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Let's get this party started
One More Time - A Tribute to Zouk at Jiak Kim Street
Mar 24 and 25, Capitol Theatre
FORMER Zouk clubbers will be able to relive the good old days when DJ Aldrin Quek gets up on Capitol Theatre's stage to play a whole set of house music - which ranges from the years 1991 to 2015 - from the former club.
But the dance music composed of a mix of trip hop, big beat, techno, soulful, progressive, tech, tribal and other sub-genres of house music won't be blasted from MP3s stored in the DJ computer.
Instead, they will be played "live" by 48 professional musicians with classical training; with guest musicians such as current Lush 99.5 DJ and vocalist X'Ho, jazz singer Rani Singam, tabla player MS Maniam, and saxophonist Kaye.
The concert will be the first of its kind in Singapore, and possibly South-east Asia. "'Exciting and dangerous' are two words that I would use to describe this," declares Indra Ismail, conductor and orchestrator who is scoring the house music chosen by Quek. His scores for the orchestra and vocalists are a recreation of the house mix, and not a rearrangement of the groove or other core signature elements of each of the 30 odd tracks.
"I had to choose the tracks from 25 years, and sieve it down to 80 minutes worth of continuous music," explains Quek, who was the resident DJ at Zouk from 1996 until 2000, DJ and music director until 2007, and ambassador up till 2015.
The songs will represent Zouk's early years in the early 90s, to its house and progressive house years from the mid-90s to the early 2000s. Then there will be the music from Zouk's Phuture Room with big beats and drum programming, describes Quek, before the move to Velvet Underground's soulful house with its black influences in the mid-2000s. From there, it'll go back to the Main Room sounds which had changed to deeper techno and deeper house which continued until 2015.
So One More Time will be a musical history of Zouk, but it will meet "live" orchestration in Singapore for the first time, says Quek in an interview from San Francisco where he was travelling last week.
Quek was the first Asian DJ to appear on the cover of UK Dance Magazine Muzik in 2000, and the first to play in Ibiza, the capital of electronic dance music. He was nominated for the Best Newcomer title at the Ibiza DJ Awards in 2004. The scores have been completed and sent to the musicians, but Indra and Quek expect a lot more tweaking to be done when the orchestra gets together to practise for the first time.
"So far, what we've done is theoretical and things will sound different when they're played live," says Indra, who expects the "live" rehearsals to be a riot with a lot of "blood, sweat, and tears" before it gets to its final stage.
But it can sound awesome, as producers Selena Tan and her husband John Pok can attest as they first heard similar concerts in London three years ago. Since then, orchestras such as The Festival Orchestra in London have also played dance music. "We were regular clubbers at Zouk ourselves, and had gotten to know Aldrin from there," says Tan, who's directing the concert with Najip Ali.
"So when we heard that Zouk was moving out of Jiak Kim, that was when we thought it would be quite meaningful to do a project like this," she adds. The whole club-like atmosphere will be recreated at Capitol Theatre, with a flat mosh pit in front, bar tables by the side and VIP seats at the back; and even an after-party every night.
One More Time again is produced by The Henderson Project, which is an offshoot of Dream Academy. Zouk founder and ex-owner Lincoln Cheng is a major sponsor and the concert is also supported by a Production Grant from the National Arts Council.
- Tickets from S$148 to S$168 are available from www.sistic.com.sg. Maximum capacity each night is 1,500 with 1,170 standing and 330 seated. For VIP tables, email email@example.com or call June Tan at 9837 0078. Admission for those above 18 years old with a valid entry ticket only.
Mar 25, 8pm, University Cultural Centre Hall
IMAGINE the strumming of over 30 guitars, and then imagine if they were all tuned just slightly off from one another - so that it's not "one" solid wall of sound but one with a more shifting quality, and with more depth and layers to it.
"We want to celebrate "out of tuneness" in Vibrational, declares Vivian Wang, vocalist, synth bassist and founding member of The Observatory, the homegrown art rock band formed in 2001. The band debuted Vibrational in Toulous last year, with 19 guitars. This time, they're scaling up the "sound" with 30 guitarists from NUS Guitar Ensemble, Genus.
The concert celebrates the notion of beats, which in acoustics, is described as an interference pattern between two sounds of slightly different frequencies. "Imagine two notes tuned just a fraction apart . . . so that what you hear is like a vibrato," she explains.
No two guitars will ever sound exactly the same even when they're playing the same note, she points out, because the sound depends on the person playing, his or her body temperature, the room's temperature, the wood, the string and its tension. "What more over 30 guitarists. You will have this wall of sound - that's not necessarily loud, but really rich and full in tone and harmonics," adds Cheryl Ong, drummer and the newest member of the band who joined in 2014.
The four-member band - which includes Leslie Low and Yuen Chee Wai - will be playing the repertoire from their latest album, August is the Cruellest in the first half of the concert. Genus will join in in the second half, with music arranged for them, led by two of the band's former members, Victor Low and Dharma Shan. The band has written a new piece, entitled Vibrational, for this concert.
Lee Chun Yat, vice-president of NUS Guitar Ensemble, says that it was a rare opportunity to work with and play alongside professional musicians. "Especially with one of Singapore's most influential art rock bands," he adds. Genus is an ensemble with classical guitar music as their focus - although their work includes Japanese pop, jazz and even traditional folk music.
"The Observatory's music has darker themes and more abstract ideas (and) this difference was obvious to most of the Genus members right from the very first rehearsal," he notes, adding that it's a refreshing change to work with outsiders who sound musically different from them.
The main challenges for Genus include figuring out how the parts they were given blended in with the rest of The Observatory's music. "We've to listen to cues from the drums or lead singer to come in as there is no conductor; and we're using picks instead of fingers to pluck the strings, while making do with self-written notes and tabs," Mr Lee says.
The Observatory's Ong chuckles as she recalls the guitar ensemble members' shock at the first rehearsal as the band's repertoire is as opposite to theirs as you can get. "They're a bit stressed now but they're trying hard!"
- Vibrational is the closing show for the NUS Arts Festival. Tickets from S$27 are available from www.apactix.com.
The sound of science - quantum science, that is
The Quantum Music Project
March 21 and 22, 8pm,
NUS University Cultural Centre
SINGAPORE is the first country in this part of the world to listen to what could well be the music of the future, with the Asian debut of The Quantum Music Project, formed just over two years ago.
It's an international collaboration between physicists, professional pianists and composers, alongside musicologists and sound engineers.
The concert here will be performed by LP Duo, comprising classical musicians Sonja Loncar and Andrija Pavlovic, who were involved in the project from the start; along with engineer Dragan Novkovic, and physicists Vlatko Vedral and Andrew Garner, who are attached to the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore. Dr Vedral and Dr Garner had been involved from the time they were in Oxford. The former was one of the founding members of the Project as well and roped in the latter, whom he was supervising at that time.
"Quantum science is actually a good source of inspiration for art, and scientists also need artistic stimulation. Contrary to the idea that quantum science is all about maths, reseachers need a fair bit of intuition as well," says Dr Garner, who worked on the development of quantum software instruments, "Quantum technology is shocking, which makes it a good subject for art."
How does the music work? Briefly described, the software that's fixed to the pianos is designed according to quantum technology ideas, so that it musically reflect the ideas. What the audience hears is still music as we know it, but it's written and processed differently from standard music as we know it today.
"We found out that the duality is a principle of many quantum laws, (and) maybe a fundamental philosophy of the quantum mechanics," quips Pavlovic, "So it is good that (Loncar and I) are a duo."
Two Yamaha grand pianos are fitted with 88 micro controllers, one for each key, which can trigger any sound from the computer. "With this new technology we can play synths or quantum sounds, light, video, anything, on the acoustic piano," says Loncar.
The concert will be a multi-media show consisting of 10 chapters. Each describes the laws of quantum mechanics through the picture, performance and, for the first time, through the sound. They are based on Dr Vedral's lectures.
"When we speak with physicists and when we work on the Quantum Music project, we really feel there is an entire cosmos of knowledge and inspiration," says Loncar.
He adds The Quantum Music Project is connecting the worlds of music and science, hopefully opening some new doors on both sides.
So, if you wanted to learn more about quantum physics, but can't understand the mathematics, maybe you can grasp it through music.
- The Quantum Music project is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Tickets from S$19 are available from www.apactix.com.