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Concert review: Orchestra of the Music Makers takes flight with The Planets

Published on Aug 14, 2014 10:20 AM

One thing is for certain: the Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM) just loves doing big concerts. Its latest outing at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Wednesday, guest-conducted by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's associate conductor Joshua Kangming Tan, had not just an orchestral blockbuster, but a full-length concerto and choral work for good measure.

The concert began with Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, joined by 100 voices from the Vocal Associates Festival Chorus and Children's Chorus singing in Hebrew. The sheer exuberance of the percussion almost drowned out the singers in the jazzy and syncopated first psalm (Make A Joyful Noise), but it got better in the second psalm (The Lord Is My Shepherd) when boy soprano Samuel Yuen's silky voice rang out pure and true. The final psalm (Lord, Lord), with its contrite message, was a salving balm for the spirit.

The orchestra then played sensitive partner to SSO first violinist Chan Yoong Han in Jean Sibelius's Violin Concerto In D Minor. How the ensemble responded to the fiery and virtuosic solo part was a measure of how its young players have matured with each concert. The slow second movement gave the woodwinds moments to shine, and the quartet of French horns were a paradigm of perfect control and restraint.

Even in the rambunctious finale, the very steady yet exhilarating pace maintained by the orchestra allowed Chan's flight of fancy to soar unabated to its brilliant conclusion. His encore, a movement from Ysaye's Fifth Sonata, was an ethereal portrayal of a nascent morn.

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