In and Over the Seas
The Philharmoic Choir & The Philharmonic Orchestra
26 Oct 2014 . Sun
Victoria Concert Hall
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Debussy: Trois Chansons
Debussy: La Mer
Conductor . Lim Yau
Presenter . William Ledbetter
It may be presumptuous to write about a concert that the writer has played in, but hear me out:
In a spiritual sequel to Brahms Tonight, Debussy tonight was planned around an educational, engaging, and narrative opening act, with excerpts and explanations, and participation from both orchestra and choir (and narrator).
(I won’t delve into the more esoteric parts such as how the orchestra sounded or how the massive reverberations made it sound like we were playing/singing in a very friendly and ebullient tin-can.)
From performer’s point of view, sometimes it is difficult to imagine what the audience hears. In other words, what sounds like “we’ve played this so many times before” and “omg crap” onstage mostly sounds decent after maturing over several cubic metres of air-conditioned atmosphere. Having an educationally- or outreach-structured concert lends itself not just to the audience learning more about the music and the musicians – the breaks in between let the musicians learn more about each other and themselves.
I fondly remember the Russian choral piece that TPCC sang between the narration and the Brahms’ 1st performance years ago, as well as the audience’s “bravo” that brought tears to my eyes. That precious downtime, usually a nerve-wracking or concentration-wrecking one for those onstage, actually gives sufficient time.
The narration and downtime included some of the most valuable moments: taking apart and rebuilding the layers of -phony that Debussy wrote, taking apart the harmony, and taking a break whilst the choir took centre-stage (no pun intended). It’s nice to watch a performance and have the (hot)-light taken off you once in a while.
Emotions take time, just as music takes (and gives) time, and the perfect balance exists when enough time is given for emotions to run rich, and as rarely as the tides may sometimes wait for man, so does the Sea wait for thee.