Thursday, November 11, 2004

Living Up To Re-minisce's Description Of Me On His Blog -- Yet Again :)

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O Holy Night was MADE for his gorgeous voice. :)

James Galway's Concert Nov 9 At The Esplanade

A legend if there ever was one. I watched this gentleman play his flute on television even before I started primary school. Memory's a little fuzzy, but didn't he toot the Pink Panther theme or the Baby Elephant Walk at some point?

Anyway, seeing him "live" on Tuesday night was... surreal . Like seeing Michael Jackson, Barry Manilow, Cliff Richard and The Chieftains -- all successful musical artistes with huge followings, and more than 30 years ( each ) in this tough business.

As you know, I'm not a connoiseur of classical music. So yes, I can't recall much of what I heard -- pieces unfamiliar to me, but wonderfully played by the Munich Chamber Orchestra. The opening number -- an Elgar composition -- was especially moving. The closing -- Serenade For Strings by Tchaikovsky -- was exquisite.

I realized halfway through the concert that having only string sections can be quite an advantage. For me at least, I prefer the purity of tone, without the noise ( ie. all those bass and percussion instruments ). A friend told me our local Tang Quartet is pretty decent. Maybe I'll give them a try one day. New hobby. :)

When Sir James Galway stepped onto the stage, I literally got goose pimples. Clad in a golden waistcoat with elaborate embroidery, and an outer long coat ( which looked a little like a robe, haha ) coloured a deep wine red with intricate patterns, he beamed and waved at the audience before conducting the orchestra for their first piece. Then, it was his turn to shine as he performed two Mozart works, then a Cimarosa duet ( with his wife Jeanne -- a very regal blonde ).

Galway, despite his 65 years of age, has remained sprightly and energetic, treating us to his signature style of acrobatics combined with effortless emotive skills. Completely at ease on the concert stage, he even broke tradition by bantering with the audience a few times, cracking subtle jokes in his Irish accent.

Highlights: his stunt with a Chinese flute thingy, the encores ( which included an Irish jig and rendition of Danny Boy ) and -- my absolute favourite -- another duet with his wife, none other than the Turkish March from Mozart's famous Sonata In A ( aka my Grade 8 piano examination piece -- man, lots of late nights practising that one! :)). Everyone around me began to hum the melody on cue, and did the same for Danny Boy later. The lady to my right even knew the entire Tchaikovsky Serenade by heart. Whoa. :)

The autograph session took almost an hour, but Sir James was accomodating till the very end, giving each of us a jolly greeting, then bestowing meticulous signatures, followed by the chuckle "Step inside the studio" whenever someone brandished a camera ( the "studio" being the space behind him and his wife, that is :)). Lady Jeanne was equally lovely and friendly to a fault. Wonderful couple.

Not sure if the Galways will ever perform here again, considering their age. The reception was warm, but for some reason, only a handful of concertgoers obliged with standing ovations. Still, I'm very glad I got to see him in person. It was an unforgettable experience!

Check these out:

Greatest Hits album -- sample of the Pink Panther theme available ( scroll down )

Complete Discography

Return of the King soundtrack -- in particular, tracks 15, 17 and 18

Singapore Idol -- The Final 4 -- awaits. Good luck, Sylvester!

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