The Times Have Changed

Making a return to the stage is the Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM), whose upcoming concert this Friday features offerings from two very different but familiar names.

“Having a real live wind performance made up of fantastic wind musicians feels surreal. After all, it has been uncommon to hear a real live wind performance these days, not to mention literally working with one! As much as we are working hard to prepare for the performance, every rehearsal feels like a celebration, a time to enjoy blending the different sound of wind instruments together. I am just filled with gratefulness to all the different organizations and individuals who worked so hard to make this concert possible,” Associate Conductor Seow Yibin said.

Yibin will be leading the orchestra in the Singapore premiere of Shore’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier Harmoniemusik‘ by Strauss, featuring woodwinds and horns.

Music Director Chan Tze Law will be conducting the world premiere of ‘Symphony for Brass and Percussion – The Times Have Changed, composed by award-winning Singaporean composer Lee Jinjun.

“Firstly I must say it is a huge privilege to be conducting the premiere of Lee Jinjun’s new work. There are a number of reasons why this is a special moment. For a start, this is the first time OMM will premier a modern Singapore work of symphonic proportions,” Tze Law highlighted.

“Secondly, with brass playing so restricted since the start of the pandemic, this aptly titled work hopefully heralds their return to more regular live performances and finally, the composer was also a founding member of OMM and it’s fitting that through this work he expresses the many emotions all of us in OMM and beyond felt over the last few difficult months,” he continued.

Tze Law further expressed that the work is a programmatic tribute to the victims and unsung heroes of the recent pandemic, as the listener is taken on an highly emotional music journey which, in a compact four movement form, expresses emotions that can be easily related to as a reflection of our changed world.

“To me, these include a sense of dread and despair, a call to arms, calm and stoic human response changed times interspersed with introspection and anguish, before the light of hope in the form of a perpetual motion like final movement, moving us from remembrance to a newfound confidence in human kind and an heroic close.”

Similar to what composer Jinjun had in mind, it was the pandemic that led him to think about the stages that humanity goes through in a great calamity; from shock, denial, to grief and hope and ultimately a strong recovery, all of which he has embodied into a four-movement symphony.

“I’m so glad that this work is to be performed in a live concert, in front of a live audience. I’m also happy to be finally playing music in a big brass group! We’ve been waiting for nearly two years now for this opportunity, and it has been nearly half a year since I played for a live audience – these are precious rare moments now.”

The ongoing pandemic has definitely disrupted the performing arts scene over the last two years. Despite the challenges, bands and orchestras continue to find new ways to adapt to this new normal, from downsized concerts to online streams, seeking to keep audiences interested in their music.

“It has really forced us to rethink about performances, in addition to the ways of the old, to also embrace new possibilities, and play pieces that we would never have considered in the past as well. Some interesting projects include new rearrangements of various pieces for string orchestra, such as Schubert’s Erlkönig,” Jinjun said.

“I think the pandemic helps us realize the absence of live music making hurts more than we know. Every musician need to speak through music. It is like what Warren Benson says about art: something in humankind…(since time begin) that requires the human to put a decoration on the handle of the knife, a design on the blade of an oar, a configuration on the exterior of a ceramic pot. It requires that one sing to be born and sing to die; sing to eat and sing to plant and sing to be together and sing when alone,” Yibin added.

“Due to the need to share music, pandemic also drives us to explore viable ways of sharing music, making interdisciplinary, non-musical skills necessary. I was recently encouraged by a comment from an old conductor wanting to learn how to edit recordings. Pandemic taught us that we need to continue explore new knowledges to express the art of old.”

Indeed, the times have changed.


Presented by Orchestra of Music Makers
Music Unmasked

Friday, 1 October 2021
Esplanade Concert Hall, 7.30pm

Tickets: $15, $20
Tickets available from here

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