Young talents shine at annual President's Young Performers concert




Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Joshua Tan Kang Min, conductor, Clarence Lee, piano, Kimberly Lo, violin

Victoria Concert Hall/Thursday

Singapore's young musicians aspire to play at the prestigious annual President's Young Performers concert. Year after year, the concert features performers who will go on to greater heights, a testament to the talent on our shores.

This year's soloists, guided by associate conductor Joshua Tan, received their training at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts School of Young Talents.

Tan has forged a formidable reputation for highly charged interpretation of orchestral music and his energetic approach to Brahms' "Tragic" Overture Op. 81 enveloped the work in youthful exuberance.

The orchestra delivered with an exceptionally responsive performance and the rapid dialogues between the violins and celli had a fierce intensity. Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 In E-flat Major offers the pianist little to work with due to its sporadic switches between outright virtuosity and heartfelt tenderness. Despite this, pianist Clarence Lee gave an excellent account of this rhapsodic work.

The opening octaves were executed with conviction, aided by Lee's uncanny ability to deliver fortissimo passages with gentility. While Tan took utmost care to craft a lush canvas upon which Lee could display his technical abilities, the tempi were at times too deliberate and rigid. But in the rousing finale, both conductor and soloist were seen to excellent effect, tossing off the torrents of notes with wild abandon.

For violinist Kimberly Lo, 13, the level of understanding she displayed for the virtuosity and musicality required of Christian Sinding's Suite No. 1 In A Minor, Op. 10 could only be achieved with a keen mind. Her deftness of bow in the opening presto seemed other- worldly, which made the intensity of her tone shine in the Adagio.

And so it was back to Tan's turn to shine in Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. He seemed at ease with the French composer's idiom, taking care to transcend gimmicks and deliver a reading both delicate and innocent, without sounding juvenile.

It is a pity that this concert has been relatively poorly attended the past few years, for our young performers are more than capable of holding their own among international stars. If we are to demand more support from our local organisations for our local talents, it is time we showed the same level of commitment towards supporting them.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline Young talents shine at annual President's Young Performers concert. Subscribe