Two Concerts

How often does one get to enjoy two fabulous free concerts within 48 hours in the Art District? Well, I did!

On Wednesday, I got to watch the Singapore Symphony Orchestra perform at the Victoria Concert Hall:

The programme was an exciting one; the pieces chosen were extremely colourfully orchestrated in different styles. The Ravel piece (Mother Goose) featured children’s fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb and Beauty and the Beast; the music is exotic, especially from the harp and contrabassoon.

The Adagio in G minor and two movements (Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King) of Peer Gynt (Grieg) are familiar tunes, often heard in movies, television and even advertisements. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol is a Russian piece with Spanish influence which showcased many individual instruments as soloists; most notably, the flute, clarinet, oboe, violin and harp.

Today, I attended a Piano performance at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Seven pianists played pieces by Scarlatti (Sonata in D Major, K.96 & Sonata in D minor, K.141), Schubert (Sonata No.13 in A Major, 1st movement), Muczynski (Toccata Op. 15), Beethoven (Sonata in E Major, Op. 109), Schumann (Bunte Blatter, Op. 99, Movements I & II) and Chopin (Etude n F minor, Op.25 No.2 and Sonata in B minor, Op.58 1st movement). I was most impressed with the Chopin Sonata. I expect the performance of the complete sonata at his Senior Recital next month would be even better. I wonder if he would also play it at the Piano Extravaganza in June.

Let It Be Me: The Hits of Everly Brothers with Peter Chua

The moment I stepped into the Esplanade Recital Studio, I was startled to see no piano! Uh-oh, that means there will not be a pianist (in particular, one known as Mr Octopus) today, though there’s a small keyboard at one corner.

The moment Peter Chua appeared, he declared that he’d been waiting for fifty years for this show! I think he was referring to the Everly Brothers, because his last performance at the same venue was less than a year ago. (Creedance Clearwater Revival) I noted that his bandsmen were all different. The first song on the list was Birddog. Then came 17 other songs, including Hopelessly Devoted To You, Crying In The Rain, Walk Right Back, When Will I Be Loved and Wake Up Little Susie.

Two songs which brought nostalgia were All I Have To Do Is Dream and Try A Little Kindness; the first reminded me of an ex-student leader and choir member (now a top financial consultant who once dabbled with singing professionally) who won a school talentime with this song, and the latter reminded me of my time in another school which decided to use this song for the Courtesy Campaign month because I had taught this in my music class.

One pleasant surprise at the show was Peter Chua’s youngest son, Anthony. They sang Let It Be Me and Bye Bye Love together. I was really impressed by Anthony; definitely more so than his older brother (also named Peter) who sang a Glen Campbell number with his father a dozen years ago.

Peter Chua’s parting words were that he’d bring his daughter to sing in next year’s show; even making it a family affair. Well, I’m definitely looking forward to it! But, first, I’m waiting for the next show to commence…

When I left the library@esplanade, I saw many people streaming towards the Recital Studio. It was only 2.15 pm yet there was a long queue. In 15 mins, the venue was already 80% filled. No wonder another show is added at 7.30pm.

Not only was the audience more enthusiastic (albeit missing voluntary dancers), the band and singers were too! Almost the entire set list was duplicated, but they all sounded better. Perhaps it’s because I was in a better seat, perhaps the vocal cords were more open; the banter was definitely more lively, corresponding with their gait. I was even more impressed by Anthony this time; he definitely has the potential to turn professional. The only thing I missed was a real piano, even if it’s not the usual Steinway at the venue. The keyboard player could have better showcased his dexterity. (He reminded me of a pianist nicknamed Sexy Fingers.)

An additional treat was the very enthusiastic requests for an encore. The audience was clearly delighted at getting three (all Elvis Presley numbers); except for Blue Suede Shoes sung like the original, Peter Chua came up with his own lyrics for the other two (one in the Teochew dialect that I’m not fluent in, but I think loosely translates to mean Day By Day, sung to the tune of My Teddy Bear, and the other with humorous lyrics about “No More” to the tune of La Paloma).

The patron seated next to me was surprised that I’d attended both the morning and afternoon shows today, and that I’d been a fan since 1976 (the year Peter Chua took part in his first Talentime. He also took part in 1978 and 1980, hence gaining the monika Mr Talentime).

I eagerly anticipate the next Peter Chua concert, hopefully within the year!

The Fighter



Co-produced by Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter is a 2010 movie based on a true story of struggling boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) trying to live up to his older brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Against all odds, the two brothers come together to train for a historic title bout that has the power to reunite their fractured family and give them pride. Their explosive relationship threatens to take them both down, but the bond of blood may be their only chance for redemption.

I’m not into boxing, or most other sports, so I did not bother going to the cinema to watch this. However, I did enjoy the story and the acting which is very convincing, even from the supporting cast (including Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and the real Micky Ward).

There are several footage of the actual fights between Eklund and the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard (eg in Massachusetts in 1978 and 1993), which lend credibility to the story. The music – from Bee Gees’ I Started a Joke to the numerous percussive tracks by Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and original soundtracks – add to the intended mood and atmosphere. The fights are well choreographed (though I must admit I fast-forwarded some of them because I’m not into boxing), especially those between Ward and his opponents at various venues. The trainers and stunt doubles did a great job, so did the people in charge of the special and visual effects to make the scenes authentic.

This is a story of a family that has been through a lot. It is rather powerful and dramatic – the love between two brothers, the adversity they face, overcoming odds and redemption.