Preview: Sure on this Shining Night – A Christmas Concert for All – 16 Dec 2017 – TFI interviews tenor Leslie Tay
Yearning for some Christmas music but can’t stand the usual carols? Tenor Leslie Tay tells us why his Christmas concert ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ is a must-watch in this exclusive interview.
TFI: Hey Leslie, thank you for this interview with The Flying Inkpot! Could you tell us a little about ‘Sure on this Shining Night?’
LT: ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ is a Christmas themed classical song recital with some very good colleagues and friends. Soprano Teng Xiang Ting, baritone Alvin Tan and pianist Pauline Lee are the other performers for the evening.
We decided to theme it around Christmas since our concert is the weekend before Christmas. We hope to provide our audience with a soothing hour of familiar and lesser-known selections as a respite from the commercial hustle and bustle of the season!
TFI: Sounds like a salve from the usual carol sing-alongs. Have you sung with the other performers before?
LT (left): I have performed with all of them in various productions and concerts over the years but this is the first time we are all coming together in the same concert! Xiang Ting is currently based in Switzerland but she is back in Singapore tonight so we have the next 3 days to whip our ensemble pieces with her into shape!
TFI: Sounds like it’s going to be a blast. Tell us, do any of the works hold special significance for you?
LT: ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ is the title of a poem by poet James Agee. We are singing composer Morten Lauridsen’s duet setting of the poem for this recital and also decided to use it as the title of the concert.
The poem is beautiful and Lauridsen’s setting of it is equally haunting. This song is probably my personal favourite for the evening because I love Lauridsen’s works. I first encountered his music when I sang his choral setting of O Magum Mysterium with the Singapore Youth Choir years ago. It is one piece that unfailingly moves me to tears every time I hear it.
In 2012, I programmed a Christmas themed art song recital for my graduation recital from Boston Conservatory and I titled it ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ as I decided to sing Lauridsen’s solo voice setting of that choral work which I have always loved. My voice teacher then, the distinguished baritone Robert Honeysucker (right), helped me in the preparation of that Christmas recital.
Bob passed away a few months ago and this recital is my personal tribute to a great yet humble musician who persevered despite the challenges he faced as an African American singer while he was training to be a singer.
The text of Sure on this Shining Night paints a picture of tranquility, wonder and hope. It is a much needed reminder that these things still exist in a world which feels like it’s falling apart, where communities are taught to segregate and not to embrace.
TFI: An important message indeed, in these troubled times.
LT: Indeed. Besides Christmas-themed songs, we’ll also be performing a newly composed scene titled “Christmas Shopping”, by composer Jin Jun Lee and lyricist Aaron Lee, which is a comical look at the commercialism of Christmas. It has been localised so the audiences will find it familiar!
TFI: Sounds like quite a programme. Can we expect some bubbly to go along with the festivities?
LT: That depends on what the audience is doing after they come to watch the recital. Lol. We are just providing the music! But we’ve also bought reindeer antler headbands which we will wear at the end so hopefully that will get everyone into the Christmas mood!
Leslie Tay will be performing with soprano Teng Xiang Ting, baritone Alvin Tan, pianist Pauline Lee and guest flautist, Jeremy Lim. Selections include Schubert’s Ave Maria, Mozart’s Laudate Doninum, Britten’s I Wonder as I Wander, ‘The Prayer’, popularized by Andrea Bocceli and Celine Dion, and more.
Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio
There are two time-slots –
1) 6.00 – 7.00pm
2) 8.00 – 9.00pm
Tickets are available on shiningnight.peatix.com