Archive for the ‘concert’ Category

It’s Octoburst time!

Last year’s activities were so engaging that we went back again and again and again. The boys loved the hands on activities, the performances, and the book swop. Each time we went, we spent hours at the Esplanade, and even then I had to drag them away when it was time to go home. This year’s Octoburst promises another fun-filled, activity-packed programme to treat your kids this Children’s Day.

Held annually at the Esplanade, Octoburst provides a host of activities – free and ticketed – for children to explore a world of endless possibilities through the arts. This year there’s also a cute new, colourful mascot called PIP that will make its appearance at Octoburst.

PIP! Looks like a cuddly, colourful merlion to me (Image taken from here.)

Among the ticketed events, there’s a Sensory Walkabout where children will be guided to notice the textures around the Esplanade and use these as inspiration to create a whole new city.

Go on a sensory walkabout (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s My Bright-Light Idea workshop where you and your child will transform a piece of cardboard into a brand new night-light that you can bring home.

An upcycled lamp (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

And if crafting is not your thing, join a ukelele workshop with your child and learn to play an instrument together. There are also several shows, including Casa by La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, which tells the story of a grown-up and a child who meet, get to know each other and start to build. Building turns into play, and little by little, they build a story, a structure, a roof, a house. Sometimes the little one pretends to be the grown-up, while the grown-up pretends to be the little one.

Building with pipes (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

The one I’m definitely not missing is the Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Swan Lake by the Singapore Dance Theatre. I like this series of performances and think it’s great they present ballet in an accessible way to children. We’ve gone for Nutcracker, and the Introduction to Ballet Classics, but the boys’ favourite so far has got to be Romeo & Juliet! I’m hoping Swan Lake will be as good and they boys will thoroughly enjoy the show. It’ll also be Alyssa’s first ballet related show, so I really can’t wait!

Swan Lake (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s actually one more show called Spot that plays with light and challenges your children to notice things they normally wouldn’t have, but’s sold out already. If you are interested in the other ticketed events, you should book your tickets quick.

Besides these, there are plenty of free activities! So many that you better take a look at the line up and plan your time if you hope to catch all the ones you are interested in! You can print out this festival guide to help you along. Some of the highlights include A Pipe-ful Play Garden by Playeum where you can grow your own little pocket garden and together with other kids, build a living and ever-growing pipe-maze! I think the kids will love this, and I’m hoping the haze will go away this weekend so we can head outdoors to try this activity.

There’s also Doodle City where the kids can add their own touches to doodles by the Band of Doolers, Book Stop where you can bring along a pre-loved children’s book to exchange for another book, Happy Stamping activity with over 200 stamps to choose from (and which kid doesn’t love stamping??), storytelling sessions, and the chance to let your kids watch an angklung performance by Sri Warisan Angklung Ensemble.

Stamps galore! (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s lots going on, and there’s no better place to spend the Children’s Day weekend with your kids! See you there!

Octoburst is on from 9 to 11 Oct at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay. The activities take place at various locations around the Esplanade.

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Jon spotted an advert for the Magic of Disney concert in the papers, and since we had a free afternoon popped over to Esplanade to try and get some tickets.  The Philharmonic Youth Winds put up a free performance at the Esplanade, and the programme for the day included music from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Lion King.

I think their most exciting number was the performance of music from Pirates of the Carribean, and it was interesting for me to see that they used real chains to create the sound of well..chains!  Haha…okay, that’s quite obvious :)  But I’ve never seen anyone ‘play’ chains, like playing an instrument, if you know what I mean.  In this case, ‘playing’ it involved transferring it from one hand to another, moving it on the ground, and throwing it onto the ground.  Okay, maybe that’s interesting only to me.

Anyway, the boys were well behaved and were quiet throughout…and in fact, they fell asleep hahaha.  Soothed to sleep?  Bored to sleep? Who knows.  Who cares?  Jon and I got to enjoy the last third of the concert in peace.

Lazing on Daddy, and eventually falling asleep

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My goodness!  Has it already been more than 2 months since I last updated my blog?

I’ve just been so caught up with all kinds of things.  Will update on them if I find time.  For my benefit, here’re the things we did in all that time:

30 Mar: Watched Ugly Duckling with Asher, Joanne & JC.
01 Apr: Went Merlion Hotel with the boys
09 Apr: Watched Todd the Big Green Frog with Asher, Del & Anya
17 Apr: My Mum’s belated birthday celebration @ Beng Thin Hoon Kee & post-lunch chilling out at my brother’s place.
22 Apr: Good Friday – Headed to Sentosa then crashed JJSB’s Ritz hotel room
23 Apr: Ok, might sound a bit sua ku, but Asher had his first real bubble bath and loved it
27 Apr: Ellery’s first swim
01 May: Labour Day – We went to the Istana.  Pity about the rain!
08 May: Mother’s Day – Picnic at Botanic Gardens while watching the SSO Concert
10 May: Went National Museum with Ellery to check out Biennale exhibits there
17 May: Vesak Day – Picnic at East Coast Park with church friends
18-22 May: Asher sick again!  Argh…then passed it on to Ellery! Sigh…
24 May: Asher’s first day in school with underwear!

In the week immediately following Ellery’s discharge from hospital I was pretty much glued to my computer whenever I had free time cos I discovered the joy of Sidereel!  It’s a website that has entire seasons of episodes of so many TV shows.  And to my immense joy I found Gilmore Girls.  I’m a big big fan of the series, but never got to watch beyond season 4.  Since I was cooped up in the isolation ward with Ellery and didn’t want to use the TV cos I didn’t want him watching TV all day, I ended up watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls.

Ellery took almost 6 weeks to completely recover and not sound chesty anymore.  It might have taken longer because as he was on the road to recovery, he picked up another cough from Asher who had picked it up from someone in school.  When Ellery fully recovered there was a very obvious lifting of his spirits.  He was cheerful even while he was ill, but he was deliriously happy when he recovered fully.  He was laughing at everything, smiling at anything.  He was a real joy, highly entertaining, incredibly adorable and funny.  Then he caught another cough from Asher, who again caught it from someone.  SIGH!  Why are there so many germs in pre-school?!!?

Thankfully, the bug isn’t as strong this time around, and it seems to have afflicated Asher more severly than Ellery.  Asher was home for most of last week.  So it was two boys at home simultaneously for almost a week.  It surprised me and gave me confidence that handling them both for an entire day actually isn’t that bad.  Putting Asher down for a nap was much easier than anticipated.  He was cooperative. He was loving and understanding towards Ellery, knowing when Ellery needed Mummy.  In those times, he’d play quietly by himself.  The three of us just hung out, played and read together those few days.  It was of course quite tiring for me.  I didn’t get much rest because when Asher napped, Ellery was awake so I’d handle him.  But it made me happy too cos I’d have some dedicated time with Ellery.

The arrival of this bug saw Asher’s appetite plummet again.  It’s back to those days of eating nothing.  I can serve up his favourite foods, and he’d say firmly “I do not want to eat anything”.  Initially he was really ill, so I figured he really doesn’t have the appetite.  But now that he’s well the phase has continued, much to my frustration.  I’m having to rediscover the zen I once possessed about his non-existent appetite.  On the bright side, while last week he rejected even his never-before-rejected fruits, this week he’s at least eating fruits again.  Asher is effectively vegetarian now though.  He’s never been a great fan of meat (except in bolognaise style, or shepherd’s pie), and now he’s rejecting all fish too, even the previously fail-safe fish fingers.  Actually, even veg he’s rejecting.  He used to eat any veg, even the green leafies…now only corn, carrot, peas…aka the frozen veggies.  Broccoli and cabbage are ‘usually’ foods, capsicums generally an ‘always’ food, mushrooms were an ‘always’ now downgraded to ‘usually’ food, and funnily enough celery a ‘only at por por’s house’ food.

But where his appetite leaves much to be desired, I’m so so proud of him that he’s successfully gone 2 days in school in underwear!  Only at nap time does he wear a diaper.  After he wakes it’s back into underwear again.  I’m really so happy.  It’s not been difficult toilet training him, just a long-drawn affair.  I tried when he was younger using the babysigns thing, worked for a littttttlle while, then stopped.  I decided to not bother with toilet training until he was older, esp since a new baby was on the way and he might regress.  After Ellery was born I’d let him sit on the toilet before his shower every night.  That worked.  Then one weekend several weeks back I decided to let him try wearing underwear at home since we were staying in.  He wet himself once.  But after that went the rest of the morning dry.  We tried that another 3 times.  The 2nd time he stayed dry throughout the morning, peeing in the potty when I brought him there.  The 3rd time wet himself once.  The 4th time no accidents – that was on Sunday 23 May.  I decided to just try letting him wear underwear in school.  And he’s had no accidents so far!  Yippie!  Hope it keeps up.  And then of course there’ll be the night hurdle to cross.  But that’s another milestone.

On Ellery, one very sweet thing that resulted from the hospital stay was that we bonded a lot, and he showed a clear preference for me after by being quite clingy.  There was already a mummy-preference prior to the stay, but it was really cemented after.  I could really feel the difference.  And I guess it’s to be expected since I was by his side constantly during the 4 days.  I hardly saw light of day…lost track of time since we were in the isolation ward with no windows.  When he was being poked and suctioned I was the one holding his hands.  Also, it was probably the first time that he’d had me all to himself for such a long stretch.  Normally there’s always Asher around who’ll talk my attention away from Ellery.  So even though it was an unfortunate event, I think there was something really good that came out of it.

I’ll end this long catch-up post with a funny quirk about the boys.  Asher continues to be on the small side.  At 2.5yrs he’s not even 13kg yet, that’s at about the 25th percentile.  When he was a baby he was quite consistently ard 5th percentile for weight.  For height he was always on the tall side.  Ellery on-the-other-hand is a hovering around 97th percentile in weight!  He lost no weight at all during his bout of pneumonia.  There’s one pair of shorts that Asher can still wear (a little tight) that Ellery can also wear (a little loose)!  Maybe they’ll be sharing a wardrobe sooner than I think!

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Celebrated Mother’s Day with an SSO Concert in the Park at Botanic Gardens.  I’ve always enjoyed going there for performances.  When I was a secondary school student I used to buy some bread and ham, or a pack of chips, or even just a box of honey stars and go watch the performance by myself using my haversack as a mat.  Many years on and I’ve a husband and two kids!  Never crossed my mind at the performances all those years ago that one day I’d be sitting on those same slopes with a family of my own.

Asher thought the stage looked like a fish eating the musicians

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Bolivian Baroque

It was meant as a treat for Jon & I. I booked tickets to Bolivian Baroque: Music from the Missions of Chiquitos and Moxos Indians concert in Singapore at the Esplanade Concert Hall. It was performed by Britain’s period classical group Florilegium and several Bolivian Soloists.

I had heard on the radio that the music was as stirring as some of the ‘greats’ in the classicial music world, so was interested to go and listen to them. It was a one night only show, and I was surprised to see that the ticket sales were so poor. When we got there we were told by the ushers that they were ‘dressing down’ the house, so we got a ticket upgrade! Great for us! And the first time I’ve experienced such a thing in Singapore. I remember in London we regularly got pushed up whenever there were empty seats in front. But it really was very empty. The attendees filled up mainly the stall and a few of the circle 1 seats. Which is also okay for us, cos it made the performance more intimate, but I wondered how the performers felt.

Anyway, the music was spritely and as they played I had scenes of ladies and gentlemen in their elaborate costumes dancing in a castle somewhere in England in the 17th Century. I particularly enjoyed their pastoral pieces (can’t rem the title right now, will go dig it up), and absolutely loved their encore piece which was a rendition of a traditional Bolivian song. That tune stuck in my head of most of the night after the concert.

Besides the music, I loved watching the musicians perform. The other concerts I’ve been to usually had a conductor directing the orchestra. But this was a small group with no conductor. Instead, through nods of their heads, or just looking at each other’s eyes they’d coordinate and play together. They were animated too! Almost like watching a dance (but of course much less feet movement). It was music and passion mixed into one. There has to be passion for them to decide to devote their life to the study of period music. The violinists (Bojan Cicic and Jennifer Morsches) in particular were wonderful to watch. They really had chemistry on stage. And Ashley Solomon (the Director of Florilegium) truly brought the recorder to life! I remember playing the recorder in primary school, and I could never make it sound like that! He was such a beautiful flute player too, handling the instrument with a light and expert touch.

The Bolivian singers were varied in their styles, but complemented one another well. The complexity of some of the vocal arrangements made the singers very much a part of the orchestra. It’s was really a case of their voices being an instrument.

I’m glad we went and had a sneak peak into the world of Bolivian baroque music that was lost to the world for such a long time, and has now be resurrected for the enjoyment of all!

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Rachael Yamagata

Jon managed to get a pair of tickets to the Rachael Yamagata concert which was held at the Esplanade. It was the first time he and I were attending a concert since Asher came along, so it was a much anticipated evening for us! It was nice to be out, just the two of us, and doing what we used to do in London – going to the theatre for a concert/musical/play. Lots of thanks to my Mum who took time out to help watch Asher :)

I must confess, that even though I was glad to have time alone with Jon, I did also miss Asher. I mean, I’m usually with him 24/7. There have been a few occasions that I have left Asher to my Mum’s very good care, but that night was going to be the longest period I’d been away from Asher. There have been times when everything was good and fine, but on a previous occasion Asher had been very unhappy with having to drink from the bottle (when we were still trying to give him that) that he cried alot during the feed. On another occasion, he was already so tired he was crying during his bath, and once the lights were out he just knocked out. So, I was a little worried that he would either be fussy during the feed, or during the bath. I was also particularly concerned cos when we were in the theatre there was no reception, so should there have been any problem, my mum wouldn’t have been able to contact us! What could I do but pray that God will take care of everything. In the end, it was all ok. Thank God! I think motherhood has made me worry more, at least with respect to Asher.

Anyway, the performance was opened with local act Jack & Rai. They were quite good, though I must say Rai has better vocals than Jack. Jack’s enunciation when singing is not that clear, so I missed the lyrics of the song he sang. His accent also sounded a bit too affected. Rai, on the other hand, had warm and inviting voice, and very good voice control. I also notice that they are, I think, influenced by flamenco style guitar playing, and incoporated such strumming and rifts in a few of their songs. It was a good opening act in and of itself, also because they fit Rachael’s style quite well.

Rachael’s performance was very good indeed, and she bantered a lot with the audience, telling us the stories behind her songs, telling us about herself, etc. I felt that it was an intimate performance, and it really showed off her personality very well. I particularly loved her song “Sunday Afternoon”. I think that’s definitely my favorite song of hers so far. It’s about how someone tries to be strong and walk away, but can’t last long, only until Sunday Afternoon. The other song I thought was sooo sweet was “Meet Me By the Water”.

Her songs have very good rhythm, melody and flow, and for many of the songs I found myself imagining choreography to accompany the song. I kept whispering to Jon after those songs, “I can imagine a dance to that!” And then later, “Oh! I can imagine a dance to that too!”

Her ballads are the type of songs I could imagine myself listening to when sad and low, especially during my growing up years when nursing a broken heart? Heh. She’s got a rock edge too, which is great, and makes for a more diverse range of songs, enabling her to bring out more aspects of human relationships, which she likes to explore.

But the funny thing was that I left the performance thinking that she was a good performer, had a wide range of styles, but that she was maybe too much of a Jack of all trades. For the ballads, I thought it reminded me a little of Sarah Mclachlan, for rock I thought of other artists, for the ambient feel present in some songs I thought of Kitaro. I guess I felt she’s not the best in each area, nor the most original, but perhaps that’s what makes her unique. She’s able to pull together the disparate styles in her own characteristic way.

I’d definitely be interested to hear more of her stuff – especially if choreographing! :)

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Jon & I caught Rihanna’s performance at the O2! :)

Yes, we did see some people bringing umbrellas for the concert.

Anyway, in contrast to Smashing Pumpkins where most people were around our age, this time around most of the people attending were young, screaming girls. Gosh. They can really scream. When Rihanna first appeared I thought I would go deaf! Already our ears had a pre-taste of what those vocal chords were capable of. When some celeb (I assume) came in, the girls all started screaming, and already I thought that was loud. Actually, I first heard the screaming then noticed they were screaming over someone that I totally didn’t recognise. Jon and I asked the couple next to us (who happened to be around our age) who that guy was, and they didn’t know either. I think we’re all too old to know these things… :) But yes, there were some others our age and older. But the bulk of the crowd were kids (with chaperons!) and teenagers. Actually it’s quite cute to see parents and their kids bonding over this event :)

But lest we sound like old fuddy duddies, we actually knew quite a lot of her songs :) Jon was surprised that certain songs he was familiar with were sung by her.

Paying tribute to Bob Marley

She put up a good show, and actually sang during the concert, not lip-sync, though the back-up singers did a lot of singing too. But I like her voice, there’s a distinctive tone to it. Still, the concert felt more rehearsed and structured than the others that I’ve been to here. I guess it’s cos she has to coordinate the songs with the dancers and dance routines, with props and multi-media displays behind. So she had less leeway to improvise. It’s probably all timed and choreographed. But that’s probably how it is with a lot of pop acts like Spice Girls and Kylie Minogue I think. Saw on TV the Spice Girls rehearsing their moves for their latest tour that just ended. On the other hand, Smashing Pumpkins was a rocking good time that felt free form and independent, and Mika was an intimate affair and crazy fun (even if he did have dancers occasionally, they really just pranced around freely in a non-choreographed way).

Overall it was a worthwhile trip, and fun to join in and sing the songs when I knew them…and of course we all know the ella-ella song! :)

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Shan, Ben, E-Ping, and I went for the Mika concert at the Brixton Academy. Unfortunately, Jon was unable to make it that day. Brixton Academy is a very nice location for concerts. Although it’s an indoor location, once inside you somehow feel like it’s an outdoor stage cos of the wide spaces and overhanging balconies. It’s small size (relative to the O2) also makes it feel quite cosy.

Mika was just recently awarded the Best Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards. His more well-known songs include “Grace Kelly”, “Big Girls”, “Lollipop”, and “Love Today”. You should check out his website which has excerpts from his songs. I like how it’s so whimsical and carnival-like.

The whole performance was very feel-good and whimsical. Lots of jumping, lots of hand-swaying, and sing-a-long whenever we knew the lyrics :) I also thought the lighting and decor was very good. It fit in very well with his style of music and the atmosphere of the night.

Even the encore was hilarious. The musicians, dancers, and Mika himself dressed up in animal costumes and acted out a silly skit. Then as Mika burst into “Lollipop”, giant balloons started to fall from the ceiling, and tons of confetti was blown about. Great way to end a happy concert :)

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Smashing Pumpkins!

Jon & went to catch the Smashing Pumpkins concert at the O2 and it was FANTASTIC!

I haven’t been for a rock concert in ages, and I’m not sure if the one I went for even truly counts as rock. Anyway, this was a fabulous gig. Rock sounds so good live!

Jon & I had really good seats – not in the standing area, but just above it. From observation during the night it seems that if you’re in the pit, the only fun place to be is right in front, otherwise it can be quite a drag cos you can’t see much. Sitting just above the pit you have the feeling of being part of the crowd but with better view of the stage, and a lot more comfort.

I predicted that most of the people who would be attending the concert would be around our age plus minus a few years. All of us would be going there to relive our teenage years! :) And true enough, everyone looked around our age! And I bet there must have been a disproportionate number of people born in 1979 as well. I’m sure the Pumpkins won a ton of fans from that generation :)

Speaking of that song, Billy Corgan performed a superb solo acoustic version of it. It started hilariously with Billy giving his rendition of the Girls Aloud song ‘Call The Shots’. He was saying how that was the greatest song ever written and how much he liked it, and then he suddenly surprised everyone by launching into 1979!! The crowd went wild! It was more than we could have asked for! You have to listen to it for yourself! I tried several times to upload the video but it’s too large, such a pity.

We had such a great time! Now if only U2 were playing somewhere around UK/Ireland before we go back…

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