Jazz meets classical music as Jeremy Monteiro revels with Ravel

The concert will feature six of Jeremy Monteiro's compositions, and will be opened by home-grown chamber music orchestra re:Sound. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Jazz meets classical this month, as Singapore jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro takes the stage with home-grown chamber music orchestra re:Sound.

For Monteiro, 61, the Tapestry concert is a way for him "to bring improvisation back to orchestral music in Singapore".

The Cultural Medallion recipient says that while improvisation is one of the hallmarks of jazz, it was also a major part of classical music in the past, where improvisations on the theme of a piece were common.

The tradition gradually faded as notated scores became increasingly common, and musicians followed rather than improvised upon existing variations of a piece.

The concert on Jan 22 will feature six of Monteiro's compositions, as well as a piece by American jazz legend John Coltrane. The concert will be opened by re:Sound with two movements of the Ravel String Quartet, arranged for string orchestras.

Maurice Ravel was a key classical music composer of the early 20th century. But re:Sound chairman Mervin Beng observes that the French composer was also "fascinated by jazz, which he heard in Parisian bars, and jazz influence can be heard in some of his later works".

Monteiro, who is also trained in classical music, recalls that a writer in Hong Kong once described his style as "a mix of Ravel and the blues". He adds: "It's very true because I am very attracted to French Impressionistic harmony, for example, the works of Ravel and (Claude) Debussy."

One of the original works he will be performing is a piece composed from scratch during a Facebook Live show.

"It was very fun - the Facebook Live audience was responding to my prompts, telling me, for example, where to add a piccolo tune or timpani," he says. "When I completed the composition, it sounded very much like a dedication to Mozart, who is another one of my favourite composers."

The concert is part of his five-year plan to "catalyse the symphonic jazz movement in Singapore".

Monteiro, who openly declares his dislike for the labels constantly slapped on music, says: "We're calling the concert Tapestry because we're trying to weave jazz and classical music into a seamless tapestry. At the end of the day, it's just music to me, especially as a classically trained music student who went on to become a professional jazz musician."

While he left orchestral music behind to pursue jazz in 1991, he has been "hearing a siren call" to return to orchestral composition for the last seven to eight years.

It is only now, as he celebrates his 45th anniversary as a musician, that he has chosen to heed that call. "I needed to wait until I had the musical sensibilities to execute my plans at a level that matched my abilities in jazz."

Book it


Where: Singapore Conference Hall, 7 Shenton Way
When: Jan 22, 4.30 and 8.15pm
Admission: $38 to $68 from Sistic

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