Singapore! A Musical Celebration (SAMC) enters its 6th installation this year with a non intermission concert tonight at the Esplanade.
Joining the Singapore Wind Symphony (SWS) on stage is local heartthrob Nathan Hartono, who became Sing! China runner up last season. He will be featured alongside jazz singer Joanna Dong, and contemporary singer Joel Yeo in a full pops program.
“I knew Adrian Tan (conductor SWS) from more than a decade ago. We have both grown in our careers, and he has gone from conducting chamber groups to a wind band. It is a lovely reunion for me to join him on stage again,” said Joanna, when asked about the idea behind this collaboration.
“I usually sing with a jazz group, which is either a quartet or quintet. This is a luxury for me because I get to work with 30 odd players and a full brass section. It sounds so full, and very different for me!”
The wind symphony will open the concert with Mohammad Rasull‘s arrangement of ‘May You Achieve Happiness‘, based on the Children’s Day song ‘Semoga Bahagia‘. This is followed by two medleys of local TV drama themes and Xinyao, before Joanna takes the stage.
“Singing with a full instrumentation forces me to rethink how I should approach the song. Like Starlight (星光) which is rearranged into a wind band version, it has a different feel as compared to jazz. Without the agility of a small group, I have to think about the song and how to make it sound grand in order to match the band. Creatively and artistically, it is a challenge.”
Joanna has recently returned from the second season of Sing! China, in which she was handpicked by a blind audition to proceed to the next round. She sang a jazz rendition of ‘戀曲1990‘ (Love Song of 1990), complete with a “mouth trumpet” solo that impressed the three out of four coaches which came forward.
“As I was not able to rehearse with them till today, they had made the efforts to arrange the music, and export the music demo for me to practice. Even though we did not start off with gelling straightaway, the beauty was that we worked out the issues and at the end of the rehearsal, found something to be more than the sum of its parts,” said Joanna, who is appreciative of the wind symphony’s efforts to accommodate her traveling schedule.
“I don’t play any instruments except that mouth trumpet which you have heard. I always rely on someone to bounce off ideas from – I hear a line from musicians and it inspires me to sing better or in a different way. It is all very rich and fertile materials for me as a singer.”
As part of the program, Nathan will be performing his 2016 single, titled ‘Electricity‘, and newest track ‘She‘. Joel will be doing a cover of ‘Save Me’ by Singaporean singer-songwriter Gentle Bones. SWS will then round up the evening with ‘Singapura Medley‘, a work most apt for the Nation’s upcoming 52nd birthday.
“I look forward to more collaborations with different bands and orchestras. The sound is very shiok! Unlike in musicals where we do not have the budget to hire the whole orchestra, I can feel my pores and skin vibrating from the brasses. It is an awesome feeling which you cannot achieve with a smaller band.”
“A bigger band may require more patience, time and efforts to gel together, but the pay off is very worth it!”
Songs of the Sunny Island
16 July (Sunday)
Esplanade Concert Hall, 6pm
Tickets: $15 ($8 for Students, NSF and Seniors)
Tickets available from SISTIC
A contributing editor at TBP.