uPCoMIng EvEnTS february - Singapore Symphony … · musical genres such as Baroque, ... LIBRETTO...
Published by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra Printed by Ngai Heng Pte. Ltd. Concerts for Children: Jason’s Short Guide to Music History Fri, 18 Mar 2016, 2pm & 4pm Sat, 19 Mar 2016, 2pm Victoria Concert Hall Jason Lai conductor Chad O’Brien actor Each concert lasts one hour. Suitable for ages to 14. Pre-Concert Talk: Brahms’ Piano Quartet Sat, 26 Mar 2016, 6.30pm library@esplanade April ........................................ Pre-Concert Talk: Eroica Fri, 01 Apr 2016, 6.30pm library@esplanade Pre-Concert Talk: Barber’s Violin Concerto Fri & Sat, 8 & 9 Apr 2016, 6.30pm Victoria Concert Hall Music Studio Bizet’s Carmen p.6 Getting To Know You – Low Shao Suan & Low Shao Ying p.8 Information correct at time of print and is subject to change. ........................................ All pre-concert talks are open to the public. For more information, please visit us at www.sso.org.sg or email: [email protected]All SSO events are endorsed by the National Arts Council and local schools are eligible for up to 50% claim/subsidy from Totalisator Board Arts Grant. Singapore Symphonia Co Ltd 11 Empress Place, #01-02 Victoria Concert Hall Singapore 179558 Tel: 6602 4200 Fax: 6602 4222 Email: [email protected]UPCOMING EVENTS February ........................................ VCH Organ Series: Dong-ill Shin Mon, 1 Feb 2016, 12.30pm Victoria Concert Hall Free admission Pre-Concert Talk: The Butterﬂy Lovers Fri & Sat, 19 & 20 Feb 2016, 6.30pm Victoria Concert Hall Music Studio Pre-Concert Talk: Leningrad Symphony Fri, 26 Feb 2016, 6.30pm library@esplanade March ........................................ Pre-Concert Talk: Symphonie Fantastique Sat, 5 Mar 2016, 6.30pm library@esplanade VCH Organ Series: Guest Vocalists & Margaret Chen ‘On Broadway’ Mon, 7 Mar 2016, 12.30pm Free admission SSO Lunchtime Concert Thu, 10 Mar 2016, 12.30pm Victoria Concert Hall Free admission SSO on Campus @ Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School Fri, 11 Mar 2016, 7.30pm Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School Agape Concert Hall Free admission SSO @ Gardens by the Bay Sun, 13 Mar 2016, 6.30pm The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay Post-Concert Symphony Chat: Barber’s Violin Concerto Sat, 09 Apr 2016 Victoria Concert Hall Open to members of the concert audience Open Rehearsal: Gala: Bizet’s Carmen Thu, 21 Apr 2016, 6.30pm – 10.15pm Esplanade Concert Hall Open to SSO Subscribers, Friends of the SSO and ticket holders May ........................................ VCH Organ Series: The Philharmonic Winds & Margaret Chen Mon, 7 Mar 2016, 12.30pm Free admission Pre-Concert Talk: Handel Variations Fri & Sat, 6 & 7 May 2016, 6.30pm Victoria Concert Hall Music Studio SSO Classics in the Park: Mother’s Day Concert Sun, 8 May 2016, 6pm Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, Singapore Botanic Gardens THE EVOLUTION OF INSTRUMENTS: KEYBOARD EDITION MCI (P) No. 089/09/2015 Newsletter of the SSO Community Outreach Department Jan - Mar 2016 www.sso.org.sg
uPCoMIng EvEnTS february - Singapore Symphony … · musical genres such as Baroque, ... LIBRETTO The words and lyrics that ... famous theme song to the Harry Potter
february........................................VCH Organ Series:Dong-ill ShinMon, 1 Feb 2016, 12.30pm Victoria Concert Hall
Pre-Concert Talk: The Butterfly LoversFri & Sat, 19 & 20 Feb 2016, 6.30pmVictoria Concert Hall Music Studio
Pre-Concert Talk:Leningrad SymphonyFri, 26 Feb 2016, 6.30pmlibrary@esplanade
March........................................Pre-Concert Talk: Symphonie FantastiqueSat, 5 Mar 2016, 6.30pmlibrary@esplanade
VCH Organ Series:Guest Vocalists & Margaret Chen ‘On Broadway’Mon, 7 Mar 2016, 12.30pm
SSO Lunchtime ConcertThu, 10 Mar 2016, 12.30pmVictoria Concert Hall
SSO on Campus @ Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ SchoolFri, 11 Mar 2016, 7.30pmPaya Lebar Methodist Girls’ SchoolAgape Concert Hall
SSO @ Gardens by the BaySun, 13 Mar 2016, 6.30pmThe Meadow, Gardens by the Bay
Post-Concert Symphony Chat:Barber’s Violin ConcertoSat, 09 Apr 2016Victoria Concert Hall
Open to members of the concert audience
Open Rehearsal:Gala: Bizet’s CarmenThu, 21 Apr 2016, 6.30pm – 10.15pmEsplanade Concert Hall
Open to SSO Subscribers, Friends of the SSO and ticket holders
May........................................VCH Organ Series:The Philharmonic Winds & Margaret ChenMon, 7 Mar 2016, 12.30pm
Pre-Concert Talk: Handel VariationsFri & Sat, 6 & 7 May 2016, 6.30pmVictoria Concert Hall Music Studio
SSO Classics in the Park: Mother’s Day ConcertSun, 8 May 2016, 6pmShaw Foundation Symphony Stage,Singapore Botanic Gardens
THE EVOLUTIONOf INSTRUMENTS:KEYBOARDEDITION
MCI (P) No. 089/09/2015Newsletter of the SSO Community Outreach Department
Jan - Mar 2016
ContentsCover Story 3Classipedia 6Getting To Know You 8Fun & Games 10Recent Happenings 12Ask Auntie Melody 14Fun Facts 15Upcoming Events 16
Editorial TeamEditor & Coordinator:Vanessa LeeKathleen Tan
Senior Manager, Programmes:Kua Li Leng
In a concert that promises to be as much fun for the well informed, as it does for the uninitiated, Jason Lai time travels through musical genres such as Baroque, Classical and Romantic music, introducing some of the composers who have helped to shape the course of history.
Spend an enjoyable evening at the Supertrees to the sound of the SSO under the skilful baton of conductor Jason Lai. Come with a picnic mat, some friends and family, and enjoy the sunset with us!
Sun, 13 Mar 2016, 6.30pmThe Meadow, Gardens by the Bay
Jason Lai, conductorFree admission for all
LIBRETTO The words and lyrics that the singers sing in an opera. A libretto is just like the script of a play, but instead of the words being read, they will be sung.
SSO @ Gardens by the Bay
Word Of the Issue
Concerts for Children: Jason’s Short Guide to Music History
Sat, 18 Mar 2016, 2pm & 4pmSun, 19 Mar 2016, 2pmVictoria Concert Hall
Jason Lai, conductor
Tickets available via SISTIC. For more information, please visit www.sso.org.sg
Written by Ruth Rodrigues
A HISTORY Of KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS
Before we discuss the history of the keyboard, here is an experiment for you: Find a piece of string, and ask a friend to pull it tight between his hands. Now, pluck the string with your finger – does it make a sound or musical note?
As early as in prehistoric times, Man knew that a taut, vibrating string could produce sounds. In the ancient world, strings were
The piano can be a member
of the orchestra or a solo instrument.
It is one of the favourite solo instruments among all
the instruments in the orchestra. Sometimes, the piano plays a role as an
orchestra member such as in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. The piano, however,
has a long and illustrious history!
attached and stretched over bows and boxes to amplify the sound; they were fastened by ties, pegs and pins, and then were plucked, bowed and struck to produce sounds. Eventually, a family of stringed instruments with a keyboard evolved in Europe in the 14th century, leading to the development of the clavichord.
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The Clavichord on a table
The damper pedal
A double manual harpsichord
The felt dampers resting on the piano strings
ClavichordThe clavichord had brass strings stuck with triangular metal pieces called ‘tangents’. In comparison with the modern piano, the clavichord’s strings were much smaller and were strung on a small wooden frame. Because it was so small, the clavichord produced a very soft sound and hence, it was not suitable for playing with other instruments. As such, the clavichord was used as a practice instrument at home by musicians. In fact, the clavichord is such a small instrument that it could be lifted up and put on a table for practice!
HarpsichordMusicians were however not contented with the clavichord. They wanted an instrument that could make a louder sound. Hence, the harpsichord was invented around the 1500-1600s. Although it looks like the modern piano, it sounds very much different. Sound is produced on the harpsichord by goose quills plucking a thicker brass or iron string. Sometimes, you might find a harpsichord with two keyboards – here, the harpsichord has double strings so that the volume can be lowered or raised to the performer’s liking.
FortepianoThe famous harpsichord maker, Bartolomeo Cristofori, thus began working on the fortepiano in 1698. While it looks like a harpsichord, the fortepiano was much different inside. Instead of a plectrum plucking the strings, the fortepiano used a hammer to strike them. This allowed the player to control not only the volume, but also the length of the sound. The fortepiano became a favourite among musicians because they could express more emotion through the instrument than previously with the harpsichord.
The harpsichord is also a special instrument because it has a few novelties such as the ‘lute’ stop – this produces a rather muted sound. However, the harpsichord had one great flaw: it could not get louder or softer without moving an elaborate set of levers, and this had to be done while playing, making such changes very awkward for the performer.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven were some of the composers who began to exploit the advantages of the fortepiano, and eventually contributed to its introduction around the world. By the time Beethoven came to write his well-known Moonlight Sonata, the damper pedal had become a standard addition to the piano. This device causes all the dampers to lift off the strings, allowing for a sustained sound until the pedal is released.
Modern PianoAs the piano developed, piano makers searched for an even more powerful sound. The frames that held the strings of early fortepianos were made out of wood and these would snap easily if too much force was used. Hence, makers used a cast iron frame which allowed a lot of pressure to produce the massive sound we take for granted today as the modern piano. The Steinway Concert Grand piano you see on stage at SSO concerts can weigh 450kg and has 88 keys!
CelestaLike humans, the piano also has several cousins in the keyboard family. You may have seen an instrument that looks like an upright piano at concerts – that is the celesta. The celesta was invented in 1886 and its name means ‘heavenly’ in French. Like the piano, when its keys are depressed, a hammer strikes a steel plate, creating a sparkling sound like tiny bells. The celesta is most famously used in Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker and in the opening of the famous theme song to the Harry Potter.
The piano is arguably the oldest living complex machine humans have ever made. Do you know of any other machine that dates from the Renaissance period, has thousands of moving parts and may be sitting in your living room? With over 300 years of history, the piano remains a popular instrument till today!
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WHO IS BIZET?
Georges Bizet was born in Paris to a musical family. Both of his parents and an uncle were singing teachers.
His mother taught him piano and singing, and he was admitted to the Paris Conservatory of Music at age 9. By the age of 19, Bizet had won the Prix de Rome, the Conservatory’s top composition award.
Despite his early achievements, many of Bizet’s works were not popular with audiences. However, his final work, Carmen, has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.
While composing Carmen, Bizet was also giving piano lessons. One twelve-year-old student remembered, “I was afraid of him. Not that he ever scolded, but the way he would look at you through those eyeglasses! I ... sometimes would make little slips in fingering. Then he would say savagely, “Je ne dors pas!” (I’m not asleep!)”
The first performance of Carmen received a lukewarm response. Three months later, he passed away at the age 36, never to know its worldwide success.
BIZET’S CARMENTHE NAME: Georges Bizet (pronounced Zhor-zh Bee-zeh)
BORN: October 25, 1838
DIED: June 3, 1875
WHO IS CARMEN?
Carmen is the name of an opera, and also the name of the main character in the opera’s story.
The opera’s plot revolves around the beautiful gypsy Carmen, who demands the freedom to love. A soldier, Don José, falls in love with her, and leaves his job to lead a wandering life with her as a smuggler. However, when she leaves him for the dashing bullfighter Escamillo, he flies into a jealous rage and kills her.
Carmen contains some of the most famous opera melodies ever written, with the Habanera and the Toreador Song being among the most well-known of all operatic arias. The tunes have been used in countless films and television shows, such as The Muppets, Sesame Street and even the cartoon Tom and Jerry. Perhaps the most recent and memorable of these would be the appearance of the Habanera in the soundtrack of the Disney/Pixar film, Up.
In fact, every time Carmen opens her mouth in this opera, the tune would be set to a dance music: habanera, seguidilla, gypsy dance. This is because the characterisation of Carmen was inspired by the Spanish gypsies, who loved to dance.
DID YOU KNOW?Bizet was such a spectactular pianist,
particularly as a sight-reader, that the famous piano virtuoso Liszt
pronounced him his equal.
An opera is a play with music. The performers on the stage are singers,
rather than actors. The story is told in song and by the music from the orchestra.
It can be very dramatic and exciting!
Aria: A song that is sung in an opera usually by
one person. It is usually difficult to sing and has the most beautiful tunes. They
are written to showcase the singer’s voice and singing skill.
Chorus: A part that involves a large group of singers
singing together in unison.
Join the SSO as they perform Bizet’s Carmen
on 22-23 April 2016 at the Victoria Concert Hall!
For more information, please visit our website at sso.org.sg.
Among those who attended one of these later performances was the composer Tchaikovsky, who wrote, “Carmen is a masterpiece in every sense of the word... one of those rare creations which expresses the efforts of a whole musical epoch.”
WHAT IS AN OPERA?
gETTIng To know you
Hi Shao Suan & Shao Ying! It’s always nice to see siblings who love to make music together. Tell us what it was like growing up with an identical twin! How different or similar are the both of you?When we were young, people would always mix us up, and we would enjoy fooling people. We fought at times but we made up very quickly. We are similar in a sense that we both love music, play the piano and compose, love reading, hanging out with friends, trying out different eateries, and travelling. As for our differences, Suan likes baking, Ying likes photography; Suan likes Rachmaninov, Ying likes Bach and Chopin; Suan likes pink and red, Ying likes blue and yellow; Suan is more extroverted, Ying is more introverted; Suan likes long hair, Ying likes short hair.
Do you remember your first encounter with the piano? Share your experience with us!Our first encounter with the piano was a toy piano our aunt bought for us when we were in kindergarten. After school, we would rush home to the toy piano and try to reproduce what we had learnt that day. We would also fight over who should play it first. Our parents then decided to send us for proper piano lessons, and the rest is history!
What is it like practising and performing with your sister? Is it challenging to find rehearsal spaces that have two pianos?We have chemistry and a natural “I-know-what-you-want-to-do” feel. Of course there will be disagreement at times, but we discuss
and sort things out. We used to have two pianos at home, but after selling one, we now practise at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Do you have any favourite memories of any concert or rehearsal that you love sharing with others?One of our favourite memories is our very first concert with the SSO and Maestro Choo Hoey, playing Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. It’s a fun and beautiful piece which we learnt during our student days in Paris, so it was really nice to present it back home. Another memorable concert was the very recent Sing50 concert at the new Sports Hub. We performed together with 48 other pianists and Lang Lang in front of an audience of more than 40,000 people! We had so much fun during rehearsals and at the actual concert.
We know that apart from performing, both of you compose your own music as well. Where do you get your inspiration and what influences your new works? Our inspiration comes from music we’ve heard, movies we’ve watched, beautiful scenic pictures we found in magazines, newspapers or online, postcards, and even everyday life. Sometimes it just comes without warning. We love film music, so the legendary John Williams is our biggest influence, not forgetting Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel and Rachmaninov.
For young aspiring pianists out there, do you have any tips or advice about how to make good music? The most important thing is to love and feel the music, and to play from your heart. Music is not about fast fingers or playing as loudly as you can. It’s about touching the hearts of the listeners. Also, you have to be very passionate about what you are doing.
Bach’s Air on G String (Ying),
Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (Suan)
J.S.Bach (Ying), Rachmaninov (Suan)
Favourite Holiday Destination:
Iceland (both)Favourite Food:
Char Kway Teow (Ying), Fried Chicken (Suan)
Favourite Hangout: Anywhere nice and quiet that
serves good food
LOW Shao SuanShao Ying P i a n o
Tickets available from SISTIC.Please visit www.sso.org.sg for more information
Catch Shao Ying and Shao Suan as they perform original works for solo piano and chamber music of various styles, ranging from Neo-Classical and Romantic to film music, New Age and Jazz!
Here are the answers to last issue’s Instrument Names!
Across 3. TRUMPET 5. HARP 7. FRENCH HORN 8. VIOLIN 9. CLARINET
Down 1. TROMBONE 2. BASSOON 3. TRIANGLE 4. PIANO 6. DRUMS
Concerts for Children: Emily Saves the orchestra SSo Babies’ Proms 201521-22 nov 15 28-29 nov 15
The biggest highlight of the concerts was when four children were randomly chosen to go on stage to conduct the orchestra. Each of the young conductors had their own style – some conducted fast and some preferred to conduct slow and steadily. Some cheeky ones decided their style was to change the speed of the piece every second! It was also heart-warming to see the little ones interacting with the SSO musicians just before the end of the performance, when Uncle Peter invited forty children on stage to stand close to their favourite instruments.
The SSO Babies’ Proms has just finished its thirteenth edition! Led by Uncle Peter, these interactive concerts had the audience swaying to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the flowers from The Nutcracker: Suite No. 1, clapping to Townsend’s Cheerful Cha Cha, and marching along to music of Sousa’s Liberty Bell March. Not only did the concerts pro-vide entertainment for the kids – adults were delighted to recognize themes from the movies Jaws and Star Wars as well.
The voices of the audience singing the Spirit Piece – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – rang in the concert hall as Emily urged everyone to help her to defeat the terrifying Cacophonus and his servant Squawk. The monster hated music and wanted to destroy music forever. Although it was tough work, the combined voices of everyone in the concert hall drowned his noise out, and music triumphed over evil!
Platypus Theatre staged four shows of Emily Saves the Orchestra on 21 and 22 November, where Emily made an exciting journey together with her friend Opus and the Conductor, Leonard Tan. Along the way she met strange birds and creatures, such as Timpy, the bird of Rhythm, dancing along to Khatchaturian’s Sabre Dance, and the bird of Melody, who glided gracefully across the stage to the beautiful strains of Grieg’s “Morning” from Peer Gynt.
She learned about the important parts of music – Rhythm, Melody and Harmony – and managed get the conductor and the orchestra to play the Spirit Piece correctly, just in time to save the day!
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Dear Abishek, The musicians are a little like sports athletes, who need to warm up their muscles and focus their concentration before a performance. You might hear a player practise a solo part or a tricky section in the music over and over again. However, not all players will warm up on stage; some may choose to do it backstage.
Dear Grace, The piano comes in many different styles, designs, shapes and sizes. Pianos are divided into two main categories: Vertical and Horizontal.
The Upright or Vertical piano is the most common piano due to its affordability and smaller size. It is so named as the soundboard within the piano is vertical, and its strings and dampers stretch downward. They come in various makes, such as the spinet, console, studio, and the full size. They range from the smallest at 35 inches high to the tallest at 60 inches. The studio piano is the most commonly found vertical piano due to its durability and affordability.
Grand pianos are the largest piano type, and are also known as Horizontal pianos. They are favoured for their responsiveness and powerful sound. All of them have horizontal soundboards with its strings stretching across. The standard sizes for grand pianos are the Petite Grand, Baby Grand, Medium Grand and Concert Grand (the smallest is about 134cm long to the biggest can go up to 3 metres!).
There are many piano brands with very good makes, such as the Steinway & Sons pianos, which are the most commonly used Grand pianos in most concert halls around the world. Depending on what the pianist’s performance preferences are, there are different piano makers that produce excellent piano models that will cater to these preferences.
Dear Auntie Melody,Why do the orchestra members come onstage to play their instruments before the show starts? – Abishek
Dear Auntie Melody,Are there different kinds of grade for piano? – Grace Oh
Beethoven titled his fourteenth Piano Sonata:“Sonata quasi una fantasia”. The name“Moonlight Sonata” was only coined fiveyears after Beethoven’s death when Germanpoet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne.
When Mendelssohn was twenty, he was fascinatedby the history of Scotland and started to write hisThird Symphony. Completing it after thirteenyears, Mendelssohn referred to it as his “ScottishSymphony”, however there is little in the piece tosuggest anything distinctively Scottish. Mendelssohn’sfriend, Robert Schumann, accidentally mistook thisSymphony as his “Italian” Symphony!
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was written for a hugenumber of performers – 858 singers and 171instrumentalists! In order to raise publicity to assistticket sales, impresario Emil Gutmann nicknamedthe work “The Symphony of a Thousand” despite thecomposer’s disapproval.
This symphony shocked many in theaudience during its premiere – Haydnincluded an extremely loud crash after aquiet section by the strings in its secondmovement! Soon after that it becamewidely known as the “Surprise Symphony”.