Inuits will paint the town red this weekend

20 08 2015

The highly anticipated Singapore Night Festival is back!

One of the highlights of this year’s festival has to be the appearance of the world’s smallest and perhaps the most lovable Inuits, Anooki (Anook and Nooki). The Inuits, the creation of David Passegand and Moetu Batlle, have come all the way from France to run riot and paint the town, of rather the façade of the National Museum of Singapore. red, green, purple and blue and put a smile on the faces of the the crowds that will descend on the museum’s front lawn on the weekends of 21/22 and 28/29 August.

Annoki Celebrate Singapore on the façade of the National Museum of Singapore.

The Anooki wreaking havoc on the façade of the National Museum of Singapore.

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David Passegand and Moetu Batlle.

David Passegand and Moetu Batlle.

The Inuits, which are said to have taken the animation world by storm, will feature in one of several performances specially commissioned for the jubilee year edition of the Singapore Night Festival. The fun and energetic projection, Anooki Celebrate Singapore, will anchor the festival’s Night Lights – a popular segment that promises to be bigger and better this year. Night Lights also sees several other light installations colour the night in and around the museum. One, Cédric Le Borgne’s le Desir et la Menace brings the huge banyan tree in front of the museum to life with giant illuminated bird wire sculptures. Another, Drawn in Light by Ralf Westerhof, recreates sights typical of Amsterdam using rotating illuminated wire frames suspended above the ground.

Le Desir et la Menace.

Le Desir et la Menace.

Drawn in Light.

Drawn in Light.

Inside the museum, Night Light offerings include And So They Say and A Little Nonya’s Dreams. The former is a documentary project that features interviews with 25 senior citizens that will also be seen at SOTA, DECK (at Prinsep Street) and the National Design Centre. The latter, sees three animators come together to individually interpret a little’s girls’ dreams.

And So They Say.

And So They Say.

From A Little Nonya's Dreams.

From A Little Nonya’s Dreams.

Playing with fire … and light over at the Singapore Art Museum, will be the Starlight Alchemy, an audience favourite and regular feature at the Singapore Night Festival. This year, sees the locally based group perform a specially commissioned Alchemy that tells of the reconciliation between Apollo from the world of Ethereal Light and Nuri from the world of Ethereal Flame, in another must-catch performance.

Fire ....

Fire ….

... and light meet at the SAM.

… and light meet at the SAM.

Other performances to catch include Goldies, who will take us back into Singapore’s musical world from the 50s to the 80s in a ticketed performance; Fields in Bloom, which sees flowers glowing in a spectrum of colours on the steps of SOTA and the Lorong Boys – 5 award winning Singaporean musicians who perform in both the concert hall and on the streets. Another interesting performance to catch is Lost Vegas, which features the giant puppets of Frank Malachi – an award winning puppeteer based in Singapore.

Meet Christine, who will be seen in Lost Vegas.

Meet Christine, who will be seen in Lost Vegas.

3 of the 5 Lorong Boys.

3 of the 5 Lorong Boys.

Flieds in Bloom.

Fields in Bloom.

Goldies.

Goldies.

The Singapore Night Festival 2015 runs over two weekends (Friday and Saturday nights), on 21 and 22 August and on 28 and 29 August, from 7 pm until 2 am. The festival will be held across 5 zones, the National Museum of Singapore, Armenian Street (which will again be closed for the festival), the House of Glamour (at the field across from the Cathay), the Festival Village at SMU and the Singapore Art Museum and Queen Street (including the National Design Centre, DECK at 120A Prinsep Street), Waterloo Street and SOTA). Besides light and music performances, festival goers can also look forward to lots of food offerings. More information on the festival can be found at the Singapore Night Festival Website at which a Festival Guide can also be downloaded.

Singapore Night Festival creative director Christie Chua.

Singapore Night Festival creative director Christie Chua.

 

 

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The Feast of Fools

24 12 2013

A scene that is one of several that celebrates the musical Notre Dame de Paris, currently playing at the MBS MasterCard Theatres, is possibly The Feast of Fools. Accompanied by the confused frenzy of movement, it is at this point that sees the introduction of Quasimodo, the well-known character of the tale behind the musical many would be familiar with from their childhoods, who in the scene is crowned the King of Fools.

Belle, one of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical.

One of three scenes presented during a media preview of the musical, during which the popular song, Belle, was sung. The musical features Matt Laurent as Quasimodo (L) and Alssandra Ferrari (R) as Esmeralda.

It is not the Quasimodo that in the wake of Disney’s retelling of Victor Hugo’s novel that many would recognise. The same can unfortunately be said of the storyline or the lack of it in its musical version. Except for a few popular music numbers such as Belle, it would probably be better remembered for what has to be said, was a impressive display of dance.

Another scene shown during the preview - Refugees - which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Another scene shown during the preview – Refugees – which again was more about the dancing rather than singing.

Certainly for me, the musical did not quite live up to the hype that surrounds it. Whatever my impressions are, the musical is still quite a watchable one and certainly one that does provide some entertainment value – that is if you need some extra to distract you this Christmas season. The musical, which opened on 17 December 2013, will see its run in Singapore extended to 11 January 2014. For more information and also for ticketing, do visit the Marina Bay Sand’s page for the musical, or the SISTIC website.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.

Esmeralda (Alessandra Ferrari) in Live.


More on the musical (from a press release from its Singapore opening):

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Singapore – 17 December 2013 – The musical spectacular Notre Dame de Paris, which has become a phenomenon around the world cutting across generations, opens tonight at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Grand Theatre. Performed for the first time in Singapore in English this majestical show tells the story of Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Esmeralda the Gypsy girl, in one of the most powerful love stories in history on par with Romeo and Juliet.

Since premiering in Paris, France in September 1998, the musical has attracted audiences of more than 4 million in France alone and broken box office records in Canada, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and South Korea surpassing 10 million spectators while combined sales of soundtrack and cast albums have reached the 10 million mark.

Notre Dame de Paris has been staged over 4000 times in 20 other countries, including Italy, Great Britain and the United States, receiving standing ovations every night.

Faithful to Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre Dame de Paris, the show tells the emotionally charged story of the unfortunate Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral Bell Ringer, the hunchback Quasimodo, and his hopeless devotion for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. Phoebus, the untruthful soldier and Frollo, the priest torn between his faith to God and his desires will compete for Esmeralda’s love. While Clopin, the leader of the refugees or underclass, and Gringoire the poet will try to save Esmeralda.

The musical spectacular is the creation of lyricist Luc Plamondon and composer Richard Cocciante, whom have both won numerous awards for their work and is directed by Gilles Maheu. The English lyrics were written by Will Jennings, Oscar-winner for “My heart Will Go On” from the smash-hit film Titanic.

“It’s a well-known story which stands up on its own and doesn’t need to be explained. That’s why there are at least a dozen films based on the Victor Hugo novel, from the silent era to the recent Disney animation,” said Luc Plamandon.

Reminiscent of The Beauty and the Beast and presaging The Phantom of the Opera, Notre Dame de Paris remains a poignant and powerful myth with some of the interwoven storylines being more relevant today than ever: asylum-seekers, racism, the role of religion, the fear of the unknown and man’s place in an ever-changing world.

Riccardo Cocciante beautiful melodies will leave a long lasting impression on local  audiences. Featuring more than 54 vivid arias of operatic beauty and rock resonance, the characters are brought to life through stunning vocal performances and visual spectacle – courtesy of the show’s seven principal artistes and 24 dancers and acrobats.

The show will feature acrobatic contemporary dance choreography by Martino Muller, renowned modern dance visionary, contrasting with a beautiful love story moments to create an audience experience reminiscent of French cirque. Dancers appear to be flying across the stage under fantastic arcs, freely incorporating gymnastics, contemporary and even break dance moves into their repertoire – at one moment whirling across the floor in a series of pirouettes, and the next tumbling from a bungee rope high above the stage.

The show will be presented on a grand scale at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. The modern impressionistic stage set features a 12 metre high ‘climbing wall’ representing the façade of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame as well as the famous Bastille prison in Paris. This amazing edifice is also the platform for a series of stunning acrobatic routines that will leave the audience breathless.

Notre Dame de Paris, the musical spectacular, stands out because of the masterful staging and artistic integrity of director Gilles Maheu, who has revived the 170-year old story with contemporary touches and deft inspiration incorporating choreographies by Martino Muller and costumes designed by Fred Sathal and set by Christian Ratz.

The English language album, featuring the main stars of the London production, also features guest star Celine Dion singing “Live for the One I Love”.
Hit musical, rock-show, opera, concept-album or gothic melodrama, Notre-Dame de Paris retains traditional theatrical elements while using modern staging techniques and choreography to present eternal, universal, mythical tales and themes.

About Notre Dame de Paris

  • First opened at ‘Palais des Congres’ theatre in Paris in September 1998
  • Based on the novel ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ written by Victor Hugo in 1831
  • Sell-out tours in France, Canada, England, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, America, Italy, Monaco
  • 4000 performances over 20 countries and seen by more than 10 million people.
  • The most sensational and successful musical in France, Italy, Belgium and Russia
  • Taking Europe by storm, “Notre Dame de Paris’ opened in London at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May 2000, following previews which opened on 15 May 2000.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, Notre Dame de Paris still holds the record as the show with the most successful first year of any musical ever produced.

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In a beautiful mess of her own creation

1 06 2013

One of the things I was able to do during the recent Indie music festival, Music Matters Live with HP 2013, was to catch a few of the local acts. One act which came at the recommendation of a friend, was that of singer/songwriter Natalie Hiong, who I also had a chance to have a short chat with after her performance on the final evening of the three day festival.

Natalie Hiong

Natalie Hiong

Blessed with great looks and a great voice, there is probably nothing about Natalie not to like. I did find her music very likeable as well. Simple, bright and cheerful, her melodies and lyrics are easy to listen to and I enjoyed every bit of her brief appearance at Beer Market during which she performed songs which featured in her second EP, Beautiful Mess.

Natalie and her band at the Beer Market during MML 2013.

Natalie and her band at the Beer Market during MML 2013.

It is in the title track of the five track EP where Natalie speaks of the beautiful mess of her “own creation, awash with colours of fear and excitement”, which she does find herself in. It is a mess she got herself into a little more than two years back, quitting a two year investment banking job in London she found herself bored in, admitting that she would have quit earlier if the bonuses paid at the end of the first year had been better.

A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), Natalie does admit to being something of an academic high-flyer – which does make it a lot more unlikely for her to take the path she has. Trained in classical music, it was her involvement writing music for a student produced musical, “Excess Baggage”, in her second year in LSE in 2007 which provided her with the yearning to pursue a career in music – again admitting to wanting very much to quit her studies there and then to allow her to do just that.

In her beautiful mess.

In her beautiful mess.

With two EPs under her belt, Natalie is now working towards her goal of recording a full album – which she hopes to complete next year. It is also her dream to get into the musical scene, having had acquired a taste for it with Excess Baggage, as well as in her writing the lyrics for the recently concluded magic themed musical Incanto which played at Resorts World Sentosa. I did also have the chance to ask Natalie if her parents were supportive of the choices she has made. “They are”, Natalie says, “they always knew I was going to go into music, it was only a question of when”.


More of Natalie:






I (certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

27 05 2013

What is probably one of the biggest rock acts to perform in Singapore is Aerosmith, the legendary rock band said to be “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, took to the stage on Saturday in the second of two Singapore Social Concerts. The concerts held as part of the inaugural Social Star Awards, the first of which featured social media stars such as Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, CeeLo Green and Blush, took place at what is proving to be a wonderful outdoor concert venue, The Meadow at the Gardens by the Bay.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on stage at The Meadow.

The Aerosmith concert was without a doubt the highlight of what was a great week to be a music fan in Singapore, following hot on the heels of the annual Indie music mayhem, Music Matters Live, held earlier in the week. Watching “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” must could as an huge experience for anyone, fan or not. It is live on stage where the rock band’s lead, Steven Tyler, find himself in his element. Now sixty-five years of age, the energy levels he exhibited on stage all through the performance, must have been equal to that of a hyperactive child six decades his junior. Armed with his his trademark microphone stand, – streamers and all, he left even those who weren’t moving as vigourously as some of the more youthful members of the crowd I found myself squeezed  in next to, breathless.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive six year old.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive five year old.

It was in all a mesmerising performance, which made the long wait for the group to appear on stage, well worth the while. Scheduled to start at 8 pm, things only got moving at 8.20 pm with the opening act, Euphoria Audio. The rock band from Wakefield in the UK did a wonderful job of getting the crowd in the mood with some wonderful numbers of their own. Led by Matt Shirty, with Ben Lloyd and Ben Hughes on guitar and Josh Hughes on drums,  the band entertained for some 40 minutes.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Matt Shirty.

Matt Shirty.

It was another 40 minutes after the initial Euphoria have left the stage before the so-called Bad Boys from Boston, made their entry with Steven Tyler, appearing at the end of catwalk-like to the stage which placed him right into the heart of the crowd. Dressed in a hat, red glasses and a sequin studded jacket (which he later threw into the screaming crowd) with scarves draped over it, he would not have looked out of place in a theatre act, wielding the microphone stand with the words “lick me” at the bottom of its base almost as if it was a part of him.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Steven Tyler.

Steven Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars - was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars – was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

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The band which goes back more than four decades, does on the evidence of the crowd, have a following here spanning the generations. At what probably was the highlight of the concert, the delivery of their greatest hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the 1998 movie Armageddon, a large portion of the 10,500 strong crowd – many who looked like they were in their teens (or just out of it), moving with the music and singing along at the top of their voices.

Joe Perry on guitar behind his back.

Joe Perry on guitar getting to work behind his back.

While it might have been the flamboyant Tyler who stole the show the rest of the band wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. Joe Perry gave a masterclass, particularly in going back to basics revisiting the Blues. There was also two guest appearances with Japanese beatboxer Hikakin and hip-hop dancer Marquese Scott making an appearance late on during a rendition of “Walk This Way”. It seemed like it only just started when Aerosmith’s first full concert, which did go on for an hour and fifty minutes, did as all good things have to – come to an end with a grand piano wheeled down the stage for the encore of “Dream On” which was followed by “Sweet Emotion”. When the end did come, many in the crowd, myself included certainly would have loved to dream the concert on. And if they do come to town ever again, borrowing from the title of their biggest hit,  I (most certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing!

More of Joe Perry.

More of Joe Perry. 

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

The many faces of the flamboyant Steven Tyler during Saturday’s concert:

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K-Pop Night Out

26 05 2013

K-Pop and Korean music fans in Singapore had a treat on Friday when six different acts performed at Clarke Quay. The acts were that of two fairly new Korean girl groups, Ace of Angels (AOA) and SPICA; a rock group, Eastern Sidekick; a hip-hop quartet, M.I.B; a pairing of Jazz guitarist Park Juwon and blind harmonica player Jeon Jeduk; as well as R&B diva Lena Park. They were performing in a K-Pop Night Out segment of Music Matters Live with HP 2013 (MML) which drew hundreds of screaming fans who packed the area around the Fountain Stage at the Central Fountain Square.

K-Pop Night Out at MML featured two Korean girl groups which included SPICA.

K-Pop Night Out at MML featured two Korean girl groups which included SPICA.

Jeon Jeduk (L) with Park Juwon at the Fountain Stage.

Jeon Jeduk (L) with Park Juwon at the Fountain Stage.

Park Juwon.

Park Juwon.

Jeon Jeduk.

Jeon Jeduk.

The Fountain Stage.

The Fountain Stage.

Ace of Angels.

Ace of Angels.

Eastern Sidekick getting the crowd moving.

Eastern Sidekick getting the crowd moving.

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Oh Joo Hwan of Eastern Sidekick.

Oh Joo Hwan of Eastern Sidekick.

Guitarist from Eastern Sidekick.

Guitarist Go Han Gyul from Eastern Sidekick.

SPICA.

SPICA.

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Fans were out in full force.

Fans were out in full force.

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

M.I.B

Lena Park.

Lena Park.





Music Matters Live with HP 2013

23 05 2013

Going on until tomorrow evening (24 may 2013) at Clarke Quay is the latest edition of Music Matters Live (MML), Music Matters Live with HP. Part of the award-winning Digital & Music Matters Conference 2013, the three evening event brings more than emerging 50 bands representing some 20 countries to Singapore.

Music Matters Live with HP 2013 opened at Clarke Quay last evening.

Music Matters Live with HP 2013 opened at Clarke Quay last evening.

Carlos Castaño opens the three day music festival.

Carlos Castaño opens the three day music festival.

Opening the event last evening was a great first act from Filipino soul singer, Carlos Castaño who was followed on the Fountain Stage by Indonesian YouTube sensations Gamaliel, Audrey and Cantika (GAC) and Singapore’s rap and hip-hop artist Kevin Lester. It wasn’t just the acts at the Fountain Stage which had the feet of the audiences tapping – there were performances at various other venues including Singapore singer/songwriter Sarah Cheng-De Winne – a nominee in the 12th Independent Music Awards, as well as acts from some unusual origins. One that came on at the start at China One was what is the first pop and hip-hop girl group to come out of Myanmar, the Me N Ma Girls (ex Tiger Girls).

Another shot of Carlos Castaño.

Another shot of Carlos Castaño.

The Me N Ma Girls from Myanmar.

The Me N Ma Girls from Myanmar.

Kevin Lester.

Kevin Lester.

The party continues this evening with a line-up of some 43 bands at the six venues. Judging from the crowds last year, the highlight for many would probably be on tomorrow evening at K-Pop Night Out which will feature the likes of R&B diva Lena Park, a pair of girl groups AOA and SPICA, Eastern Sidekick – an indie rock band, an idol group M.I.B and jazz artistes Park Juwon and Jeon Jeduk.

Sarah Cheng-De Winnie at Fern & Kiwi.

Sarah Cheng De-Winnie at Fern & Kiwi.

The final evening will also see a showcase of our local talent which will see a line-up of local indie bands appear. These include Electrico, Plainsunset, Kevin Lester and The Observatory, as well as the very raw The Summer State, Natalie Hiong, These Brittle Bones and The Sam Willows.  MML 2013 is supported by the National Arts Council (NAC) as well as YouTube, Singapore Tourism Board, Media Development Authority, Pacific Beverages, Fender, Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), and many others. More information can be found at www.musicmatterslive.com and https://www.facebook.com/MusicMattersLive. The event can also be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/musicmatters and at the official Youtube channel is http://www.youtube.com/user/musicmatterstome.

The crown being warmed up at the Fountain Stage.

The crown being warmed up at the Fountain Stage.

Venues and Schedules (click to enlarge)

Fountain Stage Schedule

Music Matters Live 2013 - Programme Booklet A6 closed - 2013.05.

China One

Crazy Elephant

Fern & Kiwi

Music Matters Live 2013 - Programme Booklet A6 closed - 2013.05.





The Russians have landed

4 10 2012

It is always nice to discover a rare gem. One that I had the great pleasure of finding just last week is certainly a rarity – a group of dedicated musicians who produce strains that would seem more at home in the jazz clubs of New York City, than in Russia where they ply their trade in. Here for a one evening only performance at the School of the Arts (SOTA) concert hall, ‘Jazz Encounters of the Russian Kind’, the group included the esteemed Yakov Okun on piano, Sergey Golovnya on sax, bassist Makar Novikov, Alexander Mashin on drums and with Anna Buturlina on vocals.

Jazz Encounters of the Russian Kind.

Yakov Okun being introduced – although classically trained, his father boasts of a father which was a renowned jazz pianist from the Soviet-era.

It is indeed rare to find jazz musicians in Russia, I discover from a brief chat with Yakov Okun at the end of the concert that there are only a handful of jazz practitioners in the country. Although trained in classical music, Yakov Okun can boast of a pedigree in Russian jazz – his jazz pianist father Mikhail can perhaps be seen as a pioneer in the Soviet-era Russian jazz scene. The spirit of the early Russian jazz scene during a time when the only way to learn to play jazz required trying to replicate what was heard over American radio broadcasts, does live on in Yakov and the new generation of jazz musicians represented by the talented group that he brought along on what was a first excursion to Asia. Among the group, the highly talented Alexander Mashin does perhaps embody the spirit of the Soviet-era musicians, having learned much of the amazing skills he demonstrates on drums in his late teens all on his own.

Alexander Mashin who is a member of the MosGorTrio an extremely talented self-taught drummer.

Makar Novikov on bass and Sergey Golovnya playing the saxophone.

Attending a jazz concert is always a foot-tapping encounter for me, and it was no different through the thoroughly enjoyable concert, which I am sure the thin audience it attracted must have also done. The 75 minute concert started with a repertoire of Soviet-era pieces which Okun, Novikov and Mashin – the original members of the MosGorTrio, combined to good effect with Golovnya who gave a masterly performance on saxophone. The second part of the concert brought Anna Buturlina to the stage during which she lent her delightfully smooth voice to familiar American jazz favourites.

Anna Buturlina a leading Russian jazz vocalist lent her voice to the second part of the concert.

This first fleeting encounter with Russian jazz was one that certainly deserved a much bigger audience than it attracted. It does however promise more. The two men who brought the group in, Mr Michael Tay, Executive Director of the Russia-Singapore Business Forum and Singapore’s former ambassador to Russia; and Mr Evgeny Tugolukov, Managing Director of RusSing Holdings, have a shared passion for jazz. It is also their hope that this can serve as a platform to develop Singapore’s jazz scene. With the increased visibility for a genre of music that is hard to tire of that the efforts would certainly bring, it can perhaps also be that platform that will help the two fulfill a vision of seeing a regional jazz festival take root in Singapore.

Another of Anna Buturlina and Makar Novikov.