Winning blend of pop and classical

When pop and classical music meet, everybody wins.

Late in the Sing50 set, Singapore's Mandopop royalty held court together with superstar Chinese pianist Lang Lang and the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra, Singapore's only fully independent professional symphony orchestra.

Adding to the show of musical strength was an impressive fleet of 50 gleaming black Steinway-designed Lang Lang baby grand pianos flanking the elevated stage.

It was a pity though that it was difficult to take in the entire scale of the ensemble, especially for those seated on the pitch.

A dapper JJ Lin performed his soulful breakthrough ballad River South as the stadium sparkled with lit-up mobile phones. Then he segued into the more recent song Clash Of The Souls, off the album Lost N Found (2012), with a fierce attack on the ivories.

Lang Lang made a grand entrance with an interlude played on an eye-catching fire-engine red grand piano before bringing the segment to a rapturous close with Lin at the piano.

Pop queen Stefanie Sun was greeted with a loud roar from the audience when she appeared in a shimmering top and a black skirt.

She performed a medley of some of her best-known hits and tried to get the crowd going but was hampered by the muffled sound. Still, her fans rallied behind her.

Backed by the orchestra, she dipped into her signature ballads Cloudy Day and My Desired Happiness, the energetic Green Light and atmospheric Kepler. The orchestrator and arranger was Ricky Ho, Singapore's Golden Horse Award-winning composer .

Classical music had the spotlight to itself during the Concerto In Three Movements, which is composed by Cultural Medallion recipient Kelly Tang.

This marked the world premiere of the work celebrating Singapore's Golden Jubilee, by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.

A lively Toccata, brightened by Lang Lang's playing and showmanship, was the opening movement.

He led the contingent of 50 pianists, who ranged in age from seven to 52, with easy confidence.

As the orchestra played the mournful second movement, Elegy, pictures of Singapore's founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March, unfolded on a giant screen at the back of the stage. Applause rang out at the end of the slide show.

The final movement Fantasy On Geylang Sipaku Geylang was joyous and exuberant, ending the concerto on a high note.

The audience warmly applauded as Lang Lang and Professor Chan Tze Law, the conductor, took their bows on stage.

This article was first published on August 8, 2015.
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