September 12, 20070

The wanting and longing to learn the cello still remains.

And I realized that I haven’t felt this way since way back then when I was 9. The instrument in question was the Oboe (which I picked up only 8 years later), and what enchanted and captivated me was a character from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, the duck. (yes, stop laughing already, would you?)

Now.. It wouldn’t be that difficult to pick it up, would it? After all, aren’t the playing techniques similar to that of the violin? 😉

September 9, 2007

On the uncontrollable urge to pick up the cello..


As I listened to Mischa Maisky play the poetic Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, followed by the sweet seduction of the Soul of the Tango CD by Yo-yo Ma, and afterward the heart-wrenching Elgar Cello Concerto played by Jacqueline du Pre, I had this sudden desire to learn the cello.

It’s as though… just being able to play the Arpeggione or the Elgar concerto will give me the satisfaction. All that money spent on lessons and the hours of practice and hard work just won’t be wasted.

Perhaps it’s just like practicing the violin like crazy just to be able to play the Chaconne.

Delayed gratification, that’s what it is.

Someone stop me from buying a cello, PLEASE.

September 6, 2007

Musicians wrestle everywhere


Musicians wrestle everywhere —
All day — among the crowded air
I hear the silver strife —
And — walking — long before the morn —
Such transport breaks upon the town
I think it that “New Life”!

If is not Bird — it has no nest —
Nor “Band” — in brass and scarlet — drest —
Nor Tamborin — nor Man —
It is not Hymn from pulpit read —
The “Morning Stars” the Treble led
On Time’s first Afternoon!

Some — say — it is “the Spheres” — at play!
Some say that bright Majority
Of vanished Dames — and Men!
Some — think it service in the place
Where we — with late — celestial face —
Please God — shall Ascertain!

-Emily Dickinson

September 6, 2007

Pavarotti (1935 – 2007)


Celebrated Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, 71, has died following his operation for pancreatic cancer in July last year and hospitalisation last month, ANSA
news agency reported Thursday.

Read all about it here.

Really bad news, and a great loss for the world of opera 🙁

August 27, 2007

Concert Review: Clouds of Glory by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (Part 1)


Sat, 25 Aug 07

Choo Hoey conductor

Li Chuan Yun violin

The Fair Melusina: Overture, op. 32

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35


Nocturnes: Clouds and Festivals

The Firebird: Suite (1919 version)

The long-awaited concert had finally arrived, and I attended it, hoping for an evening of good music. The conductor was Choo Hoey, who was the founding Music Director of the SSO in 1979. (Seeing that even my dad knew who he was, I assumed that he was some great conductor and was dying to watch him conduct)

Mendelssohn’s concert overture, The Fair Melusina, proved to be an amenable opening to the concert. The poetic essence of the story was captured by the light, shimmering strings beautifully. With the rippling arpeggios more than reminiscent of the Rhine motif in Das Rhinegold and sinuous wind playing, the orchestra sketched a convincing tone-picture of Melusine herself. Choo Hoey’s phrasing and sense of rubato was unflawed, and with the orchestra responding together, he brought out the irate minor-key figure of Count Raymond of Lusignan as a smooth extension of the first motif. The fluid melody of the clarinet was interwoven nicely into the picturesque, more urgent second idea. Despite its deeply inflective and nachdenklich nature, the piece ended almost ungracefully in what was supposed to be a serene conclusion. The last pizzicato chords were scattered and clumsy, with the orchestra musicians barely able to follow Choo’s inappropriately large sweeping gestures for a peaceful, quiet ending.
China-born, Julliard-educated Li Chuan Yun took to the stage in an extremely flamboyant attire – a black shirt with crystals around the neckline. Albeit slow, the orchestra set the right ambience for the entry of the soloist. There was no mistaking in Li’s matchless double-stops and his flawless technique. Li tackled the violinistic hurdles fearlessly, but much to my disappointment, without any character and power. It was apparent that besides technical virtuosity, there was nothing else Li had to say about Tchaikovsky. He made the triumphant first movement sound brooding and moody. What happened to the poetry, the passion, the imagination, the glory? His rendition of Tchaikovsky had obviously failed to move the audience.

There was tenderness in the second movement, and his sublime introduction had exhibited fleeting moments of beauty. His execution of the portamento and his ornamentation were gentle and graceful, and the movement died down to a tranquil close before the orchestra burst into the loud, rousing finale. The powerful promising start to the third movement died down as quickly as it came, and dragging back into its monotonous, sleepy state. This was very obviously ignoring Tchaikovsky’s Allegro Vivacissimo tempo marking! The cadenzas were disappointing, with Li pausing at unmusical places and altering the tempo as he desired.

The orchestra was untidy most of the time, sometimes with miscued entries, sometimes not together with the soloist. Nonetheless, Li managed to finish the concerto much to the delight and applause of the audience, even receiving a few standing ovations (sigh, what on earth were the audience thinking?!). He was accorded three curtain calls, and came back for a vigourous technical display of an encore piece, ending it off with a maori-like war cry, to the amusement of the orchestra and the members of the audience.

[the second half is not reviewed because I had to leave after the first half :(]

On a lighter note, I’ll be leaving for KL, Malaysia, for a performance on the 4th of September and returning on the 8th. Apparently I’ll be playing the violin for some pop-concert in Genting. Let’s see how this goes (:

August 22, 20070

I’ll be leaving for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a performance on the 4th of September and returning on the 8th. Apparently I’ll be playing the violin for a pop-concert in Genting Highlands. I know it’s going to be dumb, but perhaps it’ll be interesting.. Shan’t expect too much out of it lest I get disappointed.

Speaking of which, LY and Jamie will both be in KL at the same time as well; LY for a military music thing and Jamie to guest-play with the MPO. Sigh, it seems as though their engagements there are far more interesting than mine.

Call me a snob, but I’ve never liked playing pop/rock music in a string ensemble. I just think it’s degrading for the musicians to do so. I guess that’s much worse than being in an orchestra pit, playing for Broadway musicals…

A while ago before I set up Plink, Plonk, Plunk I posted this on my other blog. I know these people make loads of money, but can what they play be considered music? I haven’t come across any crossover musician performer that I’ve really respected. Bah!

August 20, 2007

Einmal ist keinmal?


My thought for today is in German. The “unbearably light” never really grow up, but repeat their childhood ad infinitum. Such a playful irony isn’t it? 🙂

“Als das Kind Kind war, ging es mit hängenden Armen, wollte der
Bach sei ein Fluß,

der Fluß sei ein Strom, und diese Pfütze das Meer.

Als das Kind Kind war,
wußte es nicht,
daß es Kind war,
alles war ihm beseelt,
und alle Seelen waren eins.”

-Peter Handke, Song of Childhood.

When the child was a child It walked with its arms swinging, wanted the brook to be a river, the river to be a torrent, and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people,
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower,
and eats all of those now,
and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.

It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought.

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.

When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

August 17, 2007

On Playing the English Horn.


How is it possible that on the English Horn, I can go from sounding like a hoarse goose, to a beautiful swan, and back to a strangled goose within a day, using the same reed and the same instrument?

Perhaps its just one of those cases of being consistantly inconsistant.

I’ll be performing Terrence Wong’s Memories this evening on the EH. It’s a beautiful yet dark piece, composed for english horn, tuba and cello. It calls for the kind of tone which invokes the feeling of longing and yearning. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be Nightmares instead…


On a lighter note, I attended my first Woodwind class of the semester since graduation. This year saw an intake of 5 woodwind majors, 4 of which are males. And they go by the names Jeff, Jeremy, Jeremy and Jeremy, who major in the bassoon, flute, clarinet and oboe respectively. What’s with all the Js Jeremys?


August 12, 2007

THE exam.


Registration for the Trinity/Guildhall exams is now on, and it closes on 7th September.
Exams will be held from late November to early December.

Being really anxious (as Singaporeans say, kiasu), I shall assume my exam date is on the 20th of November. Thus, I have 100 more days to my exam as from today.

This will be my first EVER oboe examination in my whole entire life, and it happens to be a diploma examination. This exam comes after 2-and-a-half years of oboe playing. The programme is as follows:

Concerto in D Major, op 7 no. 6 by Albinoni
Concerto in D Minor, no. 1 by Lebrun (first movement)
Sonate by Hindemith (first movement)
Sarabande and Allegro by Grovlez

Argh. What am I getting myself into?

I’m beginning to think that 3 hours of practice a day isn’t enough.


a conversation over MSN with my dear accompanist just 5 minutes ago went like this:

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:
OMG it’s gonna be rush rush rush this semester! =D

leichtigkeit… says:

leichtigkeit… says:
my recital’s the same time as your mid-years I think.

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:
i hope nothing clashes!

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:
if semestral asessment ends on the 25th
that means…

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:

julia alena. panick mode!!!! says:
-panicks panicks-

as she kindly reminded me, MY EXAM IS IN LESS THAN 100 DAYS.


the accompanist is panicking too. oh dear.