Violin Concerto in G Minor

(3 May 2014)

We got to hear Ilya Gringolts play Bruch’s 1st violin concerto on Saturday and he was really amazing. Such beautiful tone and technique! The encore pieces were a little show offy, but I really enjoyed the Bruch. I think you don’t hear too much about Max Bruch, as the program notes explains, all his work is non-controversially good and enjoyed in his time. I didn’t even know his first name was Max lol.

I fell asleep midway in the Mother Goose Suite (probably shouldn’t have binge watched all those episodes the night before) – I didn’t even have time to nap on Saturday because we had worship practice at 9am in the morning (!?!? That’s earlier than I go to work) which was followed by carting some of my friday shopping to my house (from LZ’s house) and carting his suitcase from my house to his house (from our US trip in March haha see how much we procrastinate), and then I squashed in a few more episodes before we left for dinner at the concert hall. So apparently My Humble House has closed and is now replaced by its polar opposite, Grand Pavilion. It’s funny because all the decor is the same, even the menu is extremely similar to the old one (except they removed the tapas menu), but they got a brand relift to make it sound like a more legit Cantonese restaurant. I wonder if it’s owned by the same people. We were contemplating between My Humble House and Supply & Demand (a bar next to Glutton’s Bay) that serves pretty good pizza and desserts but didn’t have that much time before the concert so we wound up at the nearest open place. Anyway Supply & Demand is great for late-night post-concert eats if you’re not hungry before the concert (SSO concerts start uniformly at 7:30pm, which necessitates eating at 6:30pm, which is pretty early for me)

I struggled awake during the Bruch, slept through a bit of the adagio, but was wide awake for the 3rd movement. His double stops were amazing, and everything was so clean! Gringolts plays a strad, and has a perky little beard befitting his antics on the violin. I wish they put the Bruch after the intermission, I was wide awake for the Petrushka, which well, doesn’t really need 100% concentration. The orchestration was great, and the winds outdid themselves as usual. I think in the future I’ll probably go for Cat 3/Cat 2 seats, i.e. Rows E/F onwards – the orchestral balance is much better for the $7 price differential (Of course it doesn’t make a difference if you are going to be sleeping through the concert :P). In rows A/B you hear far too much of the first violins than necessary.

It’s a pretty bad idea to interrupt a drama diet with things like movies and concerts I think. All throughout any non-drama material I watched in my drama haze I was always eager to get the distractions out of the way (even if I paid more for the distractions than I did for the drama) and lamenting the lack of good looking people in the distractions. Everyone in the Lunchbox which we watched 2 weeks ago (while I was in the middle of You From Another Star) was so ugly! At least when I go to SSO concerts I can stare at Ng Pei Sian (the cello chair), who looks rather similar to Kim Soo Hyun actually, but with a cello. I think if he got the Do Manager hair style he would be irresistible and SSO would have to start paying him to do CFs. They’ve given him his own subscription concerts each year, where he performs one cello concerto (or cello+violin concerto), usually to a hall of female fans. Perhaps the key is to watch dramas in the summer, when all orchestras have a break.

Here are some “normal life” things I managed to accomplish in my drama haze though, of which I am immensely proud of myself:
1. I baked a huge batch of lemon-candied ginger shortbread cookies to fulfill an order (my first order!) – 121 cookies for $48.
2. I baked Carrie Vasios’ almond butter and oatmeal cookies one week after just to use up the Jif almond butter I’d brought back from the US. It’s a good recipe, but about 50% of its goodness came from the chocolate chips that I added :P It’s gluten free, so can be a bit boring.
3. I painted a piece commissioned by LZ’s mum (Monet’s Sunrise) for his dad on Labour Day. It’s good to know that I don’t really need to practice to be able to paint decently. However I do wonder how much better I can get – I think I have been steadily improving with each painting, despite the huge time lag between each time I get enough motivation to paint.

Sunrise was a good exercise in color blending and perfect for me, because I only have acrylic colors and extremely primitive brushes that can only do impressionistic work. The next pieces I am looking to copy are a black and white clock triptych and also some of Norberto’s Little Monk paintings (Arte Naif) which should be quite easy to copy on account of them being painted by an amateur like me. Sunrise will be given to LZ’s dad on his birthday this year – actually it was meant for his birthday last year, but I hadn’t found the time to do it until now despite having bought the canvas nearly 7 months ago. I had to make another trip to Art Friend on Friday to pick up soluble gloss varnish for acrylic paint because the colors I use are very dull. Acrylics are basically a hyped up version of the poster paints we used to paint with in art class when we were kids.
4. I played for a sunday service. Have begged off all duties from June onwards – I think it borders on cruel to sign people up for worship team duties for 1-2 months when they are leaving in August/September. I don’t mind going down to church to play on Sundays (I mean, I’ll be going to church anyway), but having to go down on a separate day to practice is the thing that really gets me because I don’t accomplish technical/improvisational elan during the practice, I just run through the songs (sometimes many times) with people who, despite knowing that they need lots of help identifying their entrance, are pretty uncooperative at looking at me when I cue them in -.-
5. I got work done at work and pretty much wrapped up one project while being extremely sleep deprived.

Living life on the edge like this is pretty exhilarating (I mean being sleep deprived and running on adrenaline most of the time) I don’t really feel tired, if anything, I feel hyper engaged with life. Although for the sake of grad school I hope Kim Soo Hyun enlists in the army in September this year so I will be able to pass my quals. Compulsory military service really kills the careers of many Hallyu stars – I don’t understand why they can’t do it at age 18-20 like normal Singaporean guys, which is an awkward age for all guys anyway.

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