SUMMER’S DAY by Liong Kit Yeng

Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

 I’m not a huge fan of singing in Mandarin. The language does not seem to want to come naturally to me, and it never has to be honest. Such is the peril of growing up in an English-speaking household who enjoyed ‘Allo ‘Allo more than Under One Roof. In fact, it was so much less daunting singing in Hainanese, as I just had to learn it phonetically.

 I sang my first Mandarin song in 2013. In 2015, as part of our SG50 Lieder Festival, we commissioned Kit Yeng to compose a set of songs for us. I’ve always admired her works. My choirs have performed her choral pieces several times, and I’ve enjoyed them tremendously, and so have my students. For that concert, she created two contrasting, and very lovely, works for us, in Mandarin. 🙂

 There is a freshness and ease to her musical language that no one else seems to use, and it reminds me so much of our xinyao movement. I don’t value her style for purely nostalgic reasons of course; I think it takes great courage to compose the way she does in this day and age. There is no pretense, the music is immediate and very effective, and wholly very beautiful.

 Kit Yeng’s new work for us is a setting of this most iconic of Shakespeare sonnets, but she has chosen to use a translation of the text in, trust my luck, Mandarin. She’s created something really gorgeous, and her vision is sweeping, lyrical, and very sophisticated. As much as this is a great challenge for me to sing, I do have to say I enjoy it immensely.

 When I sang my first Mandarin song in 2013, a friend said that it sounded French (well, I appreciate his honesty). I hope 3 Mandarin songs later, my language ability has improved 😉 I’ve been told this particular translation is a very good one and extremely poetic, which scares me a bit. I hope I do this work justice, and I hope everyone will enjoy this song as much as I have.

 Adrian Poon

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Liong Kit Yeng, Composer

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Kit Yeng’s multifaceted career spans the arts, broadcasting and education. She is a bilingual emcee, composer, events producer and a teacher who inspires students both young and young-at-heart.

As a composer/arranger, her works have been performed by Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Ding Yi Music Company, Singaporean pianist Lim Yan, Paper Monkey Theatre, Sing Song Club, Singapore Lyric Opera Children’s Choir, Singapore Press Holdings Choir, Vocal Associates Festival Choruses, Natus Cantarum (Taiwan) and Johor Bahru Chamber Choir.

Since 2015, she has been appointed as composer/arranger for The Purple Symphony, Singapore’s first inclusive orchestra for musicians with and without disabilities. She also arranged music for ‘An Enchanted Evening of Silver Gems’, an intergenerational music theatre concert held as part of Silver Arts 2015, an arts festival for seniors presented by the National Arts Council.

In addition to music-making, Kit Yeng is the Artistic Consultant for “Moon | Conversations”, the 2016 edition of Mid-Autumn Festival traditional arts showcase, presented by the National Arts Council, in collaboration with Gardens by the Bay. Currently a part-time lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, she is also a member of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra’s Arts Resource Panel, and a concert reviewer for Lianhe Zaobao.

Dr Kelly Tang, Composer

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Kelly Tang’s compositions have been performed by renowned ensembles including the Russian National Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (UK), “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, Republican Guard Orchestra of Paris and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. His chamber works have been performed by the Coull Quartet (UK), Minguett Quartet (Germany), Gaia Philharmonic Chorus (Japan) and Ensemble Contemporain of Montreal.

Tang’s music has been presented worldwide at the Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, Sydney Opera House, Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Shanghai Concert Hall, Auditorium di Milano (Italy), Tokyo Opera City, the Palais de l’Élysée (Paris), St. Paul’s Cathedral (London) and Carnegie Hall (New York). In Singapore, his works feature regularly in the repertoire of both the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. His Jazz compositions have been performed by pianist Jeremy Monteiro with Grammy® recipients Ernie Watts (saxophone) and Randy Brecker (trumpet).

Tang’s symphonic works have been commissioned to commemorate significant national events such as the 10th anniversary of Esplanade Theatres By The Bay in 2012, and the re-opening of Victoria Concert Hall in 2014. For Singapore’s 50th anniversary, Tang’s “Concerto in Three Movements” was premiered by international pianist Lang Lang and the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra in August 2015.

Tang received his undergraduate education at York University (Toronto) and his Master’s degree in music at Northwestern University (USA). In 1995, he was awarded his PhD in music composition by Michigan State University. From 1996 to 2011, Tang served as Associate Professor of Music at the National Institute of Education – Nanyang Technological University.

In 2008, Tang received the Artistic Excellence Award from the Composers’ & Author’s Association of Singapore (COMPASS). For his contributions in the arts, he was conferred the Cultural Medallion in 2011 by the President of Singapore.

Daniel Fong, Baritone

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Daniel Fong is a scholarship Graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, London, having received both his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Academy. In 2015, he had also gone on to further graduate with the Post-Graduate Professional Diploma in Song and Lieder. Daniel also received the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM).

As an avid recitalist, Daniel has sung at Colston Hall (Bristol), the Austrian Cultural Forum (London), the Kempe Society (Stratford-upon-Avon), Holywell Music Room (Oxford), The Art’s House Singapore, Esplanade Recital Studio and the Young Musician’s Society (Singapore). Daniel was also part of the Oxford Lieder 2015 Residential Masterclass Programme. In 2014, he understudied for Manuel Walser at the Oxford Lieder Festival and was the Understudy for the Wigmore Hall/Royal Academy Song Recital.  Daniel was also the winner of the Marjorie Thomas Song competition at the Royal Academy of Music (2014), runner-up at the Elena Gerhardt Lieder Prize (2014), highly commended at the prestigious Mozart Singing Competition (2014), highly commended in Major Van Someren-Godfrey English Song Prize and was a member of the prestigious Academy Song Circle.

Daniel was taught under Glenville Hargreaves and Audrey Hyland, as well as Alex Ashworth and Mary Hill. He has also had lessons with Ian Partridge CBE, Richard Stokes, Richard Jackson, Russell Smythe and Armin Zanner.  Daniel has sung in Public Masterclasses with Simon Keenlyside, Andreas Schmidt, Roger Vignoles, Ann Murray DBE, Brindley Sherratt, John Shirley-Quirk, Florian Boesch, Julius Drake, Elly Ameling, Rudolph Jansen, Robert Holl, Malcolm Martineau and Helmut Deustch.

Daniel was a Voice Lecturer at King’s College London (KCL) and have been a private voice teacher for the past 6 years.

Frank Lee

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Frank is a 40 year old teacher who has always been interested in the arts. Art is a process for him and he appreciates the inherent expressive qualities of different art forms.

He currently draws, paints and takes pictures for self-actualisation and personal fulfilment. He is also very happy to explore new art making approaches to develop new insights for his practice.

Joost Christiaan Flach

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Joost graduated in 1983 from the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.  His teachers were Carlo Ravelli and Han De Vries, who trained him in the Dutch style of oboe playing. During his studies, he was an oboe / cor anglais player in the Dutch National Youth Orchestra, and he freelanced occasionally in the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Pepijn Wind Ensemble.

Having lived and worked in South East Asia since 1984, Joost has been an oboist in the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and Kuala Lumpur Symphony Orchestra before he took on the Sub-Principal Oboe position in the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the years, he has made himself known to the music circle regionally, and numerous contemporary Asian composers have composed music especially for him. In addition, he has also given recitals and workshops together with an accompanying pianist in Singapore and Shanghai.

William Lim, Baritone

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William Lim began his vocal studies with Mr Choo Hwee Lim. He studied with Tomiko Sossi at the Shobi Music Conservatoire in Tokyo and Michael Rippon at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, with Rudolf Piernay at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Patrick McGuigan at The Royal Northern College of Music. He was awarded the “Silver Rose” award in New York’s Rosa Ponselle International Voice Competition. While still a student in Manchester, he also sang in a masterclass conducted by renowned American baritone Sherrill Milnes.

He has since performed with the Singapore Lyric Opera, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Singers, Bangkok Opera, NUNI productions, Penang Arts Council and the Friends of the Scottish Opera and most recently sang in Savage Land with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

He has sung roles in Verdi’s Rigoletto, La Traviata, I Pagliacci, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Turandot, Donizetti’s Il Campanello di Notte, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, The Three Penny Opera, Leong Yoon Ping’s Bunga Mawar, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Benjamin Britten’s The Midsummer Night’s Dream, Noye’s Fludde, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Strauss’ Salome.