Monday, October 24, 2005

Greetings to all, here's an update on the ALTERNATIVES CONCERT on
Saturday, 22nd October 2005, 4pm at Young Musician's Society Auditorium from the pianist's perspective

I was the accompanist for this 70-minute vocal recital where 4 soloists sang arias from operas, right from the baroque period to 20th century, and also some songs from musical theatre. The concept was refreshing, as there was not just singing, but some mime, a little acting, blocking, "multi-media" and "black-and-white projection" (big paper cards) and bantering. It was not the usual stiff-upper-lip sort of recital, but was done in a rather informal and light-hearted setting.

Accompanying for this recital has taken many long hours of rehearsals to just get timing and coordination right between right and left hand, pianist and singer, breathing and pedalling. The scores are so NOT easy to play. Some of them require 3 hands or 12-15 fingers (yes of course it's humanly impossible!!) because it was not written specifically for the piano per se but is actually a reduction from an orchestral score, so it was totally unsympathetic to the pianist =P But anyway, I managed all the scary songs (i.e. those with a lot of sharps, jumps bigger than an octave, countless changes in tonality and of course difficult singers.)

Things were looking up during our final rehearsal, and guess what? I had to screw up majorly on the actual performance! Fie on't! Ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden. Things rank and grose in nature, possess it merely that it should come to this!
And to make it worse, I screwed up a part where the piano is completely exposed with no singing to mask my playing because I was ending the song with an unusually long piano part. I don't know what I was thinking, but I must have zoned out in the middle of it and I played all the wrong notes and went into a different tonality (it was a baroque piece, so no unconventional key changes) and it sounded like it was going to modulate and I panicked. Die, how to end the piece? I tried to think of something, but in the end I gave up and just ended on an A which was abso-f*cking-lutely uncool. The thing is, it has never happened in rehearsals and it is not one of my scary songs. It was so shitty shit shit shit shit! Anyway, the audience seemed to be forgiving because it's quite an informal thing. However, having said that, I more than redeemed myself in the following few songs, especially the Strauss, which was a beast! And I am so proud of myself.

Anyway, the concert has its brilliant moments. Some songs were really 'on' while others were just very er... wrong. Everybody had a little slip here and there but there were no colossal damage. And even if the singer makes a mistake, skipped a beat or missed an entry, it can always be covered up by the pianist who plays flexibly to suit them, and adapts to their idiosyncracies and irregular pulse, nobody gets hurt. But NOT vice versa! (-pouts)

Oh well, thus concludes this scary episode of mis-adventure. Tune in next time to the AD-VEN-TURES of the Maaan Behind the Ivories... ries... ries... ries... (echo)!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

White Ribbon Campaign
Tuesday, 18 October 2005
Serangoon Garden Secondary School

The heat and humidity almost killed me. I was melting in my jacket. There was supposedly air-con but it leaked majorly, and had to be turned off. Anyhow, the choir looked sharp in their new costumes and the whole line-up (choir-pianist-conductor) looked professional. This ought to show the school what a real choir should look like and that choir is not just any CCA, it's a performing ART.

The sound system wasn't fantastic, but thanks to the boom mics which picked up the choir sufficiently, they don't sound bad. In fact the audience and principal were impressed. That's good enough for me, for now, HAHA, but I expect higher standards. They can do it. They are capable of sounding better in rehearsal, so concluded by Ms Koh and myself. However many factors work against us in the real performance, 1st it's in an unearthly early hour in the morning, voices are not at their tip-top warmed up state. 2nd, the piano is slightly out of tune, and the positioning of the mics were different from rehearsal day and the piano could hardly be heard, and that i suppose, had freaked the choir out a little. 3rdly, singing before an audience itself is nerve-wrecking and having not performed frequent enough to acquire the calmness of stage presence, the choir end up looking a bit stiff and scared. So the moral of the story is to go out and perform as much as possible coz the more you do it, the better you get.

There are few good things worth mentioning. The blend was good, phrasing has improved, intonation wasn't too bad, if not for the lok kok piano (Joel complained that keys got stuck and each song got harder and harder to play, sigh). Now, the choir needs to develop their resonance and work on dynamic display. It somehow lacked a bit of lustre and expressiveness. But the overall rating was satisfactory.

Jia You choir, I think if you continue to develop from where you are now, silver is not a problem for you in the next syf. =)


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

proudly presents

It's going to be a night of movie magic come Saturday, 5 Nov 2005. That's when Key Elements, a six-member a cappella group, will present Jazz at the Movies at the Victoria Concert Hall, starting at 7.30pm.

Co-presented by YMCA of Singapore and supported by National Arts Council, the concert will see Key Elements singing songs from the movies - from mega-hits like Pretty Woman (Fallen) to more obscure comedies like Earth Girls are Easy (Route 66) - all in jazz-inflected vocal arrangements, all done a cappella, of course.

Formed in 2001, Key Elements started off doing small gigs and progressed to doing shows at the University Cultural Centre and the Esplanade. Jazz at the Movies is the group's effort to take its music one step further. The group was inspired to present a full concert after coming in second in the vocal band section of the fourth Taiwan Choral Ensemble Competition in October last year. Incidentally, Key Elements member Jason Ong won a prize for Best Arrangement at the competition for an upbeat version of 'Accentuate the Positive', which will be included in the concert. Once again, the concert details are as follows:

5 November 2005
Victoria Concert Hall
7:30 P.M.
Tickets $35*, $25*, $15* (student concession) are available at
YMCA of Singapore
1 Orchard Road
Tel: 6430 2288
You may also contact Vaughan Tan on 9338 7298 to order your tickets.
(*Please note that ticket prices are subject to 5% GST)

original arrangements by
Jason Ong & Benedict Goh

Do Re Mi (The Sound of Music)
Spiderman Theme (Spiderman)
Beyond The Sea (Finding Nemo)
Fly Me To The Moon (Down With Love)
Route 66 (Earth Girls Are Easy)
Fallen (Pretty Woman)

So make a date with Key Elements and come share in an evening filled with smooth grooves and electrifying entertainment for young and old. For more details, please visit the following website:

Thank you and hope to see you there!

Best regards,

Monday, October 10, 2005


This entry will be short, as opposed to the last one. I'm dead tired. Had 3 days of retreat with KE, in preparation for our concert on 5th November. Checked in on Fri afternoon at the YWCA Fort Canning Lodge, then for the weekend it was non-stop singing and choreography work, save for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The schedule was really punishing and when i arrive at home on Sunday night, i was completed wasted. Then we had recording tonight for Do-Re-Mi, last song of the album. Finished at 11+, got home and going to crash. Tomorrow night is our regular rehearsal, this time with mics. It's amazing how I survive. I think I'm falling sick again. SIGH..Need to go, bye.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Sawadi Carp! I'm back from Bangkok. The trip was a blast. We had an absolutely smashing time - great company, great food, great laughs and great shopping :)
For your long awaited update, here are some of the highlights of the Bangkok trip:

Day 1 (Arrival at Bangkok)
'Twas raining cats and dogs at our arrival, luckily our agent has arranged for a minibus to pick us up at the airport and send us straight to Arnoma Hotel. It was 9 plus pm local time. Reached the hotel at about 10ish, rained has slowed to a drizzle and almost nothing. First thing we did after unloading was to pick up a few drinks and tid-bits from 7-eleven and after we had bathed and settled in, we all congregated at room 1020 for our midnight gossip.

Day 2
Breakfast at Buttercup (not Tiffanys' unfortunately), in the hotel, part of the package. They had a pretty large selection of food from chinese to continental style. I had servings of omelette and scrambled eggs and stewed beef and sausages and bacon and fried noodles and orange juice and tea. (You get the picture)

We did a tour of the royal palace next. First took the BTS (equivalent of our MRT)to some jetty and then a boat down the river to the royal palace. The palace was elaborately decked with gold, everywhere was littered with gold from the walls to the pillars and ceilings. And if some speck of gold dust would just come off from the roof top we would be rich. HAH...

After the royal palace tour was, you guessed it, LUNCH. We went to MBK food court. Don't think that it's only a food court, the food there is gorgeous. Some of the guys had shark fin's soup without shark fins (haha, joke of day) but tastes nice. I ordered a curry chicken rice, was not bad, J had the paht thai (fried glass noodles). And the highlight of the day was the sticky rice with mango was mmmmmmmm.... divine! And did I mention that it was also cheap? T brought back 3 servings, of which he had the lion's share of course. Lunch was more than satisfying. Having filled our stomachs to the brim, we embarked on our long awaited retail therapy. The place was just packed with shops. Think Far East, except twice the size and trice the density of tenants. That's how packed it is. And really, you need quite a lot of stamina to go through all of them. Was quite a challenge.

Anyway after an afternoon of exertion in the mall, we rewarded ourselves to swenson's ice cream, and an evening of traditional Thai massage in a Sauna. The ambience of the place was amazingly good, it's like a world of its own, a little retreat outside of the menacing city life. This is my first massage ever, it was really an eye-opener, and a very amazing experience. Well I think I would go back for more.

Dinner was at Silom complex, took a tuk tuk (think of the James Bond Ad) there. We had red and green curry, sweet and sour fish, tom yam soup and vege. And we polished off everything on the plate. The plan was to have dinner and then go for a cabaret performance but the heavy rain thwarted our plan and to end off the day, we congregated at Room 1016 of evening gossip this time.

Day 3
Breakfast at Buttercup as per the previous day. This time we had the usual omelette and scrambled eggs and chicken and fried rice. Again, ate till very full. After which we continued on our retail therapy part 2. But before that, T wanted to free birds for good luck (think of Richard Gere but less dramatic), so we made a trip to the famous four-faced buddha shrine to make the offering. Then we walked to our lunch destination, that took us a while, we had a good lunch in a local restaurant. The interior decor was humble, it looked probably like it's frozen in a timezone which is in the 70s, but the dishes were so delicious. Then we spent the rest of the time shopping. We went back to MBK centre and then J and I walked across to Discovery Centre and we saw lots of fabulous and cute stuffs for the home and gifts. The ideas people can come up with for little things like a floor mat and table lamp was amazing. Again, we rewarded ourselves to swenson's ice-cream after finishing with our shopping.

A few of us went back to our hotel to just rot while others continued to their massage parlour for more self indulgence.

We then had a fantastic dinner at Sukothai hotel, a luxurious haven which commands an exorbitant fee of about US$600 for just a one-night stay there. The restaurant is Celadon (if i remember it correctly) and again we had top-knotch Thai cuisine. The tom yam soup was clear but it's so spicy u can burn your tongue. We also ordered a red and a green curry, tofu, and fried fish. The service was remarkable and the ambience was heavenly. It makes a fantastic retreat or a honeymoon destination.

Of course we did not stop at dinner, the fun had only just begun. We made our way down to Pawan for a cabaret show. The show was really amazing, and roaringly funny, not becoz it's a comedy, but because some parts of it was so cheezy and so bad that it's actually funny. The thing looked like some primary school assembly programme thingy with very bad choreo and lousy effects and cheapo props and really wrong music. But that was not really the point. The point was not to showcase talent in the artistic way but another kind of talent. You go figure what talent it is =P

After the cabaret, the lot of us went shopping again down pat pong night market. It's like nothing you'll find in Singapore. Think of pasar malam, but only 10-20 times more elaborate and busier, which lots of tourist lots of variety of stuffs.
To end off the day, we did our midnight gossip (which has since became a ritual), this time in room 1022.

Day 4 (Last day)
We were so shacked out over the last 2 nights we totally skipped breakfast because we overslept. The day was pretty slack as we had done all the major shopping and visited the places we wanted to visit and done the stuffs we wanted to do. So we had a leisure walk to Starbucks for our coffee and did a bit of shopping at Isetan. All of which are within a 1km radius from our hotel. :) Not long after, we stopped by the food court for lunch and return to our hotels to check-out.

As our agent has arranged, the minibus came punctually at 1:30pm to pick us up for the airport. Along the way, we asked the driver to stop at Chatuchak market to pick up some fresh fruits. The market was just amazing, it is firstly humongous, and it sells anything and everything under the sun. The pomelo here is super cheap and sweet. N bought a whole stash to be brought home, the rest all bought something.
Then at the airport, we had KFC, as T was craving for it the whole time since yesterday. Delightful it was, the chicken I am referring to, and feeling satisfied, we checked in for our boarding.

Thus concludes the trip to Bangkok. So much for updating, I am completely exhausted. Goodnight and ciao.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Official Notice

Dear readers of corcovado20.blogspot,

please be informed that the writer will be away from 2-5 Oct in Bangkok and from 7-9 Oct for a retreat with Key Elements. Will be back here after. Have a good week ahead and Happy Chewrens Day!