Monthly Archives: August 2012

Guitar Virtuosity

Postcards from Home – Kevin Loh @ Esplanade Concourse

Musicians:
Kevin Loh (Guitar, Solo)
Josephene Teo (Piano)
Rit Xu (Flute)

Venue:
Esplanade Concourse

Programme:
“1st Half”

J.S. Bach
1st Cello Suite in G Major: Prelude

Malcolm Arnold
Serenade for Guitar and Strings
with Pianist Josephene Teo

Roland Dyens
Fuoco (3rd Mvt) from Libra Sonatine

Astor Piazolla
Histoire du Tango: Mvts 1 (Bordel 1900) & 3 (Nightclub 1960)
with Flautist Rit Xu

“2nd Half”
J.S. Bach
3rd Cello Suite in C Major: Prelude

Malcolm Arnold
Serenade for Guitar and Strings
with Pianist Josephene Teo

Paulo Bellinati
Jongo

Astor Piazolla
Histoire du Tango: Mvts 2 (Cafe 1930) & 4 (Concert d’aujourd’hui)
with Flautist Rit Xu

Quique Sinesi
Cielo Abierto

 

It is not every night when the featured artiste of the Esplanade Concourse Performance prepares a different programme for each of the two timeslots (7.15pm and 8.15pm), or, as Kevin Loh put it, the 1st and 2nd halves. For one clueless about guitar repertoire, the opening piece of Bach was a familiar welcome before the unleashing of the 6-stringed fireworks.

Lauded on paper (or concert-quality cardboard) as the youngest Grade 8 recipient, 2010 HSBC Youth Excellence Award, and last-but-certainly-not-least, one of the elite few students in the Yehudi Menuhin School (this is classical guitar, to boot), Kevin Loh assumes the concert bravado, but maintains the boyish charm, of the 14-year-old that he supposedly is. Lesser mortals like this author can hold no claim to such a stage presence. Technically, there is nothing much to comment on – just as a silent customer at a restaurant is too busy eating to complain. Apart from a few slips (I’ve tripped more on my feet than that in a day walking on flat ground), there were 3 flaws that stood out.

Firstly, the transitions and timings sometimes seemed a little hurried, although understanding that would come with time, and time is on Kevin’s side – perhaps one must experience enough time passing before one can truly grasp its significance. Taking breaths and taking time is something a musician (and anyone else, in fact) has to learn to do naturally, especially in front of a crowd or an audience, whereby one unapologetically trades in the time (of all these attentive people) for the (rich but indefinable) return of  the elusive temporal magic that only a live performance can deliver.

Secondly, the pianist and the guitarist needed to be able to see each other. This can solved by stage hands.

Lastly, the flautist probably had to have his microphone slightly further away (his articulation was a little too amplified).

(Yes, this author is trying to be a little bit funny with the last two lines.)

 

Off the stage, Kevin was friendly and personable, and I say this not just because he hand-wrote the following (titles of the pieces which I couldn’t catch)

He even suggested a guitar trio piece for listening – Baiao de Gude

 

on a postcard I picked off a rack in NUH earlier today:

That’s my wife in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

because I had no spare writing paper and my phone battery was dead. The only thing that was lacking on it was his autograph. I’ll get it someday (when I actually pay to see his performance, or something).

Interestingly, (and kudos to the Suzuki Method), Kevin’s father taught him from a young age (~5 or 6 years old) using the Suzuki method, as I gleaned (I hope accurately) from the bits of conversation that was floating around.

Long story short, I hope to see more of Kevin, whether in the concert hall, in small-scaled recitals, or online.

As for the latter, he is already on youtube.

 

Kevin also has a blog. His latest post features Cielo Abierto by Quique Sinesi.

 

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Edit on Aug 19:

Addendum: I found out belatedly that the concert was titled, aptly on hindsight, Postcards from Home
Errata: Musician names were corrected

Archmage

Here is a (poorly) reconstructed poem, the few phrases which stay true to the original (written approx. 11 years ago) probably will be just as fun to read out loud as before. As for the rest, well, they be inside jokes and references.

 

Disclaimer: This is by no means a seriously constructed poem. (A/N: Lalalala)

Archmage

You!
Buried nose-deep in those lead- and gold-bound tomes,
researching runes, scrawled and scribbled in symbolic script –

Arcane!

Nary a moment without lore passes, as you have always wished
(Not that nature did not bestow favour on your stunning self)
The light of day blinds you – (You!) who only hallucinates
of the flighty, elemental wisps of whilst the
(all that glitters is not geld)
knife of reality plunges while you seek
The Holy Grail.
(It is but a farce… as the golem always said)
Till one day, maybe, in the black of night, sleeping while the
candle burns at both ends, and the living gates to your (no more lovesick?) dead
heart are finally found by the scrying eyes of the nymphs.

(After all, one good turn deserves another)

“You eye me?”

 

P.S. I’ve exceed 1000 all time views! *pops uncorks the champagne whisky*

Bitter Medicine

(Unedited: 11/8/2012)

“Doctor, doctor!”

“Yes Ms Kant, please sit down. Good evening, by the way.” The good doctor held up an important-looking, five-page-long report.

In reply, Gloria Kant smoothed her silk skirt as though it were a baby’s face.

“Alright Ms Kant. Let’s go through your options. I’ve got three medicines for you, but you only need choose one. For the sake of simplicity and to remove bias I’ll (and you can) call them A, B and C.

A is, of course, the most promising of the bunch. Very effective, almost no side effects and not too expensive. Standard daily dosing. Problem is, the stock is limited so I can only supply you with a month’s worth. Subsequent orders have to be made specially and via overseas suppliers. Of course, I’ll renew your prescription whenever required. ”

“Don’t I need to go on therapy for at least seven years?” Kant still had a sense of time and practicability.

“Yes, yes, calm down. That’s what B is for. It’s just become available for clinical trial, so cost is covered entirely by the manufacturer. Good things come in pairs too – this one only needs to be taken when required, as it has a rapid onset of action. This choice of dose would also be due to its embarrassing side effects that include hot flushes and involuntary sexual arousal. A caution though – it cannot be taken concurrently with any other medication and supplements, including antibiotics.”

“Why, that’s preposterous, doctor!” Undoubtedly, she had also preserved her dignity.

“Well, not much of a bother if you simply stop for the duration of the new medications. In that case, I would just have to recommend the final choice – C. It’s been around for the longest time, and the track record shows it to be effective and really cheap (the generics, especially). It has a twice-a-day dosing, and the main side effects include drowsiness and a lack in enthusiasm for life. On the bright side, most patients who are on it report a general sense of well-being…”

“But… but… Whatever am I suffering from, doctor? You haven’t even told me that!” Kant was just shy of being appropriately hysterical.

“Why, Loneliness, of course.”