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Concert review: Philharmonic Winds' Fun With Music! combines children's party and variety show

Published on Apr 7, 2014 12:04 PM

It is in the interest of arts groups in Singapore today to do regular outreach programmes in order to build an audience for tomorrow. Fun With Music! on Sunday at the Esplanade Concert Hall was such a concert by The Philharmonic Winds, one which combined the attractions of a children's party, television variety show, and the Hoffnung Festival of music. Although listed to be 70 minutes in length, this one overshot its mark by almost an hour.

It began with a classic: Malcolm Arnold's A Grand Grand Overture, its four celebrity soloists working three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher. Comedic timing was required of Angeline Wee, Lim Lip Hua and Yap Yoke Lim on the hoovers and Dennis Sim on the waxer, especially regarding when to press the on and off buttons, as directed by conductor Leonard Tan.

The ensuing racket was enough to send the ironic master of ceremonies William Ledbetter to pull out his hair, until the realisation that he was as bald as a cueball. On a more serious note, this concert served to introduce young audiences to the different instruments of a wind orchestra - namely the woodwinds, brass, percussion and one solitary double bass.

That was done eloquently in David Maslanka's Alex And The Phantom Band, which was narrated by Kamini Ramachandran, about a boy who entered an imaginary world of band instruments during a time warp at 13 o'clock. More relaxed and less stuffy than Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, the ensemble conjured up a fairy-tale atmosphere with sensitive and well-characterised playing.

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