Packed halls greeted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) on its tour of Europe the past week, as it performed the works of classical music greats. The orchestra also gave audiences a taste of what Singapore has to offer, with a piece by home-grown composer Chen Zhangyi.
The five-city tour kicked off in Berlin on May 23, where it played at the famed Berliner Philharmonie. Dignitaries such as Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere, Minister-President of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich and Singapore's Ambassador to Germany Jai Sohan were among the 1,500-strong audience.
Under the baton of its music director Shui Lan, the orchestra's performance of German composer Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59: Suite "earned loud cheers and wolf whistles from the thrilled audience", says Mr Chng Hak-Peng, chief executive officer of Singapore Symphonia Company Limited, which runs the orchestra.
Principal clarinet Ma Yue says presenting Strauss' piece made the experience even more special as "we are playing a German work to the German audience".
"I think we rose to the challenge and gave a very convincing interpretation, judging from the warm response."
The first show also marked the European premiere of 31-year-old Chen's An Ethereal Symphony, which was commissioned for the tour.
The piece, which explores the idea of cosmic motion, harks back to his memory of his late grandfather, a former fisherman from a kampung in Punggol.
The SSO's tour takes it to cities that are steeped in classical music: Prague in the Czech Republic, which it revisits after 28 years; and Berlin, Munich, Dresden - where it played in the majestic Dresden Frauenkirche, a restored church built in the 18th century - and Mannheim in Germany, where it last performed in 2010.
It wraps up its tour tonight, with a final concert in Mannheim's historic Mozart Hall, where the orchestra will share the stage with acclaimed American violinist Gil Shaham.