Second Singapore International Festival of Music features talent from 'world's best chamber orchestra'

The Chamber Orchestra Of Europe at the Lucerne Summer Festival 2014. PHOTO: PRISKA KETTERER

The fledgling Singapore International Festival of Music spreads its wings wider for its second edition this October.

From Oct 13 to 30, more than 20 free and ticketed performances and workshops will feature Singapore musicians alongside soloists from the storied Chamber Orchestra of Europe - hailed by BBC music reviewers as the "world's best chamber orchestra" - and hip string ensemble 1B1 from Norway.

The festival curated by well-known conductor Darrell Ang and violinist Loh Jun Hong began last year in partnership with The Arts House, with six concerts played in different rooms of the former Parliament building.

This year has multiple concerts and workshops at The Arts House, the National Gallery Singapore and Victoria Concert Hall, divided into the ticketed Chamber Series and free Festival Fringe performances.

Tickets are priced from $32 to $72 for individual performances, with discounts for viewers seeking admission to multiple shows. The festival costs about $300,000 according to festival organisers.

Ms Lee Chor Lin, chief executive officer of Arts House Limited, the company behind The Arts House and also the Singapore International Festival of Arts, says she thoroughly enjoyed last year's inaugural music festival and hopes to see a third edition next year at The Arts House. She adds: "This year, it has grown into a more diverse festival with exciting offerings that will really change people's minds about classical music."

Ang, 36, says: "We intend to promote and identify the cream of the crop of classical musicians in Singapore, the young ones not in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the ones who have gone overseas. We want to harness their talent and present classical music in Singapore at a very high level."

The theme this year is Myths And Legends. In one of two opening concerts on Oct 13, members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe join the Festival Orchestra under artistic director Ang's baton to play music from Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.

Ukrainian violinist Aleksey Semenenko, 23, a silver medallist last year at the top-ranked Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition plays a pre-concert show that day, in keeping with Ang's idea of showcasing young talent. The Festival Orchestra too features young professionals not with the SSO.

The next day, 1B1 plays Vivaldi's famous music from The Four Seasons, with four young string players from Singapore aged 10 to 16.

A pre-concert performance at Victoria Concert Hall will feature Singapore Lyric Opera's honorary artistic director Nancy Yuen accompanied by the festival orchestra in Senta's Ballad from Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander.

Russian soprano Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, also 23 and a guest soloist at the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater in Vladivostok, gives a vocal recital on Oct 15 with famed Chinese bass-baritone Ao Li.

On Oct 16, Chinese ensemble Ding Yi Music Company joins Vietnam's Song Hong Chamber Music at Victoria Concert Hall for an evening featuring commissioned works by Ang and 20something Singaporean composer Phang Kok Jun, among others.

From Singapore, there is dance and music company The Bhumi Collective, a seven-man team of master's students aged 30 or younger. The collective this month showcases an original production Bhumi (Soil) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Bhumi Collective brings elements of traditional Malay dance and music to contemporary works and is working with 26-year-old composer Syafiqah 'Adha Sallehin on the 40-minute original work Ikan Girl (Fish Girl), which will be performed on Oct 21 and 23.


The dance-music showcase is based on a Malay folk tale similar to Snow White, about a beautiful girl targeted by a jealous queen. The project is a first for Syafiqah, who graduated last year with a master's in composition from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Of Music.

She says: "It's an unbelievable thing to happen to me. I'm so excited about working with The Bhumi Collective. This will be my longest work and also my first full work with another art form."

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