Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lets learn K-drama OST

Yesterday was my second meetup for Korean Language. The first one was about shopping tips in Korea with Olivia. This one was a different theme - K-drama OST. The song we were about to learn was "Every Moment of You" by Sung Si Kyung, one of the OSTs from "You Who Came From The Star".

The meetup was held in the AAC building in Bugis. There's a Hangeul Centre there. When I reached at about 10 minutes before the scheduled time, I headed to the second floor to register. Greeted me with a bright smile was Rebekah Lee, the son saeng nim (teacher) for the day. I found out that this centre was called Hangeul Korean Language School and they have just established over two months. Rebekah passed me their brochure and they offer regular classes, conversation classes and K-drama classes. K-drama class is something like today but with more variety such as learning dialogue in the drama, skits and OST. They develop their own syllabus and materials.

Today's meet up was about one and a half hour. We started off with Rebekah introducing their school. Then we proceeded with the song learning. Rebekah had her slides prepared with romanized pronunciation and English translation. She played the video of the song (drama version) and there was a scene in which Cheon Song Yi said to Do Min Joon "백일...". Rebekah explained that 백일 means hundred days and Korean couple celebrate the first 100th day of dating. We then continued to learn the lyrics of the song and after that we sang along with the MV. It was kinda challenging for me because my Hangeul reading is not very fluent yet. After a few tries we got the hang of it and the final sing along was without the singer's voice. I thought we did pretty well.

It was really fun attending this K-drama OST class. Rebekah is planning to have another one in the next few weeks. Looking forward to that.
Hangeul Korean Language School Brochure
Fun lesson with Rebekah Lee
Variety of courses offered including standard class, conversation class and K-drama class

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My First Andre Rieu Concert

Andre Rieu, the famous composer-conductor-violinist was in Singapore for the first time yesterday! I used to watch his Johann Strauss Orchestra concerts in Vienna on TV and wonder whether I have the chance to watch him live. Yesterday, Chong and I were lucky enough to have this opportunity.

The concert was scheduled to start at 8pm. We arrived at the Singapore Indoor Stadium at about 6.45pm. It was raining and there were no shelters from the Stadium MRT to the Indoor Stadium. Fortunately the rain stopped. Chong brought along his DSLR only to find that it was not allowed and we had to deposit it at the counter before entering the venue. Inside the stadium was a stage set up for the occasion. As we approached 8pm, the stadium started to fill up but still there were notable gaps. In fact, the few seats next to me were empty. Not sure whether it was because it was held on a Wednesday or just not many people knew about this. As was in his other concerts, Andre Rieu and his JSO entered the venue from the back with marching music at the background. From there on the concert has already begun. I can't help but noticed one of the female choir. I think she is an Asian. Stunningly beautiful. When the cameras were on the choir I can't resist to look towards the giant screen to get a closer look on her.

One of the early highlights on the concert was the doll performance. Andre was joking that there was an Uncle John in the audience who celebrated his 99th birthday yesterday. However there was no such Uncle John when he called out and he jokingly said that "Ow...he couldn't make it". At first we did not really know how to react because we thought there was really such person. However, he continued that they brought Uncle John a gift which was a human-sized doll, carried out by one of the crew. Only when the doll started to sing that we realized it was a real human. A soprano. She was extremely talented and can hit the high notes with ease. Of course, there were lots of side jokes as usual.

Just before the intermission, the tenors and sopranos joined the orchestra to perform "You'll Never Walk Alone". Everybody was like "Oww..." It was such a great song. Being a Liverpool fan, of course I knew all the lyrics! It never fails to give me goosebumps whenever I heard it.

After the break it was the time for Waltz! The highlight was none other than The Blue Danube composed by the King of Waltz Johann Strauss. He encouraged us to dance along with the Waltz and a few couples did so. If I had a girlfriend I'd definitely do that too. It was so romantic to dance along with a live orchestra conducted by Andre Rieu. And towards the end of the concert - the song that we all anticipated - the Radetzky March. Midway through the song, balloons were released from the top and came falling down on us just like what we saw on TV. We really had a fun time punching the balloons in the air. Clearly no one was in the mood to go home yet. Standing ovations after standing ovations were replied by a series of encore performance. If I remember correctly they played an additional five songs. Andre kept asking us to go home but we just couldn't let him go just yet. In the end, at about 10.30pm, it finally ended in a party-like atmosphere.

It was really a wonderful experience, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Like what Andre said, music has this magical power of healing and I couldn't agree more. I think we should all spend some time to just sit down and enjoy, truly enjoy music because it reaches our souls and heals it.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Yiruma Live in Singapore 2014

Finally the day has come.

Yiruma is a well known contemporary pianist from South Korea. People say when you listen to Yiruma's music, time stops. Today at the Star Theater, I was there to experience it myself.

The theater was amazing. Located on the 5th floor of Star Vista Complex, it is capable of housing 5000 people. I managed to get a seat at the K section, which is at the second tier middle section of the theater. In order to enter the theater, I had to go through door number 9 which was actually located on the 9th level of the complex. Such was the size of the theater. The view from my seat was breathtaking. It was the largest theater that I've ever been to. 

The performance started at around 8.15pm. When the curtains opened, Yiruma was already seated at the piano in front of a full-house audience. At the backdrop was a giant screen showing closeups from several camera angles. He began the concert with two songs, "Maybe" and "Love Me". The acoustics was wonderful. The reverb was perfect and the sound of the piano was crystal clear yet not piercing to the ears. It was like being tempered, producing sound quality of music studio production. And yes, it indeed felt like time has stopped. 

Yiruma mentioned that he had been to Singapore in 1992. His father used to work here and they had a house with a swimming pool. He is a very humble guy with a good sense of humour. He said his music are very calm and was hoping that we would not fall asleep midway through his concert. He also shared some of his stories behind his songs. The song "Indigo" came about when he was composing under the night sky. The darkness brought him a sense of calmness. To him, it felt like the colour indigo. That is why he always wears indigo coloured shirt during performance. We couldn't see that today because it was not worn on the outside. 

The last song before the intermission was "Kiss The Rain", one of my favourite pieces. In fact, it was one of the favourite pieces of the other audience too. When he announced that he was going to play "Kiss The Rain", it attracted huge cheers from the crowd. And indeed, it was a really wonderful song. His song also brings you through your memories. It was an indescribable feeling. 

One of the songs after the intermission was "Lana", a song dedicated to and named after his daughter. It was a song written to be played in his daughter's wedding although she is only 7 years old today. There was an interesting "event" planned by Yiruma himself too. He was looking for a volunteer to perform together with him. A lucky girl from the front row was chosen. She was tasked to play a three-note-broken chord repeatedly while Yiruma played the rest of the song specially designed for this "event". Playfully, Yiruma had his left hand crossed over to the girl's right to play the higher notes. It was a really fun session. The subsequent songs were played with his cellist friend, Yong Kim. The addition of the cello was the icing on the cake. Both texture blended so well together that sometimes you cannot tell whether the cellist was playing. 

The second last song was his most famous piece, "River Flows in You". I guess everyone was waiting for that piece. Mesmerizing as always, the tune just flows in you like a river. His songs were all improvised. So while the sound quality matched that of the CD's, the contents did not. This only made the concert more valuable. 

At the end of the last song "Reminiscent", Yiruma and his cellist friend Yong Kim received thunderous applause and had to reappear on stage for encore performance, much to our delight. The first song of encore was "I", a song he plays to remind him of himself. The last song of the concert was a further improvisation of "River Flows in You". At first it did not sound obvious though the chord progression was similar. When the chorus came, everyone was like "aww...". It is a classic song, rightfully played twice. I was really glad he chose to end it with this song. 

A well deserved standing ovation to Yiruma. And also the organizers, backstage crew, ushers and so on. It was the most amazing concert in the most incredible concert hall I've ever attended. 

                                    Concert ticket with giant screen backdrop

Central view from my seat. Can see the piano?

Full house concert. Amazing theater design

My New Blog

I am not new to blogging but I'd like to have a fresh start. The previous blog would serve as bitter sweet memories which I might one day revisit to check out my past. In this new blog, I'd like to share some important moments in my life and my ideas on various subjects, be it sports, music, science, philosophy, politics, human condition, love and so on. I like to talk to people from all walks of life. I find that everyone has their own opinions which are mostly unique and I really appreciate this diversity. I believe over the past few years I've  grown to become a more matured person. I hope by writing this blog and reflecting on them, I will continue to improve as an adult so that I can have a positive impact on the people around me, just like how they have had positive impacts on myself.