HSBC Youth Excellence Award Concert 2012
University Cultural Centre
Thursday (30 August 2012)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 1 September 2012 with the title "Depth of talent".

The HSBC Youth Excellence Award has been around since 2000, and if one scans its roll of honour, it reads like a very impressive young Who’s Who of classical music in Singapore. Every year, a new name is added and one marvels at the depth of talent that exists here.

The annual showcase concert, attended by President and Mrs Tony Tan, opened with performances by two previous recipients. Guitarist Kevin Loh (2010 winner), student at the Menuhin School, showed his mettle in Joaquin Turina’s flamenco dance-inspired Homage to Tarrega.

His keen perception of pulse and rhythm was allied with sensitivity of touch, both of which provided a strong backbone for Astor Piazzolla’s L’Histoire du Tango (History of the Tango), where he was joined by violinist Gabriel Ng (2006 winner). The four-movement suite was an enjoyable chronological treatise of the tango, and the duo blended well, delighting in its tricky counterpoint, and alternating sultry and fiery spirits.

This year’s awardee was unveiled as 10-year-old cellist Aoden Teo Masa Toshi, who had earlier made a very public appearance at this year’s National Day Parade. The smiley and bespectacled lad is the very portrait of confidence and poise. His sense of purpose and enthusiasm makes one want to listen to him, and hold the audience captive he did.

Aoden Teo plays Saint-Saƫns's Allegro Appassionato with pianist Michelle Seah.

His Preludefrom Bach’s Suite No.1 had both clarity and rock steadiness, besides being able to shade the repeated arpeggios with contour and colour. The cantabile line in Saint-Saens’s The Swan was deliciously shaped, and when fireworks were called for, his mastery of the same composer’s Allegro Appassionato was accomplished with breathtaking ease.

Some inexperience showed in the performance with the Orchestra of the Music Makers of Saint-Saens’s First Cello Concerto. Several spots saw intonation go awry, and synchronisation was not always perfect. As only the first movement was played, the music came to an unsatisfying jolting halt. One hopes to hear him in the whole work sometime soon. 

The young orchestra (itself the recipient in 2009) conducted by Chan Tze Law also accompanied Gabriel Ng in the rip-roaring finale of Mozart’s First Violin Concerto. Its own showcase was equally prodigious, first polishing off Walton’s Spitfire Prelude & Fugue with requisite pomp and aplomb. The highlights from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake were also gripping, with the opulence of playing easily overcoming the dry acoustics of the hall.

As an encore, all three young soloists joined the orchestra in Elgar’s rambunctious Wild Bears from The Wand of Youth, with Kevin Loh ditching his guitar for the humble triangle. Clearly everyone on stage was enjoying themselves, and that is what makes these awards well worth the while and outlay.

The most recent HSBC Youth Excellence Award for Music winners (from L): Violinist Gabriel Ng (2006), Guitarist Kevin Loh (2010), Cellist Aoden Teo Masa Toshi (2012) with conductor Chan Tze Law and the Orchestra of Music Makers (2009). 

Dressing in Dagmar

We Swedes should be so proud to have so many great designers in our country and Dagmar is on of them. We love the brands mix of knitted pieces, leather and fresh colors. The striped patterns on the light fabric is just perfect for spring and summer and would fit good to every occasion. These really are the type of clothes that you can look good in all through the day, whether you are working or partying. We would like to dress ourselves in every garment that comes down the runway. 

Details of the Stylish O's

Don't we look stylish? We love statement accessories like these shoes on top. We also love to play with hair and use big jewelry that makes people stop and stare. Thats us. 


Yes, I may be skipping down the halls like this today. IT's FINALLY FRIDAY!! I am so excited and in need of a break. I've had the best week that I can't wait to recap a little later. In the mean time I have my old roommate coming to town for the weekend, a band playing at my favorite hangout tonight, and the first ECU football game of the season tomorrow!!

This is one happy girl(: 
Enjoy your Friday! 

Closing party at Vassa Eggen

As a final to Fashion Week the Stylish Outlaw Society went to Vassa Eggen, the perfect spot after a stressful week of fashion. We had so much fun and we couldn't stop laughing, as you all can see on the pictures. Thius stop reminded us of all the previous pit stops that we have been too together during the summer and how much we really enjoy sitting down together to have a little Martini Royale. Fashionable people always have fun together!  

Vibrant colors and knitted pieces

One of our favorite showes from Fashion Week this year were Carin Wester, she is such a brilliant designer. We loved the vibrant colors like green and blue and became a big fan of her geometrical print for this season. This year, Carin Wester, showed a lot of wonderful suits that were slightly to short in the arms and legs. We also loved the oversized sleeves on t-shirts and dresses. 

Good job Carin!

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, August 2012)

STRAVINSKY The Firebird / Orchestral Arrangements
Bergen Philharmonic / ANDREW LITTON
BIS SACD-1874 / ****1/2

The music of Igor Stravinsky’s first ballet, The Firebird, is usually enjoyed at concerts in the form of its short 1919 Suite, which lasts some 20 minutes. The complete ballet, a rarity because of the massive orchestral forces employed, plays for over twice as long. It is an extremely colourful score, much in the style of Stravinsky’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, with its Russian fairy-tale story of a hero, princesses and ogres vividly characterised. In this sumptuous recording, the dances truly come to life aided by excellent woodwind and brass, culminating in the ferocious Infernal Dance and glorious final apotheosis.

The value of this disc lies in its unusual fillers. Instead of another ballet, Stravinsky’s rarely heard orchestrations of music by Tchaikovsky (Bluebird Pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty), Sibelius (Canzonetta) and Chopin (a nocturne and a waltz) are offered. True to form, Stravinsky’s ingenious play with sound textures assures quirks aplenty. The biggest surprise is reserved for the minute-long Birthday Greeting, an outlandish distortion of the children’s Happy Birthday party song which plays down the melody but magnifies the accompaniment. Have fun in this musical “hall of mirrors”.

DANIEL BARENBOIM, Piano & Conductor
Decca 478 3513 (2 CDs) / **1/2

Anyone who has gone through the triumphs and vicissitudes of life will identify with the life-affirming music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). He was Everyman personified, dogged by unrequited love and deafness, yet invigorated by his ideals of liberty, egalitarianism and the brotherhood of man. This double-disc is a sampler of his complete symphonies, piano concertos and piano sonatas (to be issued on 18 discs in three box-sets) as interpreted by Daniel Barenboim, surely one of great Beethovenians of our age.

Six of the nine symphonies, four of the five piano concertos and three sonatas (out of 32) are represented. Despite the fine performances, the sequence of disembodied movements selected does the music scant justice. There is neither chronological order nor programming intelligence in place. For example, the lovely Adagio slow movement of the Emperor Concerto does not fade off when it should but continues with the linking passage as if launching into the Rondofinale. Then the listener is assailed with the Rondo of the First Piano Concerto instead! Surely Barenboim could not have been party to this insult. Clearly this is Beethoven For Dummies. It is far better to get the full sets instead (and probably Decca’s intention as well).

Greenwich Village, through the eyes of Jean Shepherd: A beatnik city of "secret treasures and hidden gardens"

 Jean Shepherd, probably best known today as the voice of 'A Christmas Story', was a regular presence on New York radio in the 1950s and 60s thanks to his memorable program for the AM station WOR.

Although you might associate his voice with nostalgic tales from suburban Indiana, he was very much a Village raconteur for much of his professional career. Some of his radio programs were broadcast live from the Limelight Coffee House at 91 7th Avenue, and he spent his last years in New York in a West Village apartment at West 10th Street.

In this 1960 short film 'Village Sunday', Shepherd describes life in the Village and around Washington Square Park. Its pretty much a light advertisement for the entirely neighborhood, a pretty lovely thing to behold considering the conflicts the area would face with encroaching development later that decade.

He then wanders over to the Festival of San Gennaro which seems to have changed very little. You can compare it yourself when this year's festival begins in a couple weeks!

No time to waste, it is Fashion Week.

After the shows yesterday we headed our way to Nobis again to just relax a little bit after the shows. We had a great day with a lot of fun things to see. There were many wonderful shows that we are excited to show you later on when we have some more time. Right now we are in a little bit of a hurry to see the show of Beckmans. That is always an interesting show and it would be sad to miss it. 

More pictures from the shows are coming up in a heartbeat,
Kisses from SOS