Sisters in Music – An Interview with Chikako Sasaki and Dandan Wang | The Flying Inkpot
Beethoven’s Eroica: A Symphonic Revolution
Chan Tze Law, Conductor
Chikako Sasaki, Violin, Dandan Wang, Viola
Orchestra of the Music Makers
Sun 30 Jan 2022, 5pm, Esplanade Concert Hall
W.A. MOZART Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra, K. 364
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”, Op. 55
Violinist Chikako Sasaki and violist Dandan Wang, colleagues in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and frequent chamber collaborators, will be sharing the stage as co-soloists for the first time in Orchestra of the Music Makers’ (OMM) performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante under the baton of Chan Tze Law. Aileen Tang had a chat with them about their friendship with each other and their very different pre-concert habits.
The Flying Inkpot: You’ve known each other for years so tell us how you would describe each other!
Dandan Wang: Chikako is one of the nicest and sweetest people I’ve ever known. She is so caring and thoughtful while being very professional at work. I am grateful to be her colleague as she always gives me lots of inspiration.
Chikako Sasaki: I have many positive words [in response to] this question! To me, she is my work colleague, best friend and family – like we are sisters. We have been playing in many ensembles – including a lot of chamber music – together and we really work well together. Outside of work, we hang out a lot and we share many good and bad times. We both know we will always be there for each other. And of course, from time to time, we also fight like sisters do!
TFI: Have you ever wanted to play each other’s instrument?
DW: I’ve been playing violin since I was 6 and switched to viola when I was about 15. I still play the violin occasionally. Actually, we did once exchange our instruments to play each other’s part for fun in rehearsal!
CS: Yes, we tried switching our instruments for this piece and had fun with it!
TFI: So how about the relationship between the solo violin and viola in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante – can you tell us a little about that?
DW: For me, this Concertante is really like Mozart’s operas. The violin fills the soprano role and the viola is the alto. Sometimes they sing in unison but often the music is conversational.
CS: The way Mozart wrote this piece features very exquisite interactions between violin and viola and it’s very attractive. It sounds almost like two instruments having a conversation, so sometimes when we rehearse, we would come up with a story. And when we tell the story, we would decide how to express some of the passages.
TFI: Both of you have played with OMM several times. What do you most like about playing with this orchestra?
CS: Performing with friends in OMM is always a pleasure and I love the magic that Maestro Chan Tze Law brings to the OMM.
I still remember when I went to an OMM concert for the first time and the big impact it had on me. It was my first time listening to a concert conducted by Prof Chan, my mentor from my time at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. Since then, I had really wanted to play under his baton. It has been such an honour playing under his baton, and for that reason, OMM has a special place in my heart.
DW: I always enjoy playing with OMM. It reminds me of so many good memories playing with my friends back in the US! The players in OMM are so active, friendly and creative! We prepare works of multiple genres and combine ideas to discuss what the best interpretation for the music is. I am learning from, and truly enjoying, our time together!
TFI: You’ve played together in orchestral and chamber settings, and now this time as co-soloists. Which is your personal favourite?
CS; I love playing the violin in any music setting so I can’t decide!
DW: I like them all! Different settings give me different feelings, but my favorite would have to be chamber. However, I am immensely enjoying this time as co-soloist beside Chikako – she is such an inspiring person to play with.
TFI: Can you share with us any particular habits or rituals you have before a performance?
CS: It depends on how nervous I am, but bananas are a must for me! I always eat a banana one hour before going on stage and it helps a lot [with my nervousness]. If I’m super super super nervous, I must eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger and then a banana!
DW: I will not eat before a concert! I do meditation to help myself calm down and focus.
TFI: So convince me why I should attend the concert on 30 Jan!
DW: You may have listened to me and Chikako play in orchestral and chamber settings in the past, but this is our greatest chance to shine as a duo and communicate through the beautiful language of Mozart’s music!
Tickets for Beethoven’s Eroica: A Symphonic Revolution are available from SISTIC