Chamber music styles to check out in Singapore

Give yourself a break from Taylor Swift or Tiësto, and book yourself in for an intimate session with classical chamber music

SYC Ensemble

Classical music is not all massive orchestras and sweeping dramatic compositions. Take it down a notch and you’ll get chamber music, which originated from intimate performances in private settings (the term ‘chamber’ is derived from ‘chambre’, the French word for ‘room’). Chamber music is usually played by a band of fewer than 15 musicians – which might explain its nickname, ‘the music of friends’ – but, hey, size doesn’t matter, right? Find out more about this music form that’s been around for centuries.

Choral performances

What Choral music, as its name suggests, refers to music performed by a choir. In the 14th century, knowledge of music theory grew widely among singers, giving their technical performance a boost, and choral performances quickly grew in popularity in the subsequent 15th century.

Names to drop Johannes Ockeghem. Hailing from the Netherlands, he was one of the most influential composers of the 15th century and started out as a chorister in Antwerp’s Notre Dame. 

Jennifer Tham

Listen to… VCH Presents Schizophonia

Aug 27, 7.30pm

Canadian scholar-composer Raymond Murray Schafer coined the term ‘Schizophonia’ (not schizophrenia) to refer to the splitting of an original sound and its reproduction – that is to say, the sound that musicians make in the studio versus the sound you hear on the record. Check out the SYC Ensemble Singers delivering a fresh interpretation of the term as they reprise Schafer’s Vox Naturae. Cultural Medallion winner, artistic director and conductor Jennifer Tham leads the ensemble.

Victoria Concert Hall

Harp performances

What Synonymous with classical music, the harp is also one of the oldest instruments in the world – it was depicted in Ancient Egyptian tombs and is part of the traditions of more than 150 African tribes. Today, the concert harp is a 47-string creation played with four fingers (thumb, index, middle and ring), and produces a gentle, trickling sound most of us would associate with angels.

Names to drop Marie Antoinette – she of cake-eating fame – was a great player of the single-action pedal harp. Befitting the harp’s regal qualities, the instrument was extremely popular with royalty in the 18th century.

Gulnara Mashurova

Listen to… The Beauty of The Harp

Oct 30, 4pm

Who better to exhibit graceful mastery of the elegant instrument than SSO Principal Harp Gulnara Mashurova, who has played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. She takes centre-stage with Handel’s Harp Concerto No 6 in B-flat major, a piece originally composed for the harp but later arranged for the organ. Influential French composer Debussy is also given a nod to with Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane, and Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo for Harp, all written by English harpist Parish Alvars, who is proclaimed as the ‘Liszt of the harp’.

Victoria Concert Hall

These concerts are part of the inaugural VCH Presents 2016/17 series, presented by Victoria Concert Hall, home of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It aims to showcase some of the finest musicians through diverse programmes which transcend boundaries. For more information on the line-up, visit here.