Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Asian Folktales - Genus 2010 concert

After many years of sitting "on the bench" (like a substitute in a football squad), yesterday I finally participated in Genus's annual showpiece as a full fledge performer. And boy, did it make me feel really old!

Just sitting through a 2 hour rehearsal, hours prior to the actual performance, and my back (and butt! ) was already feeling the strain. It certainly didnt help that the chairs we were provided with were not exactly the most comfortable chairs for a classical guitarist - or any performer for that matter. They were a bit too low and the seats were shaped/angled in an 'butt-unfriendly' way.

So why did I do it? ie. agree to play for the entire concert. Well, it was mostly because our Resident Conductor - Mr Robert Casteels requested me to "lend a hand" (or more specifically, lend some sound!) to the ensemble. You see, this year, the ensemble concert repertoire is decidedly longer than usual. Instead of preparing for the typically 7-8 ensemble pieces, this year, we probably had like 12-13 pieces in all. Couple this with the fact that several of these pieces were composed/arranged in such a way as to make the first year players faint when they looked at the score (Yes - Raj's Satyagraha is definitely one of those! Plus Liang Shan's Giant Robo.. oh boy), I really have some sympathy for those poor juniors who have to go through the extra hours (and the auditions) rehearsing these songs.
I wondered how I'd reacted if I were a first year member who'd joined Genus some 6 months ago.... Might I have just called it a day and quitted the club? Maybe...

Anyway, back to my personal reasons for playing in the concert. I feel that the repertoire this year contained some really interesting songs which definitely made my participation in the performance more enjoyable and meaningful.
Raj's contribution - Satyagraha - an original composition based on some Indian's traditional tunes, was one of these tunes which kept ringing in my head. In my opinion, it would be a real waste if this song was presented just this once, in the University's UCC premise, and in front of a meagre 400+ audience, who had sportingly turned up for a undergraduate concert held in a relatively unknown (to the public) place, on a late Sunday evening!
Perhaps with the upcoming Germany trip, we could showcase this ethnic and authentic Indian composition, played on western (Spanish) classical guitars and Japanese designed Niibori instruments, and brought to life by the vibrancy afforded by a Singaporean guitar orchestra! Talk about integrating of cultures....

The only disappointment was that for Chrono Medley (one of Xpose's songs), our flautist did not managed to put up a credible show. It was, frankly one of her worst performances I've heard in a long time. I believe it was down to nerves and anxiety - but then, considering the fact that she's a seasoned performer, I'm pretty astonished about how it all fell apart for her on stage.

Nevertheless - and despite the backaches (and butt-aches!) suffered through the rehearsals and the actual concert - it was an enjoyable outing, and one which will add to the many fond memories I've had with the NUS Guitar Ensemble.


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