Leading up to its performance at the prestigious 2024 WASBE conference (Korea), Philharmonic Wind Orchestra will perform a concert titled “Flying High – Beyond Our Islands’ Shores” for its Singaporean audience on 23 June 2024 at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

With a repertoire not to be missed, the concert will be helmed by its long-time Music Director Dr Leonard Tan, and it will also see the return of its renowned Principal Guest Conductor, Dr Timothy Reynish MBE.

We are looking forward to flying the Singapore flag high by bringing a uniquely Singaporean programme to the world stage! The title – Beyond Our Islands’ Shores, is a reference to flying beyond the shores of Singapore for WASBE,” said Dr Leonard Tan.

The concert will open the first half with the blaringly loud, heat-stopping Asphalt Cocktail, that according to composer John Mackey, is an opener designed to shout, ‘We’re here.’ The work, dominated by cross-rhythms and back beats, aims to capture the grit and aggression that the composer associated with the time he lived in New York. Imagine the scariest NYC taxi ride possible, with the cab skidding around turns as trucks bear down from all sides – definitely not for the faint hearted!

Following the five minute opener is Sonata for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble, featuring PWO-alumni and Taiwan Philharmonic trumpeter Chong Loo Kit.

Originally written for trumpet and piano, this version by Kent Kennan features three movements, namely ‘With strength and vigor’, ‘Moderately fast, with energy’ and ‘Rather slowly and with freedom’.

“I chose the piece because when I first heard it, it was played by Najib Wong with the Philwinds in 2004. That was my first exposure to the piece as I was playing the trumpet in the band at that time. The impression of that piece was so good to me.” Loo Kit recounted.

“I feel happy to be seeing everyone in Singapore again. Everyone still look the same; we all have fun together, and that’s awesome!”

Closing the first half of the concert is Spanish Dances by Luis Serrano Alarcón, which will be conducted by Dr Timothy Reynish MBE, a longtime friend of PWO since 2004.

“Alacón, I think, is probably the greatest wind orchestra composer of today. He has taken the rhythms and melodies of typical Spanish dances, and developed them through his own aesthetic ideas to compose this exciting and passionate work. The first movement Petenera is very energetic and fast. The second movement Zortziko is very lyrical; and the last movewent is a Jota, which is probably the most popular Spanish dance form,” Dr Timothy explained.

“Apparently, I have been working together with PWO since 20 years ago. Seven concerts in Singapore, one in Taiwan, and two in Spain. It’s been wonderful all that time, developing, particularly, our relationship with great repertoire. The orchestra always plays great repertoire, and it’s been marvellous. It’s probably my favourite wind orchestra, and it’s one of the great civilian wind orchestras of the world. I’ve got to know so many of them. It’s just like making chamber music with friends. It’s something very special.” he shared.

The second half of the concert will feature three distinct Singaporean works.

Daybreak and Sunrise is the only work for wind band by the late Mr Leong Yoon Pin, who has been described as the doyen of Singapore composers.

As a composer focusing on contemporary classical music, Mr Leong Yoon Pin was a connoisseur of Chinese Literature and local ethnic folk songs, rooting to his fervent belief in Singapore’s multicultural society. This work was the first locally composed SYF set piece in 1992, and features tonal, oriental tunes and tones.

PWO will then take on a newly commissioned work betwixt and between by Lee Jia Yi, which juxtaposes construction noises and distorted harmony, portraying the composer’s memory of Singapore’s soundscape.

The title of the piece translates loosely to ‘neither here no there’, and explores the liminal spaces between noise and pitch, and transitions between harmonies. It is an encapsulation of many mixed feelings of the composer, who spends many years abroad and living in between cities.

The finale of the concert, features the wind orchestra premiere of The Sisters’ Islands by Wang Chenwei, a symphonic poem inspired by a local legend of the title’s namesake.

Written by the composer at age 17, the work won the Singapore Composer Award at the 2006 Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition. and won the Singapore Composer Award at the 2006 Singapore International Competition for Chinese Orchestral Composition. This piece has been widely performed and recorded in various arrangements, most notably at Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural National Day concert in 2018.

Comprising four sections, this is really a colourful composition that uses novel instruments such as the rebana, the ocarina, and the conch!” Dr Leonard Tan highlighted.

The audience is in for a real treat as this concert features not just one work, but six distinctly different sound worlds. This is not an ordinary wind band concert,” he said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime concert not to be missed! Come fly high with us!”

PWO Presents:
Flying High — Beyond Our Islands’ Shores
WASBE 2024 Pre-Tour Concert

23 June 2024
Esplanade Concert Hall, 7.30pm


Written By Editor

A contributing editor at TBP.