Monday, March 30, 2009

I am thankful for the blessings of the day



30 Mar 2009:

Here is to share good luck with you. May the sharing of good luck help bring you closer to finding simple delight in the everyday life.

I am thankful for yet having won a pair of tickets to an upcoming Singapore Symphony Orchestra's (SSO) concert. This morning, I was pretty keen to catch a particular SSO concert and when there was a call-in contest on my favourite radio station to win a pair of tickets to the concert, I took my chance and called the hotline number. I was pleasantly delighted when my call got through the very moment that I dialled the phone number of the call-in contest. Many thanks to Symphony 92.4 FM for organising the contest. My thanks to SSO for sponsoring the tickets.

The concert's synopsis start as such "Even in these times of distress and anxiety, there is hope and solace to be found in the power of music."

With this, I wish that all my readers, friends and loved ones will find hope and solace even during the times of distress and anxiety.

***

At the personal level, today is a day of blessing as I have had the honour to have a meaningful conversation with a cherished friend of mine. In a society with loads of demands and where people appear racing to achieve their goals, I find it a blessing to have the honour and privilege to spend time engaging in a deep and meaningful conversation with a very good friend. Such moments are priceless.

I am thankful for the blessings of the day, and here, I wish to share the joy that I have received from the blessings with you.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 13 of year 2009 on the double bass

22 Mar 2009, Sun: After a week of break from playing the double bass, I started my practice for the week with Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. I practised some of the sections with a metronome so as to get the rhythm right.

25 Mar 2009, Wed: I was given medical leave for a day by the doctor. It was quite difficult to be at home for all day without playing the double bass. Playing the double bass helps bring me relief. I worked on the entire Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. Specifically, I spent most of the time working on the second movement of the concerto with a metronome. I am pleased that I have managed to get the rhythm right with the metronome's help.

26 Mar 2009, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I realised how lovely the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major could be. My tutor also spent the other half of the lesson getting me to work on the first movement of the concerto.

28 Mar 2009, Sat: At about 11 p.m. in the night, I started practising the second movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. In my attempt not to be a nuisance to my neighbours, I put on the practice mute on the double bass so as to reduced the volume. While I would have preferred to play on it without the mute, the mute offered a solution for me to play the instrument in the late hours of the night.

Actually, during the past few nights, my mind went active half-way in my sleep and I woke up in the middle of the night. My restless mind had the urge to play on the double bass even if it were at 2.00 a.m. in the morning. Anyway, my body was physically tired so I did not pursue my urge to play the double bass.

Nevertheless, it has been a relief to play on the double bass. I am glad that playing music came into my life. It is a therapeutic hobby and way of life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Read: Gut Feelings

I rediscovered that it is a joy to read!

Just before my trip to Ipoh, I borrowed Gerd Gigerenzer's Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making to read. I brought the book along with me to Ipoh, and only managed to complete it a few days after I was back from Ipoh. Nevertheless, it was a rather thoughtful read.

There are some interesting concepts and ideas that I have learnt from reading this book. These are:

- How simple rules of the thumbs, which take advantage of the evolved capacities of the brain, underlies intuition.
- The importance of starting small.
- The interplay between the mind and environment.
- Special gut feelings called social instincts.

It was quite thought-provoking to read about why people seem to have gut feelings to do what they do. I am now hoping to learn more.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It is spring in the northern hemisphere

I am thankful to feel blessed in life.

How does one steer through the darkest time with faith and hope? Share with me please, so that I can learn from collective wisdom.




You Are Blooming Flowers



You are an optimistic person by nature. In even the darkest times, you are hopeful about the future.

You feel truly blessed in life and can sometimes be overwhelmed with emotions.

You have an artist's eye. You are always looking for beauty in the mundane.

You have a good sense of aesthetics, especially when it comes to shapes and color.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 26



Admittedly, I am running out of leads for good mashed potato in Singapore that I can review. Anyway, I realised that mashed potato are used as a topping for shepherd pie, and so I decided to think-out-of-the-box, and reviewed the mashed potato toppping on a shepherd pie. This is only a temporary measure, and I am unlikely to attempt so again.

The Shepherd Pie that you see in the photo is from Secret Recipe. Each is sold for $4.90. I got this from the Plaza Singapura branch. The mashed potato was awfully dry, and did not have the earthy potato taste that I would like. This was strange because when I last visited the Secret Recipe's branch at Marina Square, the mashed potato itself was worth commending. It was strange that the mashed potato on the shepherd pie did not meet up to expectations. Perhaps it was because I was at the branch pretty late at night, and the mashed potato had dried up by the end of the day?

I have learnt from my mistake in my attempt to review the mashed potato of a shepherd pie. Mashed potato on a shepherd pie are part of the pie, and should not be reviewed as a mashed potato dish.

With this post, I wish for my friend whom this series of posts is dedicated to, a refreshing day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fruit Juice test

I did this test, and decided to post my results. May I give you a little energy boost.

There were times in my life when I was feeling very down. I am glad that the results of this test revealed that at this point in my life, I am more optimistic and hopeful. May the Help that I have asked for present itself soon enough. Meantime, I shall do whatever is within my control to set the foundations right.




You Are Orange Juice



You are an energetic, driven, motivated person.

You are always eager to get started, and you face each day with optimism.

You are bright and hopeful. You tend to see what's right as opposed to what's wrong.

You are generous and caring. You're always happy to give someone else a little energy boost!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 12 of year 2009 on the double bass

This week is declared as a week of break from double bass playing. Relatively speaking, it has been a quiet week indeed. Hopefully a short break from playing the double bass will recharge me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I ask for Help

Perplexed, in deep thoughts,
In constant quest
When the lone force strives
Will it be against the currents
Or going with the flow?

What is the bigger plan?
I have no idea.
Humbly, I ask for guidance
And for enthusiasm
To embrace the challenges ahead

Tests come in the form of adversities
They shall make one stronger and wiser
And before darkness wears the heart
May I ask for Help?

The test of warmth




You Are Warm



You are as patient, as outgoing, and as nice as you can be.

You understand people well, and you mostly enjoy being around them.



You are a naturally warm person, but you do have times when you're feeling a bit distant.

But even when you're feeling distant, you try to be empathetic. You always go the extra mile.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My short trip to Ipoh

I have bought my camera but I must have been so focused on sitting for the Music Theory examinations that I did not take a single photograph while I was in Ipoh.

The journey from Singapore to Ipoh was about seven hours by coach. I took a luxury coach service and the coach came with electronic snoozer seats. That helped me get a bit of rest on the coach. Nevertheless, the journey was a bumpy one, so do expect for a bumpy ride.

My examinations were held at one of the classrooms of one of the schools in Ipoh. The classroom brought about nostalgia. It reminded me of my Secondary School classroom, with its wooden tables and chairs.

After the exams, I had Ipoh Hor Fun for lunch. The rice-noodles (Hor Fun) in Ipoh are more smooth and silky than those that I find in Singapore. I was given recommendations by a few locals that the Ipoh Hor Fun from Tian Jing Cha Shi has one of the best Ipoh Hor Fun in Ipoh, and I am glad that I have tried it.

Much of the rest of my time in Ipoh was spent reading. The weather in the afternoon was rainy and I figured reading would better nourish my mind than anything else.

That's all for my trip to Ipoh. I am thankful for a safe trip home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 25



I have had the pleasure on 8 Mar 2009 to have lunch with Carcar. Many thanks to Carcar for her treat to lunch and her lovely company. We had lunch at BBQ Chicken, and I ordered mashed potato to go with the chicken. Carcar was thoughtful and remembered that I was still searching for the best mashed potato in Singapore.

The mashed potato from BBQ chicken costs $3.80 per serving according to the menu, as best as I can remember.

The mashed potato has a smooth texture, and Carcar described it as having a spongy feel. However, yours truly has been tasting and reviewing so many mashed potato that the mashed potato from BBQ Chicken just simply tasted average. It was better than Kenny Roger's mashed potato, but it was not excellent enough for me to want to go back for the mashed potato.

The brown sauce that goes with the mashed potato was on the salty side. Thank goodness that it was not oily. The chicken was pretty nice and juicy, but I don't think I would go back for the chicken since the mashed potato there was just simply average.

Many thanks to Carcar for her treat once again.

***
With this post, I wish for my friend to whom this series was dedicated to, true and wonderful friendships.

***
BBQ Chicken's website:
http://www.bbq-chicken.com.sg

This is a halal-certified restaurant.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two recitals that I will be attending

It is an exciting week and I will be attending these two recitals. Admission to both recitals is free, so do join me to support.


Senior Recital: Yeo Eun-Ju, Double Bass
18 Mar 2009, Wednesday, 6.30 p.m.
Conservatory Concert Hall, NUS, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Admission is free.

************


Senior Recital: Koh Pei Shan Emily, composition
19 March 2009, Thursday, 8 p.m.
Conservatory Concert Hall, NUS, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Admission is free.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

8 Feb 2009: Thaipusam



It must have been due to novelty and the enthusiasm to do a simple coverage of Thaipusam to share with my friends such that I could bring myself to wake up early in the morning of 8 Feb 2009 even though I had slept terribly late at close to 2 a.m. after returning home from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple past midnight.

I figured that the best way to travel to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, which is the start of the Thaipusam procession, would be by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). This proved to be a good choice. The morning sun was already pretty bright. I did not mind that because that meant brighter colours in the photographs that I would take for the day.

I spent about two hours in the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple watching the various religious ceremonies and the preparation for the Thaipusam procession that took place there. I shall let the photographs tell some of the stories.


Lemon lamps.




Milk pots and garlands.


The offerings made.


These are the tools used for the spike kavadi.



Outside the temple, devotees can be seen making their way from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. Most of the devotees did so barefooted. As I watched the devotees in the Thaipusam procession making their journey of faith to their destination, I felt a sense of awe and respect for their devotion and strong faith.

Here is a video that I had taken along Serangoon Road.




Musicians form an important part of the festival even though they are not the bearers of the kavadis. As I witness the procession, I think the music played by the musicians have an encouraging and positive effect on the bearers of the kavadis. It was not an easy journey of 4 kilometres to make from the starting point to the destination. The music, I would think, had in some ways cheered the bearers along when the signs of exhaustion and physical discomforts set in.










I think it is noteworthy to mention the volunteers and sponsors who had set up make-shift tents that gave out free food and drinks to the devotees and members of the public who were taking part in the Thaipusam festival. I thought such gestures were like sharing good blessings with others, particularly those who may not be able to afford a square meal. The provision of free drinks also came helpful to the devotees who were walking their journey of faith to Tank Road as it was possibly refreshing to have a sip of water when one's body gets dehydrated due to the hot sunny weather.




I surprised myself by following the route of the devotees all the way to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. When I reached Tank Road, the queue to enter the temple was very long. I had wanted to leave the queue, but when I enquired, the only legitimate exit out of the queue was to follow the queue all the way to the temple, and then one could find the exit once one is in the main hall of the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. That queue from the start of Tank Road to the exit of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple took me about an hour of patient wait.


I was in the queue outside the temple with the devotees.


Finally, I was inside the temple.


Here is where the kavadis are being dismantled.


By the time that I had taken the exit out of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, my legs were aching. Having gone through the experience of aching legs, I would now strongly recommend that anyone who wishes to join the Thaipusam procession and the journey of 4 kilometres to please start off wth some warm-up exercises before embarking on the long journey. I realised it not only takes physical energy but also a lot of mental discipline to have the determination and faith to walk that long 4 kilometres journey. It was already quite a challenge for yours truly even though I was not carrying a kavadi, and I was walking with shoes on. I am deeply moved by the devotees' strong faith and devotion.

I am glad that I had set aside time to witness the Thaipusam festival for it reminded me that with faith and discipline, what may seem impossible can be achievable.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The pond

By the time that this post is being published, I should be on the bus back to Singapore. I wish for a safe journey back home because now I realised how precious life can be.




You Are a Pond



You are modest, pleasant, and reliable. You are content and confident.

You are harmonious and caring. You truly like other people for who they are.

You are a very genuine, humble person. Because of this, you're very approachable.

You are soft-spoken and a bit sensitive. Your mild personality is a refreshing change for people.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Week 11 of year 2009 on the double bass

8 Mar 2009, Sun: There was orchestra rehearsal. During which, the orchestra rehearsed Emily's About E.C.O, the second and fourth movements from Schumann's First Symphony, and "Autumn" and "Winter" Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

9 Mar 2009, Mon: I practised selected passages from the fourth movement Schumann's First Symphony. Hopefully I would master the passages soon. Afterwhich, I spent sometime playing through the first movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor on the double bass. The new hubby is much easier to play. Soon, I should consider putting up my Korean-made double bass for sale.

11 Mar 2009, Wed: It was double bass sectional with GM before the orchestra rehearsal. I was fascinated when he shared with us about the analysis of the harmonies in a certain passage of the fourth movement of Schumann's First Symphony. Finally, I felt I was a little more confident to play that very movement.

For the orchestra's rehearsal, we rehearsed Emily's About E.C.O. There is maturity in Emily's composition, so it was exciting to be playing it. It is quite a thrill to be playing the work of a friend, furthermore a living composer.

For Schumann's First Symphony, I have found joy in letting go, and being relaxed.

12 Mar 2009, Thu: Double bass lesson has not been productive. I realised my right-hand muscles were strained and tensed due to carrying heavy objects before the lesson while I was at work. Sight-reading greatly needed my attention! I need to sight-read more often music written in tenor clefs. My rendition of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major was far from ideal when the right-hand muscles felt so tensed. I should remember to avoid carrying heavy objects that are beyond my physical capacity.

13 Mar 2009, Fri: I realised I would be playing on the double bass almost every day of the week except Tuesday. There was extra orchestra rehearsal for the day. I was trying my best to project the sound of the double bass to a large hall. I am doing my best to remain positive and centered.

14 Mar 2009, Sat: It is concert day, and of course, I will be playing on the double bass.

Week 12 is declared to be a week of break from double bass playing.

Yesterday's concert



Yesterday's concert was a success. Many thanks to those who have made it possible. My thanks to my friends who have made time to lend their support and presence. I greatly appreciate their sincere support.

The concert yesterday was a special one. Firstly, it was the 30th anniversary concert of the NUS Symphony Orchestra. There was actually a presentation of a montage of photographs of the orchestra over the years. It was presented during the intermission.

Secondly, our guest-of-honour was Mr Paul Abisheganaden who established the NUS Concert Orchestra in 1979. I felt very touched when our current Resident Conductor dedicate Dvorak's Slavonic Dance to Mr Paul Abisheganaden to round up the concert.

Thirdly, it was special because the orchestra was playing a commissioned work, About E.C.O. written by one of my friends, Emily Koh. It was my second time playing Emily's works. The first was when I played her work, Suicidal Tendencies. It was exciting to play her work and to witness how her works have matured over time. Great work Emily! I am now looking forward to attend Emily's Senior Recital that showcases some of her compositions.

The fourth reason to make the concert a special one to yours truly was that I get to play Vivaldi's Winter which was one of the favourite piece of music of a good friend of mine. I have not expected that I had the opportunity to do play for her on stage during the concert itself, yet I did. My heartfelt appreciation to her for attending and supporting the concert. It meant a lot to me for I cherish her friendship. She is possibly one of the few good friends I have known for more than a decade. She is also probably one of those few friends who would have heard how elementary my playing on the double bass had sound when I had first started out playing the double bass more than a decade ago. There is comfort and joy to know that my playing has improved over the years.

The fifth reason was that the ticket sales for the concert was a commendable success. Three weeks ago, we had only 100 confirmed tickets sold. At the day of the concert, we have got more than 900 seats sold. Once again, many thanks to the audience for their support. Last but not the least, thank you for sharing our joy of celebrating the orchestra's 30th anniversary, certainly a New Season.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today's the day




The NUS Symphony Orchestra Presents
A New Season

(part of the NUS Arts Festival 2009)
Saturday, 14 March 2009, 8pm,
University Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Tickets at $15 and $18 (includes Sistic charge)


Yours truly will be performing in this concert later the day. I hope you may lend us your support.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This weekend and more


Once again, the concert is drawing near. The NUS Symphony Orchestra will be presenting its 30th anniversary concert on 14 Mar 2009. Emily will have one of her compositions premiered in this concert. Yours truly will be performing. If you are keen to support, tickets are available from SISTICS.

The NUS Symphony Orchestra Presents
A New Season

(part of the NUS Arts Festival 2009)
Saturday, 14 March 2009, 8pm,
University Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Tickets at $15 and $18 (includes Sistic charge)

****
The night after the concert, I will be taking a bus-ride to Ipoh, Malaysia, to sit for the ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory exams. The ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory exams in Singapore clashes with the rehearsal for the concert on 14 Mar 2009, so I decided to take the exams in nearby Malaysia since the music exams in Malaysia will be held on 16 Mar 2009.

Please wish me a safe journey to Ipoh and back to Singapore. Hopefully good luck and good health will shine on me for the exams. I will be arriving Ipoh at about 5 a.m. on 16 Mar 2009, and then take the exams at 9 a.m. I should be in safe hands. I wish I would be in a state of clear-mind when I sit for the exams.

****
For the week of 15 Mar 2009 to 21 Mar 2009, it is officially declared a week of break from playing the double bass.

****

Since I will be working on the concert, preparing for music theory exams and will be in Ipoh for a short while, this blog will run automatically on its own without the presence of its blog author. Most of the posts that you would see after 13 Mar 2009 would have been scheduled posts. In fact, this post was written on 7 Mar 2009 and will be scheduled to be published on 13 Mar 2009.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What kind of happy are you?

This is an interesting test result which helps me realise why I can find joy in my life.





You Are Affectionate



Your life is full of love and friendship - and you always have more to give.

You have an open heart. You are willing to take that leap and put your faith in people.

You see the good in everyone and everything. You are a very sympathetic person.

The people you love make you very happy. You feel warmly toward those around you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 24



I have been on the mission to hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore. Every attempt to review a serving of mashed potato is an avenue for me to send my best wishes to a friend of mine to whom this series of posts is dedicated to.

In the photo above is the mashed potato from Hog's Breath Cafe located in CHIJMES, Singapore. I was given leads by a few people that the mashed potato from Hog's Breath Cafe was worth a try.

The mashed potato's lightly buttered. It has an earthy, homely and unpretentious taste. In fact, it reminded me of my grandmother's mashed potato in some ways. The mashed potato is nicely patterned and has a welcoming look.

The serving is large enough for two person. I was feeling pretty full after finishing it. While I was eating it, though it was creamy, it did not give a heavy after-taste.

Service there was delightful. Aside from being served water, the best part was that even though the menu did not indicate that mashed potato was sold on its own, the staff gladly offered to allow me to just order one serving of mashed potato. I would have considered eating the steak if not for the fact that I have been consciously avoiding red meat.

Meantime, each serving of mashed potato from Hog's Breath Cafe is $4.65 with GST and service charge.

With this post, I wish my friend, delight!

***

Where to find Hog's Breath Cafe in Singapore:

http://www.hogsbreath.com.sg


HOG’S BREATH CAFE CHIJMES
Address:
Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street, Block A, #01-26/27, Singapore 187996
Tel: (65) 6338 1387
Fax: (65) 6338 6216

HOG’S BREATH CAFE HOLLAND VILLAGE
Address:
267 Holland Avenue, Singapore 278989
Tel: (65) 6466-0145
Fax: (65) 6469-3263

HOG’S BREATH CAFE VIVOCITY
Address:
1 HarbourFront Walk #03-07A VivoCity Singapore 098585
Tel: (65) 6376 8378
Fax: (65) 6376 8372

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

People to be grateful for. Part 8



When it comes to friends whom I am grateful for, often it is not about the very big things that they do, but it is about the many simple things that they do to show that they care. I am grateful to have found a friend in Goldilocks (JY).

JY and I had studied in the same secondary school, the same junior college and the same faculty in the university. Interestingly, we probably got to know each other as friends only from our university years.

Her kindness has touched my heart. Admittedly, my years as an undergraduate were possibly one of the most depressive times in my life. Yet, it was friends like her who have helped make each of those past days more bearable. I vaguely remember one occasion when I was an undergraduate having an extremely bad day and feeling awfully low. I met JY by chance when heading to the Arts Canteen. She said hello to me and initiated a lunch together. It was a simple gesture of kindness, that helped bring a lot of comfort to yours truly who was having a gloomy day.

I thank her for lending her time generously to be one of my first participants when I needed to practise administering the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). The MBTI and Type theories just got me so excited that I could not help but want to have my hands on administering it. She impressed me by going for the accreditation course in MBTI thereafter and administering the indicator to more people than I did.

I am very thankful for JY's companionship. There were many, if not countless times, that she offered her time and companionship. Be it to watch a drama production, a lunch together at the faculty, to lend her listening ears when I needed to sort through some issues close to my heart, and simply a company.

I am also grateful that on one occasion when I needed help to carry the double bass stool for a music-exams rehearsal, she generously gave her time to help me with it. I badly needed help with it for there was no way I could carry a stool with a double bass in my hands.

JY has been a very supportive friend when it comes to my pursuit of playing music in an orchestra. I deeply appreciate her support in attending a number of the concerts that I have played in. It matters a lot to me for I feel a sense of comfort that there are people who do wish to share the joy of music-making. Thanks JY.

JY is a pretty witty lady if one can get to know her better. Well, it can often be an interesting exchange to just communicate with her via writing. I recalled having to communicate with her via ICQ years ago and at times on MSN, and it was a delightful experience interacting with her via writing.

Before I end this post, I would also like to thank her for the many post-cards she has been giving me when she goes overseas. These postcards are like windows to the world that I have yet to see, and they warm my heart that someone cares enough to share the delight of this beautiful world with me. Thank you JY.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The recital to support: Emily's Senior Recital



Emily will be showcasing her senior recital soon. This is a recital to support since Emily is one of our local composers. I will be attending. See you there.

Who will be attending?

Senior Recital: Koh Pei Shan Emily, composition
19 March 2009, Thursday, 8pm
Conservatory Concert Hall, NUS, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Admission is free.

****
Emily's Senior Composition Recital - "Life, Death and the In-Between"

Please join Emily and her friends for an evening of new works, as they explore the human psyche through quotes from the beginnings of western philosophy to modern japanese death poetry.

The colours for the night are pink and black. Please come dressed in these colours.



---------------------------------------------------------------------

PROGRAM (Updated)

Si fallor, sum (2008)
for solo piano
~ Khoo Hui Ling, piano

The foundations of Western philosophy can be seen in ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’), a philosophical statement used by René Descartes in his Discourse on Method (1637). Although the idea expressed in ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ is widely attributed to Descartes, many predecessors offer similar arguments — particularly St. Augustine of Hippo in De Civitate Dei: ‘Si […] fallor, sum’ (‘If I am mistaken, I am’) (book XI, 26).

“For if I am mistaken, I am. For one who does not exist cannot be mistaken either.” - St. Augustine of Hippo

Si fallor, sum is written as a concert-opening piece with its brash opening chords that wakes the audiences’ ears. These chords cast the foundations of the harmonic language and melodic motives to follow in the piece. Si fallor, sum is like a smorgasbord of sounds, created by the organic, spontaneous and continuous development of the opening gesture; like ‘Si […] fallor, sum’ had developed into what we see as Western philosophical thought today.

-----

The Outside (2007)
for violin and cello
~ Qiang Xiao Xiao, violin
~ Ekachai Maskulrat, cello

The Outside was written with the imagery of oneself being imprisoned in a locked room while looking at his/her clone living out life through a closed window, while the clone leads the outside life with absolutely no idea of past, present and future, just like a machine in a human’s body.

This fictional scenario raises important questions about humanity with regards to power, freedom, societal influences surrounding environments, mind, body and soul. These questions are then explored by the violin and cello, who personify are oneself and the clone – same but different, one but not.

-----

Last Words (2009)
for double bass and electronics
~ Emily Koh, double bass

Written as another musical eulogy for oneself, Last Words explores the human psyche through the last words of a myriad of dead people from different backgrounds and times such as, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to in famous Casablanca actor Humphrey Bogart.

As the psyche refers to forces in a human being that influence thought, behavior and personality, Last Words is really a circum-retrospect of one’s concept of self at the very last living moment.

-----

=*intermission*=

-----

At the End of the End (2008)
a chamber opera
for mezzo soprano and ensemble
~ Khor Ai Ming (mezzo soprano solo)
~ Rhoda Wong (soprano)
~ Michelle Yeoh (alto)
~ Gerald Tan (tenor)
~ Harris Ang (bass)
~ Sun Yi (percussion 1)
~ Su Shu (percussion 2)
~ Sun Cheng (percussion 3)
~ Ekachai Maskulrat (cello)
~ Low Shao Suan (piano/electronic organ)
~ Thatchatham Silsupan (electronist)
~ Jun Wong (conductor)

At the End of the End is a fictional account that tells the journey of the main protagonist, She (solo mezzo-soprano) in ‘The In-Between’ – the period of time and space between the end of one’s physical ‘life’ (commonly referred to as ‘death’) and the conclusion of one’s metaphysical being (whereby one ceases to exist anymore).

In At the End of the End, when a human being dies and loses physical form, the metaphysical self of the dead travels to a place called ‘The In-Between’. When She first arrives in ‘The In-Between’, she, with the other people in ‘The In-Between’ are confused and disorientated (I. Who’s There/Someone New). She wanders around her new surroundings and eventually realizes that she has visited this place before, in her dreams, and knows that her being there was because she needed to seek the true meaning of life, now that life has ended for her (II. I’m Here) in the ‘The In-Between’ (III. The In-Between).

While meeting with others, she gets acquainted with different ideas of the meaning of life between different philosophies (SATB Quartet) and different religions (electronics) (IV. The Meaning). Eventually, she meets with a higher power, The Voice (solo mezzo-soprano), oblivious to the fact that The Voice is actually another manifestation of herself. At the end, she realizes who The Voice is and understands that there is no higher power than one’s own being. With this, she becomes (V. Now I have Become), and leaves ‘The In-Between’.


Credit: Image taken from http://www.emilykoh.net/

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Week 10 of year 2009 on the double bass

1 Mar 2009, Sun: During the orchestra rehearsal, we rehearsed Emily's About E.C.O. I am growing to like it more, particularly now that I have somewhat managed to play the first page with greater mastery. Afterwhich, we rehearsed the entire Schumann's First Symphony.

4 Mar 2009, Wed: During the orchestra rehearsal, we rehearsed Emily's About E.C.O and Schumann's First Symphony. Sometimes I could experience the simplicity in Schumann's music. Perhaps life is about learning what is truly important and then savour the simplicity of a joyful life?

5 Mar 2009, Thu: It was double bass lesson day. It was encouraging to hear from my tutor that my vibrato technique has improved. Yeah.

For the lesson, I worked on the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. It is quite an interesting concerto to play. I still need more work to play it in Classical style.

7 Mar 2009, Sat: I spent time working on the first movement of Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. There were times when I wish I could have more time to practise. Afterwhich, I played through the second and the third movements. The new hubby is lovable to play on.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Energy Level test

I am thankful for enthusiasm and I hope that I can find meaningful way to contribute my gifts to this world.




Your Energy Level is High



You are a very enthusiastic, productive person. You have no trouble getting anything done.

Beyond having a lot of energy, it's likely that your energy level tends to be quite steady.

Unlike people with very high energy, you don't tend to be impulsive.

By keeping your energy in check, you are able to use it as productively as possible.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Catching glimpses of Thaipusam at night



After the Chariot procession on 7 Feb 2009, I took some moments of rest before heading to Serangoon Road. The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) became my most reliable mode of transport for 7 and 8 Feb 2009. There was a number of traffic redirection that day and slow traffic was expected along the stretch of Serangoon Road because of the Thaipusam festival.

By the time when I reached the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, it was about 11.15 p.m. There was a crowd inside the temple already. I was pretty tired from the long day. I had woke up pretty early that day for a work-related event and after that, I was travelling from Tank Road to Serangoon Road to Chinatown area, then back to Tank Road and then to Serangoon Road. I was already pleased that I managed to have the motivations to carry myself to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple that night. My original plans were to keep myself awake till 2 a.m. to see the first group of the spike kavadi carriers start their procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. However, by 12 midnight, I realised that I was too exhausted from the day, and had to make some changes to my original plans.

There was such a crowd inside the crowd that I decided to just watch groups of devotees who were carrying milk pots on their head start their procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. While I was watching the procession from the outskirts of the temple, I started conversations with a few Indians. I found out that a suitable time to visit the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple would be in the morning of the next day since the temple would be relatively less crowded by then, and it would be brighter at that time of the day.

Interestingly, I had found out much later that fellow blog-friend, Eastcoastlife, was actually in Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to do a coverage of the Thaipusam festival. If I had known that she was inside, I might have attempted to overcome my fears for crowds and visit the temple. Meantime, please do read the Thaipusam-related posts that were written by Eastcoastlife:
Thaipusam Festival 2009 - WS
Love - RT

Please do read her posts to get a glimpse of what goes on inside the temple that very night.

Meantime, in order to catch a bus home, yours truly walked from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Selegie Road that night. It was a relatively peaceful walk. The route to Selegie Road was also the route that devotees would take to reach Tank Road. As such, I had the privilege to observe groups of devotees making their walk of faith to Tank Road. The volunteers and personnel who regulated the traffic that night deserved a note of thanks to ensuring that the roads were safe for the devotees to travel on.



This is not the end of my Thaipusam related posts. Please stay tuned to find out more.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 23


People have asked me how long I intend to write this series of post on my hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore. The answer is simple, as long as I find new places that offer mashed potato.

Quite a while ago, I visited Nan Tai Eating House at Blk 262 Waterloo Street, and I realised that a Western stall, Faz's Grill, sells mashed potato so I ordered a serving of it for myself. For $1, I got myself a serving of mashed potato from Faz's Grill. By the way, Faz's Grill is a halal-certified Western stall.

The mashed potato has a chunky texture and a homely taste. It was unpretentious. The sauce is plainly nice and not salty. It did not even leave a salty aftertaste. Overall, the mashed potato from Faz' Grill appeals to me more than the mashed potato from many places. It is definitely better than the mashed potato from the following places: Kenny Rogers, Chippy British Take Away, and My Dad's Kitchen.

For $1, this is the most value-for-money mashed potato I have found so far.

With this post, I wish my friend whom I dedicated this entire series of post to, prudence and the joy of simplicity.

***
Update on 12 Jul 2009: I passed by the coffee-shop on 11 Jul 2009 and noticed that Faz' Grill is no longer in operation at Blk 262 Waterloo Street.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sunset is beautiful test

A dear friend of mine remarked that I do not act like my age. I suppose she must have been surprised to see the child-like side of me. Anyway, it was probably her privilege to. Normally, it would be my closer friends who would have the pleasure to experience the expressive and child-like side of me, from time to time. Many people would think that I am awfully serious!?

Do you experience me as child-like or sternly serious?

Whatever it is, I suppose it does take quite some courage and self-confidence to express one's child-like facet when the world mistakeningly think that people who are child-like do not take their lives seriously. I am serious with the people whom I care about and the things that I commit to do. It is just that I have learnt that it often helps to lighten up when necessary, by not taking ourselves too seriously.





You Crave a Blissful Life



Your dream is to live a light hearted, carefree life. You don't want to be bogged down by stress.

You'd like to recapture some of the playfulness and innocence you had as a child.

You believe that life should be about celebrations and fun. The world needs more happiness.

You want to focus on the positive and stay optimistic. It's too easy to get depressed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Music worth listening to



Last week, I had won a pair of tickets to Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Fantasies and Confessions. I thank Candy for taking time to catch the concert with me.

In general, it takes some time for me to appreciate contemporary music, especially when I hear a piece of contemporary music for the first time. However, during the concert Fantasies and Confessions, I was particularly drawn to James MacMillan's The Confession of Isobel Gowdie. I can't fully describe what makes the music moved me. It just did so!

The music is inspired by this story: In 1662, Isobel Gowdie, from Nairn in Scotland, was strangled at the stake and burned in pitch after having confessed to being a witch and consorting with the devil.

For me, it is hard to understand how people can grant themselves the power to judge others and assert pressure to get others to make absurb confessions. If she was killed in the end, it could be as good as murder. A murder that mistakenly appeared justified.

Overall, James MacMillan's The Confession of Isobel Gowdie has left a powerful impression in me. Out of my usual self, when I was listening to this work, I actually found myself loving dissonance!

Do listen to this BBC programme where the composer, James MacMillan, speaks of the work The Confession of Isobel Gowdie:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/discoveringmusic/pip/7j5qe/

Also see the composer's notes here:
http://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/catalogue/cat_detail.asp?musicid=3115

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Chariot procession



This post continues from my previous post on my participation in Thaipusam 2009 as an observer. I visited the Thaipusam Heritage Corner when I was in Serangoon area and learnt quite a bit about the festival of Thaipusam.

Thanks to the information that I had gotten from the Hindu Endowment Board's website, I have learnt that there was a Silver Chariot Procession that would take place at 6 p.m. from the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple along Keong Saik Road. The most convenient way to reach Keong Saik Road on 7 Feb 2009 was by the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). It was also the fastest way to get to Chinatown since there were a number of road closures taking place on 7 Feb 2009 because of the Chinatown lights-up events and the Thaipusam festival.

7 Feb 2009. It was the first time in my life that I witnessed a Silver Chariot Procession. Prior to the event, I mustered enough courage to mingle with the devotees to learn more about the festival. I saw devotees carrying trays containing coconuts, banana and grapes. I was told that these items are offerings to the Gods. The coconut and the banana both symbolise purity.


Outside the temple, I was lucky to witness a part of the rituals that were to take place before the Silver Chariot Procession. Devotees were waiting outside the entrance/exit of the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple waiting for the idol of Lord Murugan to leave the temple. An observer can easily sense the devotees' strong sense of devotion to their God.



Video taken just outside the temple.



While I was waiting for the chariot procession to start, I noticed that there were men carrying kavadis on their shoulder. I had learnt from the Thaipusam Heritage Corner that I had visited much earlier the day that kavadis can come in various shapes and sizes. Some devotees actually carry their offerings of milk for Lord Muragan with their kavadis. Many of the devotees, if not most, were barefooted. I think that it will require much perseverance and strength in the devotees to carry and walk long distances with their kavadis.





I learnt a bit about a group of Indians known as the Chettiars and their close association with the Thaipusam festival while I was conversing with a few of the Indian devotees. The Chettiars are Tamils who originate from South India. This group of Tamils migrated to Singapore in the early 19th century and many became money-lenders here. I went to do some research and found that the temples which were both the starting points and the ending points of 7 Feb 2009 evening's Thaipusam Silver Chariot procession were both under the management of the Chettiars' Temple Society. Both temples were built by the Chettiars.




Meantime, while I was waiting for the Silver Chariot Procession to start, it was interesting to reflect on how Thaipusam has progressed with times. A few decades ago, the chariot was pulled by animals. Today, a vehicle would be used to pull the chariot.




When the chariot procession started, I followed it from Keong Saik Road to Maxwell Food Centre. Along the way, my ears were tuning in to the songs and music that were sang and played throughout the procession.


The start of the procession.











The Chariot procession was actually heading for the Bank of India along Robinson Road and D'Almedia Street. Eventually, it would be scheduled to reach Sri Thendayuthapani Temple by 9 p.m. I realised I needed a break, so I left the procession and headed to Chinatown area for a refreshment break. Afterwhich, I walked all the way from Chinatown area to Tank Road.

When it was close to 9 p.m., I was luck to spot the Chariot procession heading back to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. It was an inspiring sight to see how much reverence that the devotees have of Lord Murugan, as I watched the procession. If you would like a glimpse of the procession, please view the humble video-recordings that I had taken that night.









After catching the Chariot procession reaching its destination, I took an hour's rest nearby Clarke Quay before heading to Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road. I am glad that I had made time to have a first hand experience of Thaipusam.


References:

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Week 09 of year 2009 on the double bass

22 Feb 2009, Sun: It was orchestra rehearsal to rehearse "Autumn" and "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I must have been not in the optimal shape to play. My fingers had difficulties managing the trills required in "Winter". Hopefully good health returns.

Back at home, eager to practise on my double bass, I practised selected passages from Emily's About E.C.O, Schumann's First Symphony, "Autumn" and "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Afterwhich, I worked on Marcello's Sonata in G major.

23 Feb 2009, Mon: The new hubby would need some rework, yet it is pleasing to hear. I worked on the third movement from Marcello's Sonata in G major. Afterwhich, I played a section from Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro and Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. I am loving the sound of the double bass.

25 Feb 2009, Wed: We had double bass sectional. I have been missing double bass sectional with GM for a long time. We worked on Emily's About E.C.O and for the first time in my life, I felt I could finally have enough confidence to manage the complexities of the work. We also worked on the fourth movement of Schumann's First Symphony.

After the sectional, the orchestra rehearsed Smetana's The Moldau and Schumann's First Symphony.

26 Feb 2009, Thu: Finally, I could have the chance to bring the new hubby to the lesson. Many thanks to my tutor for helping move the sound-post to a better position. The hubby sound much better after a slight shift in the position of the sound post. I played Faure's Apres Un Reve. It is amazing how much easier it is to play on hubby. The challenging thing is that it sounds so nice and responds so well that it accentuated the anxieties and self-doubts that I have within me. I was rather anxious while I was manipulating the bow. I have to learn how to simply sing music from the heart using the double bass.