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Concert Review: Piquant orchestral sounds from The Philharmonic Orchestra

Published on Jun 15, 2014 12:56 PM

While most orchestras in Singapore, professional or otherwise, are intent on pursuing performances of blockbuster repertoire works, The Philharmonic Orchestra has bucked the trend.

Its latest concert, conducted by its music director Lim Yau, was a well thought-out and imaginative programme of contemporary Asian works, including two by Singaporean composers.

Unsurprisingly, the concert hall at the School of the Arts was far from filled on June 14, but the audience were treated to some of the most piquant orchestral sounds thought possible. Arguably the most familiar work was the late Leong Yoon Pin's Dayong Sampan Overture (1980). Despite hearing it for the umpteenth time, there is much that sounds fresh in a spirited performance as this.

Cast in the form of a short symphonic poem, Leong introduces much original material before the well-loved Malay melody is first heard on the oboe played by Veda Lin Wei. It is a magical and nostalgic moment, and the piece is developed in the manner American composers Ives or Copland might have done, before the four-note motif appears for the last time for a rousing close. If the Singapore Symphony Orchestra had to choose a local work for the BBC Proms to represent the nation, this would be it.

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