So it was a weekend of concerts. It was Mozart’s the Magic Flute on Saturday and Victoria Concert Hall Closing Gala Concert (VCH) on Sunday. The more significant date to remember? 25th July 2010. The final concert at the VCH. She was going to be closed for a 3-year refurbishment. What would she look like afterward? Will it ever be the same? Where’s the organ gonna go? These were real questions that nobody had a definite answer to, as yet, but were thoughts I found myself ruminating on. Afterall, was this not the place where I once spent a great deal of time twiddling my thumbs, a little bright-eyed girl in a blue pinafore, waiting for rehearsals to start?
For as long as I was with Singapore Symphony Chorus (SSC), that was how I spent my Monday evenings. I became so familiar with every nook and cranny of VCH that even the echoes in the hallways resounded with much familiarity. So, to be in the same concert hall for the very last time before it went for its facelift was, for lack of a better word, gratifying.
As I was mulling over the fate of the organ, the concert opened with Margaret Chen climbing sheepishly out from a little door in the wall of the organ and Bach’s hauntingly beautiful Toccata and Fugue in D minor. That wasn’t always the way organists at VCH take to the stage but since this was a closing gala concert, who’s going to begrudge the comical wit with which Margaret did her opening?
Lynnette Seah and Gulnara Mushurova’s were next in their collaborative repertoire of Massenet’s Thais Meditation and Elgar’s Salut da’mour which added to the thick of bittersweet farewells and memories of a glorious heyday, taking the audience on what seemed like a journey back in time to the days of Victorian Revivalism.
The high point of the closing gala concert had to be Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture where the 3 choruses (SSC, Singapore Bible College Chorale and The Philharmonic Chamber Chorus) joined forces to bring the event to a rapturous high, prompting camera flashes, resounding encores and thunderous applause from a delighted audience, ending an otherwise-ordinary Sunday afternoon on a high note – pun intended.
It will be a long while before such hullabaloo will ever be witnessed again in this place.
Fare thee well, Victoria Concert Hall!