I Hate Music! and Always Singing

6 Sep 2021, 8pm | I Hate Music: Songs for Big and Little People | Esplanade Recital Studio

Song Recital with Rebecca Reavley (Soprano) and Pamela Krakauer (Piano)

12 Sep 2021, 4.30pm and 8pm | Always Singing | Esplanade Recital Studio

Concert with Raffles Singers, dir. Toh Ban Sheng, including world premieres of works by Jonathan Shin and Randall Stroope

Three concerts in a week – what was I thinking!! I got to the end of it Sunday night and slept very well.

That said, it was a joy and privilege to be performing in these times. It also reminded me what a beautiful venue The Recital Studio is.

Rebecca and Pam are such fantastic collaborators – hopefully we’ll be working again soon! I found myself taking more liberties than usual with some of the songs, especially The Green-eyed Dragon, and Pam gamely kept up! Really enjoyed that.

Always Singing was lovely for the very fact that we were singing in a group of 20! Lovely premieres of Z Randall Stroope The Five Faces of Kronos and Jonathan Shin’s If Only For A Moment.

It was also cool to get to emcee the RS gig – I still prefer doing concerts without having to speak too much (just because there’s less to think about), but speaking to the audience in all three of these concerts added a layer of personality and intimacy that I think resonates well with audiences.

Pics/vids below!

Schumann’s Frühlingslied from Mädchenlieder Op. 103

Alcina with The Opera People

20 & 22 Aug 2021 Melisso in Handel’s Alcina W!LD RICE Theatre | The Opera People and Red Dot Baroque

A brief note: I’ve been writing here because I want to keep a little record of the thoughts that I’ve had when doing these shows and concerts. More than the music (as important as that is), for me these performances are about the relationships and friendships that form along the way, and this is a way for me to take stock of that.

Wow, where do I begin! It’s been a long and rough road to getting this production to the stage – Covid threatened the possibility of our live shows once again, and we rehearsed most nights Monday to Saturday for 2 months to put this challenging abstract staging of Alcina together. And I can safely say I have never done this many full runs of an opera leading up to the shows (I think I estimate about 15 full runs?).

And BOY did it sparkle and come alive in the shows.

I’ve said all I’ve wanted to say to the cast directly – but in short they were PHENOMENAL colleagues and friends, and I really can’t wait to work with them again. All of them taught me something new and special, and getting to know them has been the highlight of this process.

It was also so special that my parents got to see me in an opera for the first time (!) – my shows have always been overseas so this was a rare opportunity. My wife, as always, has been my absolute rock. That she was there at yesterday’s show gave me an extra boost of strength and calm. And it’s been a huge opportunity to learn to trust God BY trusting my body, and that meant not judging every single thing that I do or questioning if I should have made different decisions. Instead it means “living our character’s truth” as Shou Chen so often reminded us – staying confidently in character and reacting on stage. There was a level of focus and healthy detachment from my ego that I felt during this run and I’m grateful to have explored that.

I can’t emphasise enough how much I enjoyed working with Shou Chen and Alan – wonderful artists with real vision and poise. So blessed to have been led by them.

And finally, I must say I absolutely LOVED the Wild Rice Theatre – though on the dry side from stage, it’s an incredibly beautiful, thoughtfully laid out space. We all felt like we could create something special there and that, for me, is the real soul and value of a space. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to perform on this lovely stage.

To end, as always, some production pics to remember Alcina by:

And a brief glimpse into my “map” for making sure I didn’t miss entries or forget my mask:

And finally, some other photos from the process:

Oh, and as to whether I keep my beard.. I’ve had some thoughts:

  1. My wife loves it
  2. It is a pain to maintain
  3. Part of me really wants to know what it looks like in 2 more months (FYI it’s taken 2 months to grow to this stage)
  4. Part of me wants to shave it all off and be done with it

So yep, I guess I’ll wait and see. Let me know if you have any strong opinions!

Be Comforted Now: Bach Cantatas

16 May 2021, 5pm

Victoria Concert Hall

Solo Bach Cantatas with Joyce Lee Tung and Red Dot Baroque
pic

When the new restrictions came into effect on 16 May weekend, it meant that the concert had to be cancelled. We were all looking forward very much to performing to a live audience.

But there is a silver lining – we managed to record the concert for digital release, and it will be available to watch from 5-20 June – click here for tickets and you can watch the video on demand (I believe it costs $15). Huge thanks to Shridar Mani and Singapore International Festival of Arts for making this happen. Till next time!!

Morimur: Bach’s Secret Epitaph

It was such a privilege to be part of the first choral concert in the Esplanade Concert Hall since the pandemic began, and no better programme to begin with than with Bach!

I realised that if I don’t write about these concerts I forget about them in the long run, so I’m attempting to be a bit more disciplined about it.

I must say one of the greatest joys was getting to know my fellow musicians – apart from Brenda this was the first time I met the others. Looking forward to future projects together!

The greatest challenge? Making this music (that was intended for churches and small venues) work in an EXTRA LARGE venue. Voices disperse easily in a space like the Concert Hall, and with us having to be 2 metres apart on stage, hearing each other well was a real challenge. And it was a fine balance singing out fully so that we could be heard, but also making sure we could still hear everyone else. No easy task! But it was nice having enough time in the venue to get used to the sensation of singing, and we scheduled ample rehearsal time in general so that really helped. Was so pleased that we were able to make music, and to be singing the most meaningful words on Good Friday.

As always, some pictures to remember the occasion:

Home for Christmas

I had a blast working on a cosy programme of Christmas music yesterday with old RCM friends Shimona and Jinhong, and new friends Wei En and Reuben! The video is still available below (or here if you want to watch it on YouTube):

Really glad that SO MANY people watched it and loved it – what a wonderful thing to be able to do with modern technology (though it doesn’t replace the real thing of course!) Looking forward to deeper friendships and more music-making in the year ahead.

Special thanks to Shimona’s parents for opening up their home so graciously!

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Shimona Rose Soprano

Wei En Chan Countertenor

Reuben Lai Tenor

John Lee Bass

Low Jinhong Piano

Weill’s The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken

I’ve had a great time working with the cast and crew of UCL Culture’s production of Kurt Weill’s very rarely performed The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken which we performed on Saturday at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Lovely to meet new friends and make some (incredibly difficult) music together!

A great preview from The Guardian can be found here.

And here are some pics for the memories!

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Messiah with Voces8 / Apollo5 / Voces8 Scholars / Academy of Ancient Music

5 Dec 2018, 7.30pm, Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge

 

Had a FANTASTIC time last night.

Things of note from the evening:

(1) This Messiah includes some of the briskest tempi I’ve ever heard (let alone sung), which gave it an energy and clarity that I enjoyed.

(2) The AAM sounded absolutely beautiful. It was such a joy to sing with them, and Barney really inspired all of us to perform as a unit.

(3) The Facebook comments on the live stream were seriously entertaining. (I read them after the performance, not during, if anyone was wondering!) It made for a great train journey back to London after.

(4) Absolute hero Pete Norris rushed down to Cambridge after his audition at the RCM in time for the second half. Much respect to him for making it down!

(5) The texts in Messiah really hit me last night – it wasn’t easy to swallow some of it, especially when singing about Jesus’ suffering (“and with his stripes we are healed”). Knowing that his “yoke is easy and burden is light” when it doesn’t always feel that way was also really challenging. But what a testimony that Jesus came to suffer as a human being (“Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead”) – he had to, and he did. And what a joy that he was WORTHY to be slain and to give us his righteousness. I was challenged and encouraged in equal measure; it was quite an experience. I’m still processing a lot of it. Praise God that he speaks to us with words and music right into our souls.

For now, it’s quick gig with Untune the Sky on Saturday and then back to Singapore for Christmas to see family and friends – it’s really special looking back on a really great year of challenges, growth and music making. I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring.

Genesis Sixteen applications are open!

Katie and I were interviewed at our final Genesis course a number of months ago and here’s the result – I had a FANTASTIC time throughout and if you’re a choral singer this is an exceptional opportunity! Harry and Eamonn are the loveliest people (and top-notch musicians of course), and we had really great guest conductors in our time too (Jamie Burton Tanglewood Festival Chorus / BSO and Justin Doyle RIAS Kammerchor).

But the friendships – that’s the really special stuff. I still see my Genesis friends quite a bit and it always brightens my day when I do. It’s so hard to figure out what it means to be a singer but it’s so much easier with a lovely cohort of friends who share the same artistic/technical struggles and convictions! I feel really blessed to have them in my life.

To apply, click here.

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Inverness + Aberdeen

It’s the final project with the St Martin’s Voices Fellows (8th of 8) – time really flies! We’ve had such varied experiences including the Greenbelt Festival, Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the Southbank Sinfonia, bread and butter gigs at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and now a short Scotland tour.

It’s so sad to say goodbye to these guys but it’s been so great to get to know everyone and make music together. Oh and we had a smashing game of Articulate last night too (; Till next time!!

In Inverness before our Great Sacred Music concert at Ness Bank Church. L to R: Jack, Gabby, Nathan, Vic, Helena, Chris (and special mention to Sid and Hugh who couldn’t be with us – missing you guys!)

BREMF 2018

Monteverdi Il ballo delle ingrate

6-8 Nov 2018, The Old Market, Brighton

BREMF 1

I had the most amazing time performing with Lauren Lodge-Campbell, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Ed Jowle, Hannah Ely, Kimon Barakos, Bethany Partridge, Trolley (Richard Robbins) and many others. Was left incredibly inspired by director Tom Guthrie and musical director Deborah Roberts, drummer Pete Flood, violinist Olly Webber and the whole host of early instrumentalists (including the great recorder duo Flauti d’echo!). Incredibly grateful to Claire Williams (harpsichord) and James Bramley (chittarone) for being such sensitive, solid musicians to work with on a score as complex as this one.

But perhaps the biggest inspiration was the dancers of Streetfunk and choreographer JP Omari. So blessed to be in the presence of youthful energy and artistic greatness!

Something tells me this isn’t the last time we’ll be working together.

Excellent reviews here and here. Click here to access the programme.

And of course, some epic pics:

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p.s. The cap was Tom’s idea – absolute stroke of genius!