Music plays a big part in any celebrations. From anthems to waltzes, fanfares to choruses, orchestral music has always accompanied national celebrations. They add to the pomp and pageantry of the occasions but most importantly, rouse the emotions of the people, uniting them in one spirit.
It is therefore befitting for Singapore’s 50th Jubilee that we have our very own internationally renowned orchestra – the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, pay a musical tribute ‘Jubilee at the Botanics’ for all to enjoy at our beautiful sprawling Singapore Botanical Gardens.
The beautiful venue for a lovely evening of musical discovery!
Anticipating a large turnout, we arrived early at the 150 year-old Botanical Gardens bringing along the whole family including our kids’ Grandaunt and Grandmother. It was heartwarming to see folks from all walks of life, bracing the humidity and afternoon heat, converge at the garden for this concert. Interspersed among the lush greenery were young families enjoying a picnic on the lawn, youths playing Frisbee, parents playing bubbles with the children, couples strolling hand-in-hand, retirees being wheeled by their loved ones to await the start of the concert.
Interacting with the host, Nathan Hartono before the concert starts…
As we approached the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, we saw that a large crowd had gathered, armed and ready for an evening of musical adventure. The SSO was setting up. True to their high professional standards, every musician was painstakingly going through their final tuning and rehearsal as it was more challenging to perform in an open-air setting. The sound crew was also going through their final technical checks to ensure that the audio quality would be tip-top. We knew we were in for a real treat! And a treat it was!
The final rehearsal…check out the crowd streaming in!
Minutes before the concert began, who should join us but the Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong himself, accompanied by his lovely wife. Dressed casually in a polo Tee and sneakers, both of them took their seats among the crowd, taking the celebratory mood a notch higher.
Surprise guests for the evening: PM Lee and Mrs Lee!
Under the baton of its Associate Conductor, Maestro Joshua Tan led the SSO to open the concert with the rousing Suite No. 1 from Bizet’s Carmen, one of the most popular classical tunes in the world. For the next hour, the SSO performed well-loved tunes from iconic musicals from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Memory’ (Cats), Bernstein’s ‘Somewhere’ (West Side Story) and Mancini’s ‘Moon River’. This was followed by Richard Rodgers’ popular themes and ‘Curtains Up’ a collection of Broadway’s famous opening themes. The repertoire evoked emotions of excitement, adventure, romance and nostalgia in the audience. It had everyone transfixed onto the stage as the maestro and the SSO weaved their magic, first to our ears then to our hearts. The SSO was stupendous but what impressed me more were the crystal-clear sound system and the massive turnout! Whoever said we are an air-conditioned nation?
Maestro Joshua Tan and the SSOWhat a treat from the SSO!
The concert also featured local musician, Nathan Hartono as the host and vocalist, Amni Musfirah who belted her rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’ from Les Miserables. Amni and the SSO then brought the concert to a bittersweet close with a stirring ‘Count on Me Singapore’ and everyone’s favorite national song, ‘Home’. There was a sense of reluctance in the air when the concert concluded. For us, we tarried a little longer with our picnic, not wanting the magic of the moment, of us enjoying the long weekend in this big, beautiful open space, to wane so fast.
Homegrown musicians giving back to the nation with their talents…
The success of the concert was not so much the sterling musical performance itself but how it brought Singaporeans from all walks of life together in the lead up to our nation’s birthday. In many ways, the sight of the eclectic multicultural crowd was a testament of Singapore’s success over the past 50 years – a world class home for all her people, regardless of race, language and religion. So Happy Birthday Singapore. Let the music play on & celebrations continue!
Families turned out in full force to support Jubilee@TheBotanics!
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Temasek. All photos and opinions are, as usual, ours.