The Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday 29 May, 2001 – Singapore

After rising and emerging from the shower I glanced out to the patio where Ryan’s fish pond is and saw one of his fish, a white carp-type thing about 12 inches long, flopping about on the mat. It had apparently jumped out of the pond in a misguided break for freedom. I grabbed the dustpan and scooped it back into the pond. It looked a bit shocked and didn’t move for a few minutes, but then it was scooting about as usual, so it seems to be OK.

During the evening I caught a performance (at Victoria Concert Hall) by a local ‘amateur’ orchestra, the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra, in their concert of popular music. I feel it’s important that I see a full range of performances representing the widest range of musical endeavor in Singapore during my sojourn, and I have to say after this concert, I felt that I’d earned my keep.

The Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra is around the same size as the TSO, but with a few extra bodies in the percussion and brass section, and the strings sounded somewhat under-powered in the mix. It performed a program of medleys from popular films and musicals, giving enthusiastically unidentifiable renditions of tunes from ‘Les Mis’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Evita’ and many more. The arrangements were saccharine-sweet and of the variety that, once you put in the rhythm section with full drum kit (whose tempi seemed to drift about like a boat adrift in a monsoon), the orchestra itself is largely ornamental.

The result was overwrought, over-long and definitely over-cooked. The audience, apparently consisting largely of friends and family of the players apparently loved it. After what can only be described as ‘polite’ applause after each number, they hooted and hollered for more at the end of the program. After one encore (a really appalling reading of the Radetsky March in which the audience seemed to keep better time than the orchestra) I was ready for home and didn’t wait to hear the second encore, a reprise of ‘Hawaii Five-O’. A marvelous community event.

Emerald Hill Road, Singapore
Emerald Hill Road, Singapore

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