Sunday, March 12, 2006

Genus 2006

And yes.. the much anticipated and at the same time dreaded Genus annual concert has finally come to a close. It was kinda exciting to be playing in two small groups plus the mini-ensemble, so that explains the anticipation part. The dread that follows stems from the fact that we are now faced with the difficult decision of what to do after the concert.

Not that the concert didn't go well. It was, IMHO - ok. Really..

Capriol was smooth, and i was pretty impressed with the kind of tightness the ensemble showed when handling the many little intricacies of the suite (namely the quick change of expressions and tempo throughout), especially since it was the opening piece of the concert.

And on that note - may i add that it must have been no fun sitting out on the stage (like fishes in a tank) for a half hour, with audience still strolling into the hall at 1945 hr. Reason being - there was a major cock-up at the reception booth (ticketing) area, resulting in long queues of people not seen since the "bak kua ones during CNY" (quote from OG).

The concert finally started at 1950 hr. Thank goodness...

Masak's Suteki went on with no hiccups, as expected i may add with some pride. The only small downside was latter revealed to me thru my harshest critic (yah, the b'day gal), that the sound balance was off and that the chords played by yen's alto and snowparang's folk guitar was too soft. Alex's cbass was said to be "dunno what he's playing". Still, i figured we did well enuff to get the nods from many of the younger audience (esp. those who know the song thru FFX)

To me, the small ensemble's job was well executed. Even though YY's concert day rendition of the Spirited Away prime solo was just a little too expressivo for some of us, including Owls who had a stunned and bemused look on his face during that few bars of music, we still carried the piece with confidence and i think it showed to the listening public. Farandole was equally convincing, though not before we really smoked out the audience at the fast running notes 2/3 way thru the song. But the song was played with enuff gusto to earn us some praises latter on from friends amongst the audience. Kudos to Owls too for the great effort in his arrangements!

Next came... (oh shit..) Handel. Our concerto gross(o)..
Given the kinda expectation i held for the piece (which was really not much), i have to say it wasn't TOO badly done. Of course, the usual slips up were there; the missing running notes; the lapses in concentration - given the long duration of the piece; the weirdness of the conductor 'conducting' with his face!??!? (again, THE critic strikes mercilessly). But at the end of the day, the song withstood its tormented lashing and wounds, and somehow managed to run through without breaking stride. I guess that must be applauded, and to a certain degree, even seen as a victory. Guess there is only so much the Genus Angel can do lah... :P

The Interval was another highlight of the day. During the soundcheck earlier, i was politely requested by ZQ to attend the reception during the concert interval. (How can i say no to the man-0f-the-day, the President???) So, there i was mingling with the "VIPs". But it was not a wasted trip, as i expected. I got to have a little chat with Ms Ho Siew Ling (who seemed to be a CFA staff for the longest time i could remember), and Ms Chua Beng Hwee. It was interesting how they saw the concert till that point. Comments like "i liked the concert!", "it was very interesting(???!!?)", "i think the standard improved a lot" were coming hard and fast. I'm left guessing whether these are sincere remarks, or simply just polite ones, or even worse, they were meant to justify their appointment of a certain Music Director... Whatever...

The Huifen/Songyi duet came and went quietly and quickly. I wasnt able to catch most of it, as i was busy doing last minute tuning backstage. But from what little i heard (THE critic commented that the audience also heard very little... hmm ), it sounded rather meek and unsure. But still nevertheless - pleasant.

Dredlock & Along the Edge was played to tempo and as a performer, i felt we did relatively well. Other than the occasional rough edges that showed when we negotiated the more technically demanding bits, the 2 pieces cruised along with relative ease. Alex's decision to snip off a couple of bars of music early in Along was quickly sorted out and he recovered well. Certainly not our best performance, but given concert circumstances, i have no complains.

Pain is the one song which i have not heard. Not once. Not during the sound test, not during any rehearsals, and not during the concert itself. The only bits i caught was nearing the end of the piece, when i managed to hear what sounded like a very out-of-tune singer, trying to raise above a loud mixture of elaborate sounds... Can't comment beyond that though.

There was a series of loud thumping of heavy footsteps following Prisilla's annoucement for the conductor of the next piece -La Partida. What a joke! This fella was actually lying on the floor at backstage, and got up just in time to run to the side of the stage to make an entrance. Either he is crazy, or he is simply an attention seeker... not sure which is worse. But anyway, the piece sounded good, which was all the more surprising given the fact that it must have been one of the least rehearsed piece in the ensemble repertoire this year...

I liked the last piece - Spring Overture. I am very impressed with Melissa. I thought she did a fantastic job last year with Princess Mononoke, and followed up this year with another good one. Alex did a decent job of conducting the piece also, though i had a good laugh at his matrix-style arms swing somewhere in the middle of the piece (i think). Maybe audience found it very impressive even. :) The only thing i didnt really approve of was that some of the percussion instruments were way too loud, and it sort of stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of the music. Hopefully it didnt sound like that to the audience, who may be hearing a totally different sound from what i heard at stage end.

Fortunately - no encore. We've had enuff of those over the last decade to last for a long long time.. :)


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