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11 July 2018 Victoria Concert Hall

Singapore Symphony Orchestra


Founded in 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is Singapore’s flagship orchestra, currently led by our Music Director Lan Shui. We play a hundred concerts a year showcasing a wide range of music: from classic favourites by Mozart and Tchaikovsky, to orchestral masterpieces by Stravinsky and Ravel, and cutting-edge world-premieres by contemporary composers Singaporean and international. These are some of the highlights you can expect in our 2018/19 season — our 40th year of music-making. The SSO has also made a name internationally, having performed to acclaim in Europe, Asia and the USA, including at the Dresden Music Festival, the Berlin Philharmonie and the BBC Proms in London. Some of the great artistes we have collaborated with include renowned conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy and Lorin Maazel, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Lang Lang, soprano Diana Damrau, and violinists Janine Jansen and Gil Shaham. The SSO is most often heard in our performing home, the 1,800-seat Esplanade Concert Hall. For a more intimate experience, we return to the place of our beginnings, the 673-seat Victoria Concert Hall — the home of the SSO. The VCH is also where our popular Children’s and Family Concerts are held. In addition, the SSO travels to various outreach locations in Singapore for our community and outdoor performances, like this one. Through the beauty of classical music, we aim to touch the hearts and lives of everyone, regardless of age, culture or background.

Conductor Joshua Tan

Singaporean conductor Joshua Tan’s rise to prominence on the international scene has been marked by successful debuts in Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie Berlin, Mariinsky Hall, Bunkamura, Shanghai, Beijing and Taiwan. He was featured as the top Singaporean musical talent in 2009 by Lianhe Zaobao. Joshua has also won numerous awards and scholarships, including the Second Prize of the 2008 Dimitris Mitropoulos International Competition, Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Award, NAC-Shell Scholarship, SSO/MOE Scholarship and he is the first-ever recipient of the Charles Schiff Conducting Prize from The Juilliard School for outstanding achievement. In 2011, Joshua received the Young Artist Award of Singapore. Adept with film/multimedia, he is a Disney-approved conductor and gave the Asian premiere of Fantasia. Joshua has also conducted for the BBC’s Planet Earth Series. In opera and ballet, Joshua has conducted La traviata, Tosca, Rigoletto, Der fliegende Holländer,Lohengrin, Carmen, Don Giovanni, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, Così fan tutte, Swan Lake, Giselle and was also cover conductor for Christoph Eschenbach and Lorin Maazel. Joshua is presently Associate Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra. Joshua has studied with leading conductors James DePreist, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman and Kurt Masur, and is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the Eastman School of Music (High Distinction).

Soloist Jun Hong Loh

Poetic, soulful, assured and compelling from the first note to the last. — Gisborne Herald

Singaporean violinist Jun Hong Loh is a regular of the Verbier Festival, Switzerland, having led the festival orchestra for numerous concerts as concertmaster and associate concertmaster under the baton of Charles Dutoit, Daniel Harding, Valery Gergiev and Gianandrea Noseda. A graduate of The Juilliard School and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, NUS, Jun Hong’s performance track record ranges from performances in Alice Tully Hall, New York, to solos in UK, France and Germany, to concerto appearances in New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Phillipines, Vietnam and Indonesia. He has won numerous awards, including notably 1st Prize at Gisborne International Music Competition, 1st Prize at the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, 3rd Prize at the 13th Andrea Postacchini International Competition held in Fermo, Italy, and the best Singaporean Award at the Singapore International Violin Competition. Intent on developing the chamber music scene in his home country, he founded “More than Music”; a concert series dedicated to presenting engaging and intimate concerts for audiences. Aside from producing concerts, he is also active in the education scene as part-time lecturer at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and coach of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra. He plays on a 1726 Mezzadri on generous loan to him from the Rin Collection.

PRO GR A M M E MODEST MUSSORGSKY (Orch. RAVEL) Excerpts from Pictures at an Exhibition • • • • •

Promenade II The Old Castle Promenade III Tuileries Bydlo

• Promenade IV • Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells • Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle

Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition in memory of his friend, the artist Victor Hartmann, who had passed away at just 39 years of age. Mussorgsky composed a suite of short piano pieces, each depicting his impressions of Hartmann’s artwork, linked by a series of ‘Promenades’. These ‘Promenades’ accompany Mussorgsky as he imagines himself walking in an exhibition of Hartmann’s works. He stops at a number of drawings — and today, five such drawings are exhibited, coloured in Ravel’s famous orchestration. The Old Castle depicts a medieval castle, with a prominent role for the alto saxophone, and a short walk brings us to the famous Parisian garden, Tuileries, next to the Louvre, with several squabbling children. A quick scene change brings us to the heavy tread of Bydlo — a cattle-drawn wagon — before quirky woodwinds depict the cute Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells. Musical stereotypes of two Jews, Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle — one rich and assertive, the other poor and whining — bring this selection to a close.

ALEXANDER BORODIN Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 An incredibly gifted tunesmith, Borodin composed what was to become one of the most well-known string quartets ever for his wife in 1881. The third movement, Nocturne, begins Borodin’s most famous melody — which was turned into a song, “And this is my beloved,” in the musical, Kismet. It then gives way to a more passionate and turbulent central episode, and the sweeping melody — now in a duet between the cello and first violin — returns to end the Nocturne.

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Finale: Allegro Vivacissimo from Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 Jun Hong Loh, violin Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was regarded as “unviolinistic” by its initial dedicatee. Whatever that might mean, it has not deterred generations of violinists — students and professionals alike — from learning and mastering the concerto. The Finale is one of the most exciting movements ever written for a concerto, with virtuosic sparks flying and the soloist accorded every opportunity to showcase his/her technique and musicality. Tchaikovsky does not forget the many violins in the orchestra either — they (who are also likely to have mastered the solo part) have their moment to shine in the thrilling build up to the exhilarating finale.

PRO GR A M M E NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Flight of the Bumble-Bee Zipping into one of the most famous classical works ever written, the Flight of the Bumble-Bee is taken from Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1900 opera, “The Tale of Tsar Sultan”. Transcribed and arranged for practically every available instrument and instrumental combination, the Flight depicts the chaotic and speedy flight of the Tsar’s son, who has been changed into a Bumble-Bee by the magical Swan-Bird, so that he can fly away and visit his father.

IGOR STRAVINSKY Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra Finishing off this all-Russian concert is Stravinsky’s short Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra. Stravinsky wrote four piano pieces, each depicting someone he knew, and later orchestrated them. The amusingly off-kilter March was written for Italian composer, pianist and conductor, Alfredo Casella, and the somewhat bizarre Valse (waltz) pays homage to the quirky French composer, Erik Satie. The Polka was written for Stravinsky’s frequent collaborator, Sergei Diaghilev. Stravinsky recounted Diaghilev’s reaction when he played the Polka for him: “On reaching the Polka I told him that in composing it I had thought of him as a circus ring-master in evening dress and top-hat, cracking his whip and urging on a rider on horseback. At first he was put out, not quite knowing whether he ought to be offended or not; but we had a good laugh over it together in the end.” Stravinsky wrote the concluding Galop for his children, Theodore and Mika, to duet at the piano. Its raucous and lively rhythms bring the Suite to a captivating conclusion.

Programme notes by Christopher Cheong


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SSO In Your Community: Central Singapore - Lunchtime Concert @ VCH  
SSO In Your Community: Central Singapore - Lunchtime Concert @ VCH