Singapore Woodwind Festival 2014

There is nothing better to finish my holiday and then join the Singapore Woodwind Festival 2014! It was a truly exciting time, with masterclasses, seminars, workshops and all kind of concerts and recitals. The combination of piccolo masterclasses, talks on extended techniques for the Flute and concerts made my participation very complete. It has been an honor to be in the Flute Department with artists like Davide Formisano and Marc Grauwels.

For my first concert at the festival I joined Beatrice Lin (piano), Wang Xu (bass) and Ramu Thiruyanam (drums). We performed Sonata Latino by Mike Mower. We made a combination of the version for flute and piano and the one for big band. It is a piece in between Classical Music and Latin Jazz, and it works fantastic.

Woodwind Festival 2014 Poster Roberto's review in pianofortephilia

My recital on the 28th of June was very special. We performed the World Premieres of Spanish composer Santiago Báez's Sonata for Alto Flute and Piano and Venezuelan Raimundo Pineda's Tres Serenos. Also the Asian Premieres of Giravolts by Salvador Brotons, Para T by Miguel Prida and Poema y Persecución by Salvador Espasa. It is a great satisfaction to get to meet so many active and full of energy composers. Beatrice Lin was wonderful in this concert, especially knowing how busy she was during the whole festival.

I would like to thank Powell Flutes for making possible my participation in the festival. They do not only make great flutes, but also keep flautists' activity alive around the world.

Roberto performing at the Woodwind Festival 2014 (Photo: Dr. Chang Tou Liang)

It was great to meet again with good friends like Lyndie and David Leviston, from Flutes and Flutists (Sydney). They did a wonderful job organising the Australian Flute Festival last year. And meeting new friends too, like the excellent repairman Kazuyuki Yamaguchi, who fixed my flute just before going onstage. There was much tension before the concert! Yamaguchi San was fantastic and I could perform without any problems.

Big thanks to the Singapore Woodwind Festival Organizing Committee, especially to Sean Tan, Lin Shumei and Brando Tan for the fantastic work they have done in favour of the culture and art in Singapore. I trust this will be the first of many.

Roberto Álvarez
1st July 2014
Victoria Concert Hall - Acoustic Test Performance

It's not every day you have the chance to take part in an acoustic test performance. The Victoria Concert Hall, which is the home of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, has been closed for renovations since 2010. And now, with the restoration nearly finished, we have performed a few pieces to test the new acoustics.

The Victoria Concert Hall in 1905 (The Victoria Concert Hall in 1905)

It was a very exciting event. The SSO invited several guests to experience how an acoustic test works, and we performed a short concert. As I was involved only in one of the pieces, I had the chance to listen to Ravel´s Pavane pour une infant défunte and Mozart Piano Concerto No.21, performed by Shane Thio. Margaret Chen performed a piece on the restored organ, too.

The Victoria Concert Hall in 2014 (The Victoria Concert Hall in 2014 (Photo: W Architects))

The new acoustic might be a bit too bright for my taste, but then again, I am sure there will be some readjustments. Actually the day before the performance it felt very different than the concert day itself, definitely more comfortable.

On a more patriotic side: a Spanish company built the 674 seats of the concert hall!

The Victoria Concert Hall was originally completed in 1905, and apart of being used as an auditorium, it became a hospital during the bombing of Singapore in 1941. One only hopes that from now it will just bring music to anybody interested in coming to listen to us. We are all looking forward to perform at the new concert hall when it officially opens its doors to the public in August 2014!

Roberto Álvarez
31st march 2014
Singapore Tour with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

We have done a very special tour this week with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, performing in unusual venues in the city. The purpose of this is to bring orchestral music closer to a bigger audience.

We have performed in a shopping mall in Orchard Road, two local schools, the awesome Gardens by the Bay and even besides an MRT station (that is the subway in Singapore).

The repertoire included popular pieces, and the response from the audience was awesome. To see all those smiling faces from the stage is such a big treat for a musician.

It was a very interesting experience for the musicians and for the audience, being closer to each other. Even some members of the audience could have a little chat with the musicians after the concerts.

One of the most special moments was when we played John Williams' Imperial March in one of the concerts and suddenly Darth Vader and a group of Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion popped up.

Darth Vader and the SSO (photo courtesy of Darth Vader y la Singapore Symphony Orchestra)

To bring orchestral music to the schools is essential to the education of the students, and the audience had a great time listening to pieces by Dvorak, Respighi, Shostakovich, Gershwin, among others.

I still remember the great feeling listening to an orchestra live for the first time when I was a kid. What a great experience that was! I hope that the audience had a similar feeling listening to the SSO.

Hopefully part of this audience will visit us at our home, the Esplanade Concert Hall from time to time.

Roberto Álvarez
9th march 2014