Sota musicians show promise


Orchestra of the Music Makers, Seow Yibin - conductor, Kwon Soo Yeon - flute, Joey Lau, Ronan Lim - violins, Ng Jia Ning - piano
School of the Arts Concert Hall/ Last Friday

In this year's concert by the Orchestra of the Music Makers in partnership with the School of the Arts under the baton of young conductor Seow Yibin, four talented Sota students were ably accompanied by the OMM, with the orchestra having a chance to stretch its legs in Dvorak's Symphony No. 8.

The brief first movement of Malcolm Arnold's Concerto No. 1 for Flute And Strings was perhaps not the best choice as an opening piece.

Its tricky opening section has solo flute and strings playing almost without metre (regular beat).

Fortunately, Korean-born flautist Kwon Soo Yeon held steady. She breezed through the technical demands of the piece, although the performance could have done with more expressiveness and freedom.

Violinist Joey Lau was more adventurous in the first movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and played with conviction.

She took more risks in her cadenza than the other soloists for the night - something to be appreciated from budding musicians, even at the cost of a few missed notes - leading to a breathless finale.

In Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, Seow brought out a well-balanced, rich sound from the orchestra.

The basses and viola sections proved highly capable and there was clean wind playing.

The symphony overflowed with memorable melodies and a strong showing heard from principal oboe, clarinet and trumpet, although there were times that flute and brass were over-eager.

Seow's conducting shows much promise and his attention to detail helped bring polish to the group of mostly young musicians.

Pianist Ng Jia Ning's performance of the first movement of Saint- Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2 was the most well-crafted of the evening.

From the imposing opening solo piano passage through the technical middle sections, Ng played with an admirable blend of sensitivity and musical understanding.

The final soloist Ronan Lim's performance of the opening movement of Sibelius' Violin Concerto was by some measure the most complete performance of the evening.

Playing with maturity beyond his years, he grabbed the audience's attention with his soulful opening notes and effortless virtuosity.

Seow and the orchestra seemed to relish this pairing with Lim and the result was a well-rounded performance, one that signals that we can look forward to greater things to come from this highly gifted violinist.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Sota musicians show promise'. Print Edition | Subscribe