Thursday, December 8, 2016

Interview with Martin Ng and Li Jie - 'The Italian Baritone' on 17 Dec 2016

The Italian Baritone by Martin Ng, featuring soprano Li Jie and pianist Boris Kraljevic looks set to be an exciting, unmissable concert of aural and dramatic fireworks! We speak to Martin and Li Jie to find out their thoughts about this upcoming concert. Artist bios and tickets are available at Peatix so please go and get your tickets soon!

The Mad Scene: Hi Li Jie and Martin, thank you for speaking to us at The Mad Scene! Firstly, Martin, why choose this programme to present in Singapore?

Martin: Thanks Steven, it's always a pleasure to be interviewed on The Mad Scene. I wanted to feature the period of the Golden Age of Italian opera for the baritone voice. It is an era where Italian opera was THE artform that was performed in major opera houses all over the world. Works of the great Italian operatic master like Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi with their lush melodies and their electric theatricality. Another interesting feature is that excerpts of all three opera of the famous Verdi trilogy will be performed: La Traviata, Rigoletto and il Trovatore. As such it promises to be a very exciting evening of music making.

The Mad Scene: Li Jie, how has the years studying and performing in Germany affected your life and art?

Li Jie: I have been in Germany for 3 years already. I now have a deeper understanding of German culture, German classical music and even European classical music. My command of German has improved tremendously. I am very happy that I can study in Germany. I learnt a lot from different music teachers in my music conservatory in Germany. I have a lot of opportunities to perform in Germany as well. This is very important to me, it has given me a lot of different stage experiences and I now feel more relaxed when I perform onstage. The audience in Germany are very nice and supportive; I love performing in Germany. It is a part of my life now.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

'归(gui)' by the NAFA Dance Alumni in Review

Dance performance by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Dance Alumni

Venue: Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Studio Theatre
Date: 26 November 2016
Time: 8.00pm

Review by Jocelyn Chng
Photography by Jeff Low

归(gui) is the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Dance Alumni’s first production, bringing together the works of graduates from different cohorts in the same platform. Putting together such a production, in the Singapore context, is no easy feat, and for that the NAFA Dance Alumni Committee deserves recognition.

For many of the choreographers represented, this platform is probably a rare opportunity for them to showcase their work. Although there are some good moments in each of the five pieces presented, most of them feel incomplete in some way; such a platform is therefore valuable as a chance to experiment with ideas, to see what works and what perhaps needs to be re-worked.

The performance opens with What is…? by Seow Yi-Qing, a fun, tongue-in-cheek improvisational piece in which Seow interacts with the space and with crushed plastic mineral water bottles strewn on the floor. In a segment where the stage is darkened, she also plays with flashlights, shining them teasingly into the audience. This piece drew some comments from some audience members about how such a work is considered dance – a long overdue and much needed conversation in a scene where what is dance is rarely questioned.

We Leave our Mark in Space by Goh Jia-Yin and Triumph and Disaster by Wiing Liu share similar aesthetics as well as choreographic issues. Both are light-hearted yet reflective, making use of bright lighting and various pieces of music. While both works have the potential to be very entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time, in their current forms they are riddled with issues like overly sudden music changes, awkward transitions between sections, and abrupt endings. In Triumph, the audience interaction section holds especially good potential, but unfortunately fizzles out towards the end when, after gamely participating in a mass dance with hand gestures, the audience is left hanging and the performers abruptly exit. The inadequate commitment in the overall execution further hinders this work’s success – the self-reflexivity of the piece and popular culture references are all good fun, but require complete commitment from the performers in order to work. Pieces of this nature are thus especially challenging to perform, and more work is needed to make this piece truly triumph.

When I Ate the Sun by Kenneth Tan, a very personal work, is probably the most complete and well thought-out piece. The programme writeup for this work cryptically lists only a date, “06 May 2009,” leaving it to the audience to generate their own responses to this clearly emotional work.

Overall, the pieces in the programme seem to have been arranged to intersperse light-hearted or more upbeat pieces between darker or slower ones. However, the flow may have been smoother had the performance been curated thematically. Admittedly, Seow’s improvisational work, although interesting and thought-provoking, does feel out of place in the programme, and may have worked better as a pre-show performance or semi-durational piece done outside the theatre before the audience enters.

Nevertheless, this has evidently been a meaningful experience for the choreographers, performers and organising committee members involved, and such a platform for the continuing development of work by the NAFA Dance Alumni should indeed be supported.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Martin Ng's 'The Italian Baritone' - COMING SOON!!!

Martin Ng's gala concert The Italian Baritone with Boris Kraljevic and Li Jie is happening in two weeks! Get your tickets at Peatix ( or at Madison Academy of Music (!

Here are some videos of Martin and Boris performing in Montenegro:

It goes without saying that Boris is a very accomplished pianist, and so it is our pleasure that he will perform two pieces by Rachmaninov with us. Here is a video of him doing just that. Imagine how amazing it would be when heard live!

Soprano Li Jie has had quite a busy year performing across Europe, many times with Martin. Here she is performing Rossini's Cat Duet with baritone Xiao Chunyuan at our Esplanade Recital Studio:

Here's the official programme for the evening:

~ Come paride vezzoso from L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti)
~ Resta immobile from Guglielmo Tell (Rossini)

Li Jie:
~ In der Fremde (Schumann)

~ Cruda funesta smania from Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)

Li Jie:
~ Signore ascolta from Turandot (Puccini)

Martin and Li Jie:
~ Duet: Pura siccome un angelo from La Traviata (Verdi)


~ Pietà rispetto e amore from Macbeth (Verdi)
~ Ah! Pescator from La Gioconda (Ponchielli)

~ S. Rachmaninov: Musical moment in D Flat Major, Op 16 No 5
~ S. Rachmaninov: Etude-tableaux in C Sharp Minor, Op 33 No 9

Martin and Li Jie:
~ Duet: Figlia! Mio padre from Rigoletto (Verdi)

~ Cortigiani vil razza dannata from Rigoletto (Verdi)

Li Jie:
~ Meine Lippen by Lehar

~ Nemico della patria from Andrea Chenier (Giordano)

Martin and Li Jie:
~ Udiste...Mira di acerbe lagrime from Il Trovatore (Verdi)

Once more, tickets for Martin Ng - The Italian Baritone are available at Peatix ( and at Madison Academy of Music ( Get yours today!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fong Kai De Piano Recital - 23 Dec 2016

Fong Kai De may be only 16, but he has already scored a distinction in the ABRSM LRSM examination. His success in international competitions include Silver Prize at the 7th All Japan Junior Piano Concours held in Tokyo.

Supporters of young musical talent should not therefore miss his recital on 23 December at the Esplanade Recital Studio. On the programme are works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Prkofiev and Chopin.

Check out this link below for more information including where to get tickets!

A Musical Fantasy - Piano Recital by Song Ziliang

Russian-trained pianist Song Ziliang presents a concert on 16 December 2016 at the SOTA Concert Hall. A Musical Fantasy promises to be a departure from the usual classical recital format, namely as audiences can request for their favourite pop songs to be played by clicking through on this link.

Fancy hearing your favourite pop tunes played by a professional concert pianists between 'serious' pieces? Here's your chance! Please SMS or Whatsapp 9271 3366 to reserve your tickets!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Journey - Compendium of Vocal Scores by Xiao Chunyuan

Just like our local singers, instrumentalists, dancers and actors, local composers need public support as well in order to grow. London-trained local composer and baritone Xiao Chunyuan has marked a new milestone in his career with the publication of Journey, a collection of songs that he has composed over the years.

Journey is available for purchase at only $25 at Gramercy Music (188 Buki Timah Road) and Music Book Room at Bras Brasah Complex. Make your music library more diverse by adding Journey to your collection!

Monday, November 21, 2016

SLO Gala Concert 'Love and Passion' in Review

Singapore Lyric Opera Gala Concert - Love and Passion
Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore
18 Nov 2016

Jason Lai - Conductor
Wang Bing-Bing - Soprano
Anna Koor - Mezzo-Soprano
William Lim - Baritone

Also featuring artists from SLO–Leow Siak Fah Young Artists Programme:

Teo Kai Xin - Soprano
Jeremy Koh - Tenor


Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra
Singapore Lyric Opera Chorus
Singapore Lyric Opera Children's Choir

A Review by Hawk Liu

Every time the annual opera gala comes along, I anticipate with trepidation, wondering which same pieces would be performed yet again. I am glad this time they have ventured a little bit more into new territory with the likes of merce, dilette amiche, Si puo, Je veux vivre and the Triumphant March from Aida.

With a solid cast of soloists and some new repertoire, it was certainly a delightful evening. The orchestra played well - good use of dynamics and great interpretations. I think the conductor did a good job in bringing out the 'opera' from the orchestra. Unfortunately, I found the brass section uneven sometimes. In general, the playing was too loud for the singers and even the chorus - the perpetual problem in many performances. The entire chorus with the children's chorus was no much for the orchestra in volume, especially in the final chorus of Carmen and Aida's March.
The children's chorus was outstanding in the Italian excerpt from Turandot, producing solid, lovely vocal tones. Unfortunately they faltered a little in the same aspects in the German of Hansel und Gretel, losing the focus in their tone. Indeed, Italian is the best language to sing in. The adult chorus had a good sing throughout, with the Cavalleria Rusticana's pieces particularly moving and harmonically beautiful.

The soloists were all wonderful to watch and I appreciated the acting they put into their performances. The standout for the evening had to be Teo Kai Xin's Je veux vivre. The voice loved the concert hall and rang out well. She got her well deserved enthusiastic applause. William Lim was engaging in Si Puo and the orchestra worked very well with him in this piece.

I was very sad at the end of the concert, not because it was the end, but because it ended yet again with Traviata's Brindisi which is played to death in every concert around the world. I got to say the singers were interesting in this Brindisi and I wasn't as bored as I thought I would be...BUT....please may we NOT have the Brindisi in ANY concert for the next ten years?

On a positive note, I found this gala very interesting to watch despite some uneven performances and I, as a member of the local audience, would love to see the annual opera gala grow by venturing a whole lot more into new territories in their repertoire choices.

[Note from Ed: by the way, awesome programme notes!]