Today’s Beautiful Sunday concert, an Esplanade Presents Programme, was very well-received. The house was full a quarter of an hour before the concert commenced, and people who arrived only 15 minutes earlier had to be ushered to the gallery seats. As this is a family-friendly concert, and today is the first weekend of the school holidays, there were many children in the audience. I was seated next to a family of six – the four children aged around 3, 8, 12 and 15. Surprisingly, the most well-behaved was the 3-year-old, next to his 15-year-0ld sister. The group of housewives behind me were chattering away in Hokkien/Teochew dialect about their dinner plans and gossiping about other things.
Audioimage Wind Enssemble (AWE) is the resident band of the Siglap South Community Centre, set up in 1992 with help from the government and the People’s Association to facilitate ex-band members who wish to continue making music after they’ve left school. These volunteer musicians rehearse every Saturday evening and perform publicly 4-5 times a year. This year marks the 25th anniversary of community music, an achievement indeed. And this afternoon’s programme was very well thought-out.
The band began with some of the best hits of The Beatles, the most influential band of the rock era. The medley of 12 songs include classics like Something, It’s A Hard Day’s Night, He’s Got A Ticket To Ride, Yesterday, Strawberry Fields, Here, There and Everywhere and Eleanor Rigby.
I was pleasantly surprised that AWE included the symphonies (Nos 40 & 41) by W. A. Mozart! I wonder how many in the audience realised that the Taiwanese girl band S.H.E. pilfered the theme of ‘Jupiter’ into one of their songs.
The solo saxaphonist was outstanding during the Teresa Teng classic, The Moon Represents My Heart. Many in the audience must have enjoyed the selection of Malay and Japanese music; Geylang Sepaku Geylang, Dayung Sampan & Lengang Kangkong and Japanese tunes made popular by singers who cover them in Cantonese/Mandarin.
The much-awaited groovy Absolute ABBA was next. The medley of the Swedish pop group’s hits include Dancing Queen, Super Duper, Gimme Gimme, Voulez-vouz, Take A Chance On Me, Mamma Mia and Waterloo.
There is also a medley of Earth, Wind and Fire‘s songs, none of which I’m familiar with, except that I recognise a few phrases that remind me of the music for Just For Laugh Gags on TV.
Then came the climax. The band struck up strains of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York without a conductor for a few bars; then the stage door opened, and the conductor (Mohd Rahzul) strutted in with jazzy dance steps to loud cheers. The music continued seamlessly to Frank Valli and The Four Seasons’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, an all-time favourite. The piece ended with New York, New York. I really enjoyed this arrangement.
The encore piece was a medley of Queen’s songs, including We Will Rock You and YMCA, Frank Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, a Japanese tune (used in the Gatsby advertisement on TV) and a dozen other iconic tunes from the ’70s.
AWE was given a standing ovation, loud calls and long applause, which they deserved.