More than 15,000 people turned up for a day of festivities at The Straits Times Concert in the Gardens yesterday, which ended in an hour-long musical treat.
The annual event at the Singapore Botanic Gardens was bigger and better this year, with the addition of a mini carnival leading up to the free evening concert by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).
Braving the the 32 deg C heat, visitors at the day-long carnival enjoyed activities such as having their pictures taken by the paper's photojournalists and printed onto a front page template, or their sketches drawn by the newspaper's artists.
Carnival goers could also buy books published by the Straits Times Press and mingle with some of the authors at meet-and-greet sessions. They included ST executive editor Sumiko Tan, ST Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun and ST heritage and community correspondent Melody Zaccheus.
Ice cream, cakes, croissants and salted egg snacks from food and beverage outlets curated by the ST Food team were among the items sold at booths at the mini carnival.
SPH Radio station Kiss92 also did a live broadcast, taking listeners through the highlights of the event.
Canon provided printers and photo paper for the ST Photo and Art booths, and F&N sponsored 5,000 bottles of Ice Mountain, sparkling lemon and grapefruit drinks. The event was also supported by the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
As day turned into evening, music filled the air as the SSO, conducted by its acclaimed music director Lan Shui, played family favourites such as Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and Home by Singapore singer-songwriter Dick Lee. Attendees sat on the lawn and listened, some with pets in tow.
One of the most famous Russian orchestral showpieces, Pictures At An Exhibition, was also performed with narration by Singapore Symphony Group chief executive Chng Hak-Peng, bringing to life Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's visit to an art gallery.
Even before the showcase concert started at 6.15pm, the lawn in front of the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage was packed with attendees sitting on picnic mats or lying on the grass. Latecomers crowded on the fringe of the green as the music began.
Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "It was a lovely day out at the Botanic Gardens. We were glad so many of our readers could join us for the carnival through the day and also for the concert in the evening. We thank them all for their strong support.
"The SSO played brilliantly under maestro Lan and rounded off the evening with a moving rendition of Home, which was fitting just ahead of our National Day."
The ST Concert in the Gardens is part of SPH's Gift of Music series, which is now in its 13th year.
Business consultant Edwin Chua, 64, was at the concert with his family, drinking wine and enjoying the music. "It was a fun family day at the Gardens," he said. "It was especially nice ending the day with good music and great company."