Thursday, May 01, 2008

`Voices in the Wind' at the residence of the German Ambassador

It was truly an unforgettable experience and I had a fantastic time at the Residence of the German Ambassador on the last night of April!

The occasion? Well, it's in the title of the post.

`Voices' of course represents the choir I'm in – Cantus Musicus; while `wind' denotes the Encounter High Winds ensemble that consists of 11 young and talented musicians.

So yeah, we – the choir, teaming up with the ensemble of winds and brass instrumentalists, presented a concert at HSchubert and Beethoven to name a few.

Being a newbie to the five-year-old choir, it was my first proper concert of sort. Yes, earlier we sang for Easter presentation `Thorns and Roses' at St. Andrew's church but this is something else to me. (Since I had been singing in church all the is Excellency Herbert D. Jess' residence to his guests of about 200.

It was a concert that classical music lovers would love - with selection of such rich and well-loved compositions from maestros such as Wagner, Schumann, Haydn, while but never in an ambassador's house!) :p

But such occasion is not new to Cantus Musicus which had performed at the residences of the German and Austrian ambassadors and the British High Commissioner, and even in front of our Prime Minister as well.

Since it's a concert hosted by the German Ambassador this time, we had an all German repertoire. And for someone like me who didn't know a word of German and had never sung in German (except one piece for Thorns and Roses), it was really tough! It didn't help some of the pieces were extremely challenging musically as well.. But hey, finally I was able to sing through although the pronunciations can do with corrections...

The opening song for the choir is Treulich Gefuhrt (from Wagner's Lohengrin), more familiarly known as the Wedding March. And for this we had to walk in all the way from the back of the audience, with all kinds of accessories and props – flowers for the ladies, funny hats, bows and spears.

Personally I like the very challenging but `Stimmt an die Saiten (from Haydn's Die Schopfung ie. The Creation) and the melodic lieder Da Unten Im Tale by Brahms. Another one is Schumann's tribute to the Gypsies Zigeunerleben that is full of vigour and life. All together, we presented nine pieces, including two featuring small groups.

So how did it go? Well, I would say like `Thorns and Roses' (I won't know about the previous ones of course), singers of Cantus Musicus again rose to the occasion! You see, we had quite a bit of things that needed to be ironed out even till the very last rehearsal. But thankfully, everyone put in their utter best and even our our choral director Lisa Ho (who co-founded the choir), who's normally pretty strict and has high expectation of us, was full of praise for us after our concert!

With no intention to butter her up (i just found out Lisa also reads my blog!) I must say that the success of our performance has a lot to do with her direction and coaching. I believe a good instructor is only able produce good student... so, much credit must be given to Lisa, who not has great musicality but the drive and discipline to spur us on.

Anyway, back to the night. The concert lasted close to two hours – with the first half dedicated to the ensemble, including a very interesting piece with narration called `How the Crocodile Got Its Teeth', which is inspired by the Orang Asli community.

After the last light-hearted piece `Rasa Sayang' followed by photograph posing, it was finally `party' time – well, what else would you call it when there was free-flowing drinks (read alcohol) and finger food.

As some of the choir members have performed at the residence before, they knew where to stand where they could be the first to `ambush' the waiters carrying the tray of yummy Hors d'œuvre walking out from the kitchen through the large dining room.

For me, it was a time to get to know more of my choir mates! Sad to say, although it has been four months already since I joined them, I only knew just a handful of others and they are limited to my fellow first sopranos – reason being we sit close together in the same places.
Being so bad with names, I had to embarrass myself to ask for some of their names again although I had previously been briefly introduced to them. I also got to know a couple of them better - translating from just faces to names (hopefully!) and even their backgrounds!

I also bumped into an old friend - or rather a former college mate's dad - the multi-faceted Antares (who wrote that crocodile poem), and through him, got to meet Saidah Rastam the famed music composer - who turned out to be a sweet and soft-spoken person.

Sipping free drinks and munching on variety of bite-size Hors d'œuvreis were already a pleasure by itself, and little bit of alcohol effect sank in giving a more merry feel!

But I left quite early - 11pm so that I was able to catch American Idol on tv! (yeah, definitely not drunk at all) :p

It was so fun - the singing and the socialising.. I hope we could do something like that again soon!

n.b. A Special thanks to my singer friend Janet who took those concert pix for me! :)

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