One of my favourite ads is that which appeared everywhere in London in days when the Brits were held by ex-colonials to be the Kings of Wit.
The ad together with a suitably underclad woman declared “I dreamt I went to Buckingham Palace in my Maidenform bra” (or anywhere where such sartorial penury would be considered the height of gauche or chutzpah — depending on which side of the fence you are on).
I was reminded of the ad last Friday (Jan 15) when I found myself at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s concert at the Espalanade to mark the SSO’s 31st anniversary.
I wasn’t inappropriately dressed tho nowhere as elegant as my three companions. I was however inapropriately present in so far as I’m not your regular classical music buff and was there more out of friendship with the person who invited me than anything else. (After all, how can I turn down the 10th invitation of this type in as many months and still remain friends?)
So, I spent more time looking around me to see who were there, than listening to the lilt or the tilt of the First Violin, the Double Bass, Bassoon or wotever etc
And there were plenty of famous faces and names to make me think I had died and gone to Tatler heaven.
First, there was Dr Cham Tao Soon in his elegant best who I last ran into at the food court at Great World City. Not surprisingly he was there that night, since he was listed in that evening’s program as the SSO’s chairman.
Then there was Dr Tony Tan, chairman of SPH and the National Research Foundation. He was the guest of honour and I learnt from the next day’s newspapers that he was also supposed to have been at the Singapore Management University’s 10th anniversary celebrations but was unable to attend because of a “previous engagement”.
Not far from them at the pre-concert reception was Mrs Jennifer Yeo and her youngest son. I didn’t know he was her youngest but she said so and the boy nodded in agreement. Mrs Yeo is the wife of George Yeo, our Foreign Minister.
Never absent from any high profile cultural occasion is Mrs Gretchen Liu, the author of several coffee table books. So, I wasn’t disappointed that night either, as she was there with her daughter in tow.
There was also the CEO of OCBC Bank, David Connor and two male companions. Present too was Ms Annie Chiam, a council member of the Singapore Human Resources Institute.
As was another in the same field, Eliza Quek-Bittleston — who with her husband offers mentoring and career advice under the Terrific Mentors brand name . As that’s the 3rd time we’d run into each other in various places in recent weeks, we said drolly one to the other: “We can’t keep on meeting like this..” 8)
Then inside the concert hall, two rows ahead of me was the well-known spill-it-all Straits Times scribe, Cheong Suk-wai, with her Nepalese husband.
I can see that she is as smittened by him as ever and she wrote not one exaggerated word about her feelings for him. She took pix of him repeatedly while in the concert hall and snuggled up to him unself-consciously even as the orchestra played, making the rest of us whose eyes strayed in their direction captive voyeurs!
Still, my eyes were equally distracted by SSO music director Lan Shui who kept bowing in my direction every time he and his orchestra took curtain calls. Not my imagination but poor man, he probably couldn’t help that as my seat 19, Row H exactly faced the centre of the stage!
cake n concert program
So what was my takeaway from the event? Apart from the concert program and a piece of the birthday cake (left), I got confirmation that Richard Strauss ain’t my preferred Strauss, and neither is Benjamin Lees, tho thankfully his composition was rendered by the T’ang Quartet, one or two of whom provided some eye-candy.
But more thankfully than that was that the second half of the evening — all 43 minutes — was taken up by Sibelius whose music for some inexplicable reason I’ve always liked, even tho it isn’t pop, folk or Hokein kuah!