Hi Benjamin! What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Hi! Lately, I've been busy with rehearsals and performances as this iscurrently also the peak period of SCO, we had our opening season concert, participation in the Singapore Chinese Music Festival and concert, participation in the Singapore Chinese Music Festival and most importantly the Chamber Charms: Night of Percussion concert. There is also a significant amount of logistical and administrative work to prepare for, like instrumental planning and choreographing the movements for the concert itself. So there's a lot of work to be done for the concert, and not just practicing and performing. But of course, practice also takes a huge part of time, because I also have a few solo parts here and there. To sum it up, it's a busy period with a lot on my plate.

This particular Chamber Charms focuses on percussion instruments, which typically isn’t the main focus during orchestra concerts. What is it like having a concert that now puts percussion in the spotlight?

It's been some time since we've had the opportunity to take the centre stage exclusively as the percussion section, as our role in the orchestra typically involves blending into the overall ensemble sound. So, to have an entire concert dedicated to showcasing the percussion section is something different. Physically, it is also quite demanding and staminal challenging to perform an entire concert focused on percussion repertoire. However, this is not entirely foreign to us. During our student days, we had more opportunities to perform percussion-centric pieces. As we transitioned into orchestral jobs, our focus naturally shifted towards playing orchestral music on a weekly basis. So, coming back to the spotlight as a percussion section in our own concert is both interesting and nostalgic.

Walk us through the creative process behind setting up thisperformance. What were some of the highlights and challengesyou had?

The repertoire chosen for this particular concert has its own individual challenges. For The Rodent's Wedding, being one of the more traditional types of percussion music, it requires a lot more musicality, it requires quite a bit of acting, and it also requires the musician to be able to portray the characters that are being portrayed in this storytelling piece of music. We then have three other pieces that are quite modern. A piece that is focused around 5 musicians that features almost all the common Chinese percussion instruments in the Chinese orchestra settings. The composer uses different types of techniques to create all sorts of sounds, traditional and new, and try to blend them together.

How does working on this Chamber Charms concert compare working on an orchestra concert? Are there any differences or similarities you can share with us?

One significant difference is the constant engagement in a chamber concert. In this setting, all musicians are actively playing throughout the performance. Each member plays a crucial role in telling a musical story and contributing to the overall narrative. It demands a high levelof involvement and a continuous presence from everyone on stage. In contrast, the orchestra concert setting often has moments where percussion players might not be playing continuously. Typically, our parts are composed to provide support and emphasis at specific musical punctuations and phrasings. While it may not be that physically challenging playing in orchestra, it requires lot of focus toplay throughout a piece consistently.

What can audiences expect from this upcoming concert? Are there any standout pieces that everyone should look forward to?

Our audiences can look forward to a vast array of repertoire, encompassing various types, genres and performance energies, and well as traditional and modern compositions that employs different types of percussion instruments. For example, The General is a duet, combining East and Western percussion, that will be played by myself and a colleague. This piece employs some of the most basic Chinese percussion instrument, put together with the Marimba; a melodic Western Percussion instrument. 

There is also a percussion quintet (a group containing five members) performing a piece called Sound Games. As its name suggests, the audience will also be able to hear lots of unique and interesting sounds of percussion instruments being explored together.

What do you hope audiences get out of Night of Percussion?

I hope that audience members leave the concert with a deep appreciation for the beauty and versatility of percussion music, and be inspired by the unique sounds and stories we convey through our performances. Ultimately, I hope this concert leaves a lasting impression and sparks curiosity for further exploration of percussion music in our audience's hearts.


Chamber Charms: Night of Percussion will be happening on 22 September at the SCO Concert Hall. Tickets, priced at SGD 30, are available for purchase here.


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