rap to a song called The Chinese Language.

The final piece was a long one – a medley of 32 songs, including Fairy Tale, You Will Marry Me Tomorrow, How Can I Not Be Sad, Some Sorrow, Goodbye Kiss, Listen to the Sea and Too Silly. I felt putting 32 songs together was a bit too ambitious and not all of them were given equal treatment, in the sense that some tunes lasted for only a phrase (perhaps 8 bars or so), though I must give credit to the arranger who ensured the tunes blend together seamlessly.

As expected, there was an encore where Tay appeared again to sing with the orchestra. The number is a current favourite, Let Me Be Myself, but was new to me.

All in all, I must say the concert was good value for money, especially for senior citizens who enjoyed a 50% discount. Also, perhaps because it was a ticketed event, the audience was exemplary. Even though permission was given for photography and videography (in fact, the audience was encouraged to post these on Instagram or Facebook), I counted only 5 who took out their cameras discreetly to take photos. If only the audience at the free performances could behave just as well!

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