Friday, September 27, 2013

Read: Wu

Title: Wu: The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Become a Living God
Author: Jonathan Clements
Publisher: Sutton Publishing  (2007)

This is a book which I would probably not have taken off the library's shelves on a usual day. I do not have a particular interest in Tang dynasty. Yet more than a month ago, my involvement to play in a Chinese Opera production where the story was set in the context of the Tang dynasty during the period when Empress Wu was alive, somehow triggered my curiosity to learn more about the history of this period in time.

I would have turned to a book that was written in Chinese since the subject matter was Chinese history. However, I was not familiar with the library's new catalogue search system and there was limited books on the topic of Tang dynasty and Empress Wu at the nearest library to my home. In the end, Jonathan Clement's book became my reading material for the week.

The author drew from original Chinese sources and revealed the life of Wu very systematically and clearly. While reading the book, it became clear that it is rather complex to truly figure out from the records what kind of person Wu really was. Anyway, after reading this book, I am of the opinion that Wu is a remarkable lady given the context of her time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

9 Jul 2013: The SCL Festival Preparation

Konzerthaus. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

On the afternoon of 9 July 2013, together with the rest of the orchestra members participating in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival, I arrived at Wiener Konzerthaus to prepare for the SCL Festival Gala Winners Concert that would take place on the same day in the evening.

Each of us received a ticket that would allow us to enter the Wiener Konzerthaus. As I received the ticket, there was a brief moment of wishful thinking on my part that I had wished our orchestra could perform at the SCL Festival Gala Winners Concert. Yet, on the positive side, perhaps things do happen for a reason. I was feeling thankful that I have gained a lot of meaningful experiences from my participation in the festival.

Rehearsing the singing of the Festival Anthem.
Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

During the afternoon's preparation for the Gala Winners Concert, all the participants of the festival was led by Markus Obereder, the conductor for the event, to rehearse the Festival Anthem. It was uplifting to listen to Festival Anthem being sung.

Eduard Strauss. Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

After singing the Festival Anthem, there was a lecture by Eduard Strauss, a descendent from Strauss' family. The title of the lecture was "A Journey into the history of the Strauss family and the Waltz". I do wish I was more energetic to remain fully awake throughout the lecture to assimilate the words of wisdom from Eduard Strauss. The late nights and the long day had in some ways worn me out. I was essentially listening to Eduard Strauss' lecture with lots of winks and mental rests in between.

After the lecture, there was an opportunity for all the participating groups to take a group photo at Wiener Konzerthaus. I am impressed how the organizers could get so many participants to come together to take group photographs.

After the group photographs, there was some time for the participants to either prepare for their performances at the Gala Winners Concert or to catch a light meal.


I went to a nearby eatery together with a few other members of the orchestra to enjoy a simple meal. I shared a Sacher-Torte and some servings of ice-cream with Rose M. The Sacher-Torte is essentially a chocolate cake that is thinly coated by hand with the best quality apricot jam. There is a coat of chocolate icing on the top. Sacher-Torte is usually served with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream.

After the short break, we headed back for the Konzerthaus.

It was a very eventful afternoon indeed!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Read: The Sound of Music Companion by Laurence Maslon

View source: goodreads

Title: The Sound of Music Companion
Author: Laurence Maslon
Published by Pavilion

After a recent visit to Salzburg in July 2013, I became more intrigued with The Sound of Music Companion. On my way on the flight from Munich to Singapore, I decided not to sleep and stayed awake to watched the Hollyword film production of The Sound of Music.

Subsequently, when I reached Singapore and was visiting one of the libraries, I could not help but to borrow a copy of a book entitled The Sound of Music Companion. This book is the official companion to the world's most beloved musical. It includes a copy of the movie soundtrack CD.

The book charts the life of Maria Von Trapp. It also compares the life of Maria with the musical version of her story.

What was most interesting for me was to read about the evolution of The Sound of Music, from real life to theatre production to film and more. I especially appreciate the copy of the movie soundtrack CD. It seemed like if I were to visit Salzburg, I could get myself a gift of a DVD of the film. An endearing film with beautiful music.

Friday, September 06, 2013

BUKIT BROWN CONVERSATIONS : Ukelady (The NUS Ukelele Girl) meets Ukebaba

Have you heard about the girl who sings and plays the ukelele on the NUS (National University of Singapore) Shuttle Bus to make NUS and Singapore a happier place?

What will happen when Teng Yen Lin aka the NUS Ukelele Girl visits the Bukit Brown Cemetery?

Check out this music video: The Ukelady (The NUS Ukelele Girl) meets Ukebaba!
If you enjoy this video or music, please 'like' it and share it. Thank you!

To read about how this project was initiated, please visit the following two links:
A Music Video for Bukit Brown

9 Jul 2013: The tour of the Schonbrunn Palace

After a guided tour of the Vienna city, our orchestra visited the Schonbrunn Palace on 9 Jul 2013. The Schonbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence in modern Vienna. The name "Schonbrunn" means "beautiful spring" and its origin can be traced to an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court.

When we entered the palace's grounds, I was asked to deposit my backpack at the bag-deposit area. Perhaps there is merits in travelling light? Whatever it is, nothing would stop me for being delighted by the splendour that greeted me when I stepped into the interiors of the palace. Many of the interiors of the palace were decorated with gold ornaments. These gold plated interior furnishings seemed to be made to last for eternity.

Aside from the gold plated interior furnishings, the interior of the palace was decorated with paintings, murals and exquisite furniture. As we strolled about the palace's rooms under the supervision of our tour guide, we learnt more about the Habsburg's monarchs, from Maria Theresa, to Joseph II, to Leopold II, to Francis II, to Ferdinand I to Franz Joseph I.

Photography was not permitted in the interiors of the palace. Please enjoy the photographs of the palace's façade.

Lunch was with wonderful company of friends in a cafe within the grounds of Schonbrunn palace. I ordered a slice of apple strudel served with Vanilla ice-cream and a plate of Viennese sausages. While the food was nice, I would have preferred mash potato and more. Then again, I was happy that I could announce to everyone that I have tasted Viennese sausages in Vienna.

Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

Photo courtesy of Terence Low.

Vienna has brought me beautiful memories. I hope to visit Vienna in the future.