This blog is intended to provide the space to write down my ideas, reflections, feelings, thoughts and whatever I would like to share. It shall also lend some access to part of my inner-world. Please be gentle with your comments about my posts. Thank you.
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The Singapore Arts Festival 2008 will be held from 23 May to 22 June 2008. This festival began "in 1977 as a national arts festival celebrating local arts activity of Singapore’s diverse communities." Over the years, it has evolved.
For some reason, I am beginning to find the programmes of the Singapore Arts Festival for the past few years not to my preference. I have yet to have an urge to purchase ticket for any event.
Alright, I am awfully biased. One of my favourite performances of the Singapore Arts Festival was the workshop and the concert by the L'Orchestre de Contrebasses in the year 2000. It has been a long time ever since a double bass ensemble or a double bass soloist has performed in one of the main events of the Singapore Arts Festival. Here's a video of this double bass ensemble playing two different pieces on the double bass. Do catch it!:
**** Meantime, I would like to point you to the Opening Celebrations of this year's Singapore Arts Festival:
Water Fools Ilotopie (France) Part of the Water Wonders Series
23 - 25 May, 8pm Boat Quay Free
Phantasmagoric and whimsical water creatures loom from the river, as fireworks unfold in an aquatic extravaganza. Giant mechanical sets that turn everyday objects into fantastic machines look set to wow audiences, as they take the man beyond the wildest dreams of his humble car ride into a dazzling opening show at the Singapore Arts Festival.
If you like water and fireworks, this performance will be something that may fascinate you.
20 Apr 2008, Sun: I sight-read an exercise. Afterwhich, time was spent practising the first movement from Dittersdorf's second concerto yet again.
21 Apr 2008, Mon: I sight-read a study from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Book One. I practised it for a while to get a more clearer sound and articulation. After that, I played the first and second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major from memory. I made a few mistakes, but after a few take, I actually felt I was a little more spontaneous and sensitive in my playing when I was playing from memory compared to playing while looking at the scores.
I worked on a short section from Dittersdorf's second concerto. Admittedly, the fingers of my left hand were working very hard to play that very section on my double bass.
23 Apr 2008, Wed: I played a few exercises from Hartley Double Bass Solo Book One. After which, I played yet again the first and second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major from memory. I am needing a nicer tone on the double bass. The left little finger is feeling jerky and weak again. Hopefully that is temporary.
I continued to work on selected sections from Dittersdorf's second concerto. The greatest challenge was for my fingers to stop the strings right to the fingerboard at the higher positions. However, I am sure it will be much easier to do so on many other double basses.
24 Apr 2008, Thu: Double bass lesson focused on working on the first movement from Dittersdorf's second concerto. My tutor, MJ, instructed me that for practising purposes, I should play "on the string" so as to gain greater control of the use of the bow. After gaining greater control, then I can be freed to play off the string just by letting the bow bounce naturally when I play the movement.
After half-a-day of work this afternoon, I headed for the Peranakan Museum on my own. Yes, the Peranakan Museum is now officially opened to the members of the public. Noel has a post on Yesterday.sg with a link to the various events for the Opening Festival of this museum.
Visitors to the Peranakan Museum have to be prepared to queue up to enter the museum. For this weekend, admission to the museum is free. I suppose that drew the crowd. I was thankful that I only had to queue for less than 10 minutes before I was allowed to enter into the museum. There seem to be a longer queue by the middle part of the afternoon.
At the open space just next to the Perankan Museum, there was a bazaar. Visitors can purchase Peranakan food and crafts at the bazaar. In addition, one can even learn how to make a few Peranakan dishes at the bazaar. In addition, various cultural performances were being staged on the stage that you would see in the photo right below. I had to wear ear filters throughout the bazaar as the noise from the speakers was too loud for me.
Interestingly, inside the museum, visitors can be treated to BABAS & NONYAS – Live Drama in the Museum!, produced by Dick Lee, who himself has Peranakan roots. BABAS & NONYAS is a live drama in which the actors interact with the visitors. The actors would share anecdotes of either the exhibits on display or of the Peranakan culture. It seems like BABAS & NONYAS will only be performed during the weekends of the Opening Festival of the museum, during specified timings.
There are quite a number of interesting things to learn at the museum. There are a total of ten main galleries in the museum. One entire level of the museum is dedicated to the wedding ceremonies and preparations of the Peranakan. At the museum, one can also learn more about the dining customs of the Peranakan, and the lives of a few of the prominent pioneers in Singapore's history with Peranakan roots.
As there was too large a crowd today, I decided to just have a quick glance at the exhibits. I suppose I could visit the museum on another day when it is not as crowded.
Meantime, this is one museum that one can visit in Singapore to learn more about the culture of the Peranakans.
I have been feeling pretty drained today. To the extent that I did not feel like talking to anyone for much of the earlier part of the evening. However, feeling drained did not leave with any feeling of satisfaction either. I felt like screaming from inside since afternoon from the draining feeling.
I suppose the best thing that had happened was that there wasn't much noise that I had to subject myself to for much of the day. Thank goodness. At least the day has been bearable, and is about to pass.
I have heard about the concepts of eating the proper diet for one's blood type. I can't fully comprehend how it would help when one is eating the right diet for one's blood type. However, it seems like my general health has improved when I eat more vegetables, and consciously eat lesser meat and prawns.
When I took a closer look at what would be considered proper diet for my blood type, I realised that it didn't require a drastic change in my diet. In general, I tend to like most of the food that is recommended for people of my blood type to take.
At this very same spot where the Asian Civilisation Museum (Armenian Street) used to be, and where the former Toa Nan School used to stand in the distant past, the new Peranakan Museum will open. On 26 - 27 April 2008, there will be free admission to the Perankan Museum from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors will also enjoy a series of activities that brings one to learn more about the Peranakan heritage.
There will also be more interesting events and activities lining up during the weekends of May 2008 to celebrate the opening of this very museum. Do check it out.
There are times when I felt lifeless even when I am actually living. I am on this personal reflection to list down some of the things that could make me feel alive. Hopefully, I could do more of the things that make me feel alive.
(not in any order)
1) Rehearsing with the orchestra, and playing music that I can relate to. 2) Practising on the double bass and experiencing moments of "practising-highs". 3) Walking along scenic places and feeling in touch with one's self. 4) Sketching, with full concentration, something that I could connect with. 5) Actively listening to a person, and seeking to understand his/her perspectives of the world. 6) Analysing and integrating information. 7) Writing an article (e.g on Yesterday.sg) that is of interest to me. 8) Sharing nuggets of information about Singapore or its heritage that makes Singapore an interesting place to learn about. 9) Reading something that is relevant to me at a point in time. 10) Learning something that captures my interest.
13 Apr 2008, Sun: I played some pieces from Hartley's Double Bass Solo Book One hoping to work on improving the sound of my playing. However, the exercise felt rather unfruitful. It was a challenge to achieve the kind of sound I wish on my double bass.
14 Apr 2008, Mon: I spent some time playing scales to work on achieving a legato bow technique. Afterwhich, time was spent practising one of Dittersdorf's concertos.
15 Apr 2008, Tue: I started with sight-reading the second movement of one of Dittersdorf's concertos. Afterwhich, I continued to practise the first movement of the same concerto.
17 Apr 2008, Thu: It was great to have double bass lesson. Finally, I could work on something else other than Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. For the lesson, most of it was spent working on the first movement from Dittersdorf's second double bass concerto. This very concerto kept making me feel that I need a better double bass. It has been quite a challenge playing this concerto on my own double bass because of the set-up of my instrument. My fingers have to work doubly, and possibly triply hard on my own instrument as compared to the double bass in the music school.
20 Apr 2008, Sat: I did one sight-reading exercise. Afterwhich, I worked on selected sections from the first movement from Dittersdorf's second double bass concerto.
Here is a post on a current exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum: The exhibition: Xu Beihong in Nanyang written by yours truly. Do support by reading the article and giving me your pointers. Thank you.
Xu Beihong in Nanyang is jointly organised by the Singapore Art Museum and the Xu Beihong Art Museum (Beijing). It showcases 90 artworks created by Xu Beihong in the 1930s and early 1940s.
A Pair of Horse. This work was a gift of the Tan family to Singapore's Asian Civilisation Museum, in memory of the late Dr Tan Tsze Chor. Special thanks to the Singapore Art Museum for the permission to take non-flash photography of the exhibition.
Admittedly, the day has been rather frustrating. Nothing particularly that had happen during the day was the trigger for the frustration. Life just felt frustrating because it felt somewhat like a cul de sac. How does one find a way out of such conditions?
Despite the frustrating moments, there are some blessings to count. I am grateful to my friend, Mystic, for taking her precious time to call me on the phone. It feels comforting to realise that there is a friend who would be there to lend a support. Mystic seemed to be radiating so much positive energy during the phone conversation that her energy wore off the gloominess in me for quite a while. Perhaps she can share her secrets of how she could radiate so much positive energy?
Maybe the simple blessings in life are what keep one afloat when life seems to be taking one on a very deep plunge?
6 Apr 2008, Sun: I practised a few tunes from Hartley's Double Bass Solo 1. Afterwhich, time was spent practising Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. I have alos spent about ten minutes working on the vibrato technique.
7 Apr 2008, Mon: After sight-reading a few studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Book One, I practised part of the first movement of Dittersdorf's Concerto. The goal was to produce clear sounds and well-articulated notes.
8 Apr 2008, Tue: I sight-read a few studies, and focused on playing the rhythms accurately. I was feeling tired from the day, so I kept the practice session short.
10 Apr 2008, Thu: I started with sight-reading. However, as it was not my first time sight-reading those exercises, I could manage playing those exercises much better than the previous time that I had done so.
After which, the rest of the time was spent refining my rendition of Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro.
While having lots of things to do may not necessary ward away the low moods, I suppose doing things that I think was worthwhile may lead me nearer to something fruitful.
In the morning, I visited the Singapore Art Museum to catch the Xu Beihong in Nanyang exhibition. I will be posting an online article on the exhibition soon on Yesterday.sg, so do keep a look-out.
Afterwhich, in the afternoon, I was at the National Museum of Singapore to attend a seminar that was titled It's about routes, not roots. (Singapore 1820s - 1860s) by Iskander Mydin. I have learnt quite a few things new about Singapore of that period. One thing that I have learnt was that the Spanish dollar was the international dollar that was used during those times for trading at the Southeast Asian archipelago.
After the seminar, I spent some time in the late afternoon at the National Library of Singapore, specifically at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, to read a book on Xu Beihong.
Dinner was simple. Afterwhich, I was delightfully treated to an educational SSO Pre-concert talk by violinist, Seah Huan Yuh. Seah gave his independent yet interesting views on Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, Op. 14. I particularly like how he analysed the composer's approach to the second movement of the violin concerto. The speaker even did a demonstration of a short section from the second movement on the violin. By the end of the talk, I felt I have had a better appreciation of the compositional ideas behind the concerto.
Seah did such a good job that I think SSO should consider engaging him once again for future SSO Pre-concert talk, especially those involving a violin concerto.
The night in some ways concluded with the SSO concert, Sweet Sorrows. The orchestra's rendition of Mahler's Fifth could be considered commendable. Afterall, I personally think that Mahler's works are challenging to play and to interpret. For myself, I suppose I would still need more exposure to be able to better appreciate the musical language of Mahler and even Barber.
This evening, one of my good friends introduced me to Green Connection, one of the eateries acknowledged by the Health Promotion Board as a Healthier Choice Restaurant. It was my first time dining at Green Connection, and I was pleased to know that it is located at a fairly accessible place, within walking distance from Clarke Quay, at Merchant Square.
I could say that my friend was thoughtful to be mindful that I have of late been having the appetite for healthy and nutritional meals. I later found out that Green Connection is an eatery that is committed to provide nutritional and healthier food. What else could I say except words of thanks to my friend for suggesting to have dinner at Green Connection?
Frankly speaking, I felt awfully spoilt for choice when I was looking through the menu. After spending much time deliberating, we eventually decided on the following orders: Oatmeal Ebi, Baked Gado-Gado, 3 types of Mushrooms with Broccoli, olive rice and brown rice.
The Oatmeal Ebi is actually a vegetarian dish that is probably meant to imitate the common local dish known as Oatmeal Prawns. When it was served, both my friend and I could sniff a delightful oatmeal fragrance from the dish. When I took a bite on the vegetarian ebi, I was taken by surprise that vegetarian ebi could taste so nice. The texture was just nice. If my friend had not tell me that it was a vegetarian dish, yours truly might have really believed her.
Without the cholesterol that comes with real prawns, I dare say that I am willing to forgo eating real prawns, and substitute them with the oatmeal ebi from Green Connection. Cooked with dashes of chilli padi, this dish has a spicy tinge to it. Even though the "ebi" were fried, but somehow they weren't as oily as I had expected. I could say that the Oatmeal Ebi from Green Connection is a healthier alternative for folks who like eating oatmeal prawns but yearn for healthier diets.
Oatmeal Ebi, one of the specialities of Green Connection.
Closed-up of Oatmeal Ebi.
How did the chef make such lovely food from vegetarian ingredients?
My friend told me that the Gado-Gado was one of the dishes that I should try at Green Connection. At $4.80 per dish, it was an affordable dish to have. There is something special about the sauce. I don't usually eat Gado-Gado but I do find the sauce to be refreshing. The more I ate the Gado-Gado with the sauce, the more I was enjoying the dish. My friend told me that the sauce is homemade using almonds and cashew nuts. I can see that the choice of ingredients is both creative and nutritional.
My friend and I had not expect much from the 3 types of Mushrooms with Broccoli. We had initially thought it to be a merely regular ala carte dish. However, to our pleasant surprise, the mushrooms (especially the dark-coloured ones) were delightfully fresh and juicy. The broccoli has a nice fresh taste, and has a crunchy yet not too hard bite to it.
3 types of Mushrooms with Broccoli
Over dinner, my friend told me that she is attracted to the clean and peaceful ambience of the eatery. I like its simple and peaceful set-up. I also like the soothing music that was being played at Green Connection. My friend said that the music reminded her of the soothing music that are often played in spas. Given its ambience, it was an affordable place to unwind and enjoy healthier food.
By the end of our dinner, we were both very full. Our sumptuous yet healthier dinner cost each person less than $15. The service provided was thoughtful. Without us even having to ask, extra sets of cutlery were being placed at our table for our use.
I found out that Green Connection also serves Organic Brown Rice daily sets at an affordable price of $5 per set. Who says eating healthy food can't be affordable?
If anyone of you happen to be nearby Merchant Court and have a craving for healthier food, do check out Green Connection.
The harmonica is a free reed wind instrument (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica). When I was a lower Secondary School student, the harmonica was choosen to be the instrument that all students of the level has to learn for our weekly compulsory music lessons.
The thing I can remember about blowing the harmonic is that notes are made by blowing air into or drawing air out of the holes of the harmonica. It can be quite a challenge, and I personally think that it is an even greater challenge to obtain a nice sound on the harmonica.
I have had the pleasure to get myself a few CDs of the recordings of Harmonica virtuoso, Maestro Yew Hong Chow, performing on the harmonica. I managed to listen to a few tracks of one of the CDs, before my CD player started giving problems. Anyway, Maestro Yew challenges the listeners' ear to discover the beauty of the sounds of harmonica. The clarity and beauty of the sound from his rendition will make it worthwhile to have a copy of one of these CDs.
I found out that two of the CDs were actually recorded in the 1970s, and later converted to digitised format. As such, listeners will be treated to what can be considered historical recordings from the 1970s. It will be interesting to hear glimpses of the musical journey that Maestro Yew has went through over the past decades.
This CD was a gift. Many thanks for it.
The works that are being performed in the above three CDs include: Fisherman's Song, J.S. Bach's Badinerie, Butterfly Lovers, Kangding Love Song and more. I have yet to listen to all three CDs, but so far, my personal favourite is Under the Silver Moonlit Night.
All the CDs that you see on this post are available for purchase at S$10 each. It is an affordable price for anyone who are interested to have a collection of original recordings of music performance on the harmonica.
I understand that the CDs are available from:
Harmonica Aficionados Society (Singapore) 21B Smith Street, Singapore 058 935 Email : email@example.com Website : http://www.harmonica.org.sg
30 Mar 2008, Sun: Are there time when one does not have to mood to practise, but discipline urges one forward?
Anyway, I did a sight-reading of one of Bottesini's studies. Afterwhich, time was spent practising Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. Concentration level was not optimal.
31 Mar 2008, Mon: I practised a few tunes from Hartley's Double Bass Solo 1. I need to work on achieving better bow-change.
2 Apr 2008, Wed: I practised a section from the first movement from Capuzzi's Concerto in D major. I needed my work on the semiquavers passages.
Afterwhich, I practised part of Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. Realising that I am beginning to lose the sense of novelty in the music, I stopped.
3 Apr 2008, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I sight-read studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass Book One. Although I had to sight-read a few studies that were in the key of E major and Ab major, it was slight much easier than sight-reading exercises with rhythms that are not straight-forward.
After that I continued to work on Berkeley's Introduction and Allegro. Now I could hear how the soundscape of this work was probably intended to sound like. My tutor reminded me to work on improving my vibrato technique.
My music theory tutor has on many occasions reminded me of the concepts behind the augmented sixth chords. However, it seems like I need some more time understanding the concepts, memorising the characteristics of the various types of augmented sixth chords, and recognising the type of augmented sixth chord when I encounter one.
At the level of Grade 8 ABRSM music theory, student must recognise and identify the following three augmented sixth chords: Italian augmented sixth, French augmented sixth and German augmented sixth.
Aurally, I have yet to be able to distinguish the differences between the above-mentioned three augmented sixth chords.
Using stamps to illustrate the contributions made by some of the prominent figures in history, Dr Tan Wee Kiat, Noel Hidalgo Tan and Victor Koo, bring the blogging world yet another series of blog-posts from the contents of their latest book, Singapore Stamps: Remembering VIPs.