Dual orchestras dazzle in Yangon
DURING the decades of isolation that Myanmar experienced in the 20th century, Singapore became one of a small group of nations that remained friendly with the junta regime. Though times have changed and a new, democratic government has taken over, the two countries remain on good terms – as demonstrated by Singapore’s announcement that Myanmar nationals now qualify for a 30-day visa exemption when visiting the island.
To commemorate the relationship, orchestras from both countries performed together on August 25 at Sedona Hotel.
The “celebration of 50 years of friendship” featured church-based Myanmar orchestra group AOC (Attachment Of Cloud), conducted by Myanmar musician Saw James Hsar Doe Soe. From Singapore, orchestra group YSTCM (Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music) was conducted by Chen Zhangyi.
Together, the two orchestras performed 10 songs, including original takes on Myanmar festival songs “U Shwe Yoe and Daw Moe”, “Shwe Owe Si”, and “Man Taung Yeik Koh”. Musicians played Myanmar traditional instruments as well as Western.
Conducter Saw James Hsar Doe Soe said the arrangements of Myanmar songs were intended to evoke nostalgia and patriotism in the audience.
“The performers sang and danced the traditional tunes for the citizens who love those songs and memories,” he said.
His counterpart Chen Zhangyi took over both orchestra groups for “Miss Joaquim”, a collaborative piece named for Singapore’s national flower, and then both conductors led their musicians in “We Are Singapore”, “Wiener Blut” and “New Born”.
“‘We Are Singapore’ counts as one of our most recognisable National Day celebration songs,” Chen Zhnagyi said after the show. “It was even the theme song of a popular TV show, ‘Neighbours’, from the 1980s.”
The performance represented a full-circle moment for Saw James Hsar Doe Soe and first violinist U San Win Htike, both of whom studied at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music under scholarships offered to Myanmar musicians for Singapore music education. They paved the way for future generations of Myanmar performers who have gone on to study there.
Singapore’s ambadassador to Myanmar Robert Chua, said he believes the concerp will strengthen the two countries’ already vibrant relations.
Some Myanmar traditional songs were also performed, such as “U Shwe Yoe and Daw Moe”.
The Attachment of Cloud orchestra from Myanmar joined visiting Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music from Singapore in a tandem performance on August 25 to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
A violinist follows her conductor closely.
A trumpet player does her best Louis Armstrong.
Saw James Hsar Doe Soe, the Myanmar conductor, elevates the tempo during one of their songs.