03 May 2015 @ 07:00 pm

Room update! Did a huge spring cleaning after the huge mess caused by my semester at uni. The thing I love about my room is that besides decorating it to look pretty, most of the things have memories attached to them :) Lemme tell you all about them!

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Singapore Symphony Orchestra - Classics in the Park at Istana, 1 May 2015
Associate Conductor Joshua Tan Kangming
Principal Cellist Ng Pei-Sian
First Violinist Lynnette Seah

23 March 2015 @ 12:41 am

Current Music: Douglas Dare – If I Knew I Were Alive
31 December 2014 @ 03:36 pm

I've been putting off this post for so long. I'm no stranger to procrastination. I've had so many excuses why I couldn't start writing this; I fell ill so I was druggy and sleepy, or I've been so busy with choir stuff that I need to just completely do nothing at all for the whole day - but I think really it's because I feel like I won't be able to do my year any justice.

Well lets start with the easiest: Concert-going highlights! First up, the London Symphony Orchestra. Truly an honour to have been in the audience, to experience the richness of their sound and interpretation of some great and well-loved pieces. Also from London, The Globe Theatre returned with the most hilarious A Midsummer's Night Dream, in which I never laughed as much while watching a play, ever. Brilliant. Bill Bailey also came with his standup show, Limboland. So glad to finally see him live. Also bloody brilliant. National Theatre Live screening of Frankenstein and Coriolanus. Finally realised why everyone fussed over this production of Frankenstein because the set design was breathtaking and so in-tune with the narrative, it's the kind of set that tells a story of it's own. Also yup Benedict Cumberbatch. I didn't enjoy Coriolanus as much but shout-y Tom Hiddleston was fascinating.

Ashkenazy with the SSO. Our darling SSO, who performed at this year's proms in the Royal Albert Hall. They returned with Ashkenazy opening their concert season, and I loved seeing Ashkenazy conduct, though I wish I could hear him play the piano too. Lugansky also performed with the SSO. Ermahgawd my piano hero. JUST AMAZING. Didn't fail expectations. Also the first classical pianist that I brought a CD to the concert to be signed after. I bought it when I was in secondary school so he looks slightly younger in the CD sleeve than in person. XD Wish I'll be able to see him play again!

Olafur Arnalds is a musician that I found entirely by chance this year - only to realise that I did know his music from watching Broadchurch, and it was thanks to a friend that I managed to get tickets to his show. His music is already very emotive, add that with an atmospheric live and intimate performance, and his strange ability to make the audience laugh with his personable dialogue in-between songs, it's totally one of the most memorable concerts i've ever been to; and that's up there with performances from berlin phil and the king's singers. His recent collaboration with Jasnus Rasmussen in Kiasmos blends his instrumental brilliance with electronic music. It sounds like cheesy techno-classical music played by violinists squatting in water, but I assure you it's far from that.

This year was also my first year singing in a chorus with an orchestra, and I got to do that twice! First for LOTR - The Two Towers screening and another Holst/Bernstein concert. It was an eye and ear-opening experience singing under a chorus mistress that trained the opera choruses that I used to go and watch when I was in secondary school/JC. Singing in the chorus with the orchestra was like being allowed in the Hallowed Halls of Music, AND HEY IT'S FREAKING LORD OF THE RINGS. Plus the conductor looks like he could be an elf himself. Or an elf-human like Aragon. Just sayin'. For the Planets concert it was with a different orchestra, playing serious business music from Bernstein and Holst this time. I was especially delighted by the opportunity to sit in the stall seats watching the orchestra rehearse their other pieces without the chorus. Next year on 9th Jan we're gonna be singing movie music. It's gonna be hair-raising!

I also had the chance to be in the music committee and conduct with the other choir i'm in. (you can tell i'm naming no names because I don't want to be googled lol.) I'm truly thankful for all the sopranos for being so awesome, my partner-in-crime/co-section leader, the other music committee members and our conductor for giving me the opportunity. As much as i've bumbled along and hopefully taught the right things and imparted my knowledge from past choirs i've been in, I had learnt so much more through teaching every week, and even more from you guys. If you're reading this. If they aren't, then i'm telling you my dear reader, that being allowed to be involved in the music means a lot to me and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. <3 Oh and, we're having a concert on the 28th of February! Come down and watch us :)

Trip to Hong Kong with Maddy! I'm so glad that Maddy is a fellow photography enthusiast because we interspersed eating at the most fabulous food places (australia dairy breakfast omg BRING ME BACK THERE NOW.) and shopping (don't bring any clothes. Just buy them from argyle centre on your first day. LOL.) with awesome photography sessions. Like that overhead bridge we spent an hour on. Also I bought my first prime lens and it's really fun to shoot with it.

Over recent years i'd accumulated an idealistic impression of HK from obsessing over photos and drawings of Kowloon Walled City and seeing an exhibition of Michael Wolf's Architecture of Density in Switzerland. In the taxi from the airport, it was a strange sense of - wait am I back in Singapore in a 90s taxi? But there's just way too many hills and mountains in the distance. That opinion quickly dissolved when the dizzyingly tall buildings appeared. On the streets the haphazardness of it all was overwhelming and there was so many things happening at the same time and so many people andsomanythingsomgarewethereyetIdon'tunderstandwhatthetaxidriverissayingomg. Hong Kong has such character. I love travelling and I don't get to travel often recently, so I'm really glad to have finally been on a trip with the greatest friend one could have <3

The trip was largely funded by the first proper archi internship I did over the summer, and a few other archi-related projects I helped out with. I came to realise this year that I don't entirely hate what I was doing in archi during the semester and at work. I did find myself enjoying the design-aspects of what I was doing, but inevitably it is a highly-strung line of work. It is absolutely crazy but designing architecturally is the most complex and amazing skill i've ever acquired. I should be thankful for that.

This year's summer was probably the busiest i've ever had trying to juggle choir practices and work. But that's exactly it isn't it? Inadvertently I had created a micro-situation for myself where I had a taste of what it's like to pursue both what I should do and what I love doing. Because why should I be denying parts of myself that make me whole? Why stop doing things I love just because I have to get a proper job, earn money, get married, have kids and then lie on my deathbed thinking 'oh if only...'. 'YOLO!' 'NO REGRETS'. Everyone keeps saying these things but do y'all really know what it means to you personally? For me it's that I will always hold on to what I love doing no matter what and only I truly know what that is.

So as I told my screenwriting friends at a christmas party: 'I still don't know what I'll do when I graduate. I still have one more year to go, and that's one more year to think about it!'. I'm pretty sure i'll be as clueless when I graduate. But hopefully wiser. As the great Adam Savage once said, looking back, his life seemed to play out perfectly, but in was actually a combination of hard work, lucky breaks and chance encounters. I paraphrase.

Speaking of great people, i've discovered a few of them this year that have really broadened my perspectives somewhat. I took an interest in Derren Brown around this time last year and spent a good part of January consuming all available videos and books that he had written. Other than being a very good illusionist and with magic-thingys, I particularly enjoyed his books in which he makes a lot of sense about many things. I found that I share similar thought-processes as him, but never as succinct and insightful and utterly logical as he does. It was freeing to read his opinions and way of thinking - it was like having a really deep one-sided conversation with someone whose cogs works similarly. It is through him and also a really good Organizational Behaviour tutor who taught a compulsory OB module I had to take last year, that I have taken an increasing interest in psychology and philosophy. Though I suspect that most literature enthusiasts would have a natural interest in such areas anyway. I went on to read Bertrand Russell's writing, and later in the year Alain De Botton's School of Life started a brilliant youtube channel explaining philosophical concepts in bite-sized videos. It was a great way to come to realise that great philosophers had already put forth well thought-out theories on subjects that I had already floating around in my brain from constant introvert-dialogue. is another great website that I found, expanding on similar thought-provoking stuff.

Ylvis. I know. Please judge. I did a blogpost on Ylvis. You can check that out for my full dorkiness. But did you know other than The Fox, they are brilliant comedians with sketches and pranks that will make you laugh like crazy in the middle of the night?? Betcha didn't. I went through a period of wanting to learn norwegian so I listened to NRK P3, tweeted saying all they played was hipster music (but I like hipster music, jsyk) and got a stinging reply from one of their DJs being insulted by my tweet. So far i've learnt how to swear (mostly influenced from pewdiepie because swedish is so similar to norwegian) and random words like 'solsikke' and commonly used joining words like 'men' which means 'but'. And of course the standard fare of 'takk', 'ha det bra' and 'I KVELD MEEEED YLVIS!!!'.

I also chanced upon another great discovery, one of those 'WHY DIDN'T I KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE' type of discoveries. It's Gareth Malone and his choir series, The Choir. The series on Military Wives had me sobbing buckets of tears, then I went on to watch all other available series online, and I regret to say that I've yet to watch them all because some can't be found online. I will part with my money to buy the DVDs eventually. The series explains and embraces the joys, geekiness, and even frustrating parts of being in a choir, bundled in inspiration. Totally my kinda thing.

I'm gonna now leave you with a quote from the poet Edward Thomas, who wrote a beautiful descriptive prose on the English countryside, titled 'One Green Field'.

'Happiness is not to be pursued, though pleasure may be; but I have long thought that I should recognise happiness could I ever achieve it. It would be health, or at least unthwarted intensity of sensual and mental life, in the midst of beautiful or astonishing things which should give that life full play and banish expectation and recollection.'

He then goes on to say maybe it isn't really happiness because he's always looking back upon things that have passed. 'Is it perhaps true that those are never happy who know what happiness is?'. But I beg to differ - after all this is the time when I pause at the metaphorical stile, turn back and think - hey, i've been really blessed this year. And especially when such tragedy is on the news right now, i'm only acutely aware of how lucky it is that my loved ones are safe and sound.

With that, have a happy new year! May 2015 banish expectation and bring forth the afore quoted unthwarted intensity of life :D

I dropped by Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall yesterday to take a look at the refurbishment completed this year! Having watched concerts and performed there several times with the choirs i've been in school, I knew the old place pretty well, and previously I attributed most of it's quirks to the building being old, but this refurbishment has really brought the building back to what it was meant to be. Reestablishing this central atrium as the main entrance really makes all the difference - in the past I have a vague memory of the atrium as a sort of back alley that no one used except the staff. The concert hall and theatre functioned separately, but now with the atrium it's amazing to be able to freely walk between both concert hall and theatre spaces.

What was really strong was the dialogue between new and old, theatre and concert hall, which was really effective. The new treatment to the theatre does remind me very much of Herzog and De Meuron's Tate Modern with the monolithic black walls and stairs that characterises much of the theatre. The relief in the panels mirroring the old colonial style works simply in communicating the relation between new and old. While from the photos the new treatment seems to be very clean and clinical, there is a warmth and life that's reintroduced to the building which was previously pretty dingy.

What would have been great is that the furniture like the tables and chairs, rope barriers, standing signs, is designed to suit the building as well? You'll see in the photos that they're everywhere. They probably had more pressing issues to deal with in the design and structure, but a part of me cringes every time I see those rope barriers, or the cluster of random chairs and tables around the spiral stair...and those metal standing signs. :S

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Looking forward to performing here again with EVOKX on the 28th of February 2015! Will report back on the acoustics then!
05 September 2014 @ 11:38 pm

Dear teachers who've taught me over the years, thank you. From drawing me out of my shyness, to encouraging my love for writing and literature, and inspiring a lifelong love for music and choir, I would surely be a lesser person without their guidance.

I was always a very quiet child. In kindergarten I cried when my parents dropped me off at school. I can still remember the utmost horror I felt at having been left at a place full of people I don’t know, clinging to my mother’s hand desperately until a teacher came. She had me sit on her lap during reading time, until I stopped crying, which sounds incredibly bratty and I was such a baby for a 6 year old, but you’ve got to understand that I was a really really really shy kid.

The first time I put my hand up in class was when she was discussing what do we want to be when we grow up. The flash card showed a fire engine. I waited till the last moment. ‘who wants to be a fire fighter? Ok next -’ and I put my hand up, but she already switched the card, and it showed a garbage truck. All the other children laughed at me because I wanted to be a rubbish collector. She chided them and said that there’s nothing wrong being a rubbish collector, and praised me for being brave enough to raise my hand. Later, she gave me a sticker, which I treasured for a long time. I’ve forgotten her name, but she was the first teacher that helped me to be brave (despite the fact that I was misunderstood :P)

In Primary 2, my form teacher Mrs Wong had long black hair and she tied it in a knot to show us, but told us not to try it at home because our hair wasn’t long enough to do that. She remembered me all the way to p6 and always greeted me with the loveliest of hugs, and once when I was sick she came to my house (which was just behind the school) to visit me and gave me a card from the class. She taught me compassion not by telling us to be so, but through showing her warmth and kindness herself.

In Primary 6, I was still the quiet kid in class. 'She needs to speak up more’ all my report cards said. Mrs Clara Tan was the first person that gave me opportunities to speak up. She made me the monitress which is the first leadership position I was given - I'm probably the most docile monitress in history. She also encouraged my interest in writing and english.

In lower secondary, my english teacher Ms Ilan really made me love writing. For every narrative essay she’d write positive comments at the bottom and encouraged me to write more. In upper secondary my lit teacher Ms Ow was super sarcastic and funny and made literature lessons so fun. I went on to take lit in jc because of these two teachers, and have always loved literature.

In JC I was so lucky to have such dedicated teachers that really helped us through the A levels. I remember staying back after school everyday in J2 to disturb all my teachers for consultations. Lit classes with Ms Chan, Mr Guru and Ms lim were especially fun, but I might be biased because it is my favourite subject hehe. We were such a strange class and our PD tutor Mr Ang just made it even more crazy in GP class with his hilarious sarcasm. Just before the As the teachers gave us motivational gifts, and we heard that they were competing in the staffroom to see who has the nicest gifts for their students. :3 aww.

So I know a bunch of my friends are gonna be teachers/are already teachers. This sounds cheesy but i'm so proud of my classmates from JC who are gonna be teachers (you know who you are!). I know they're just gonna be the coolest teachers ever. I hope y'all will continue to inspire encourage and change the lives of your students like how my teachers did for me, if not for all your students, even just helping one shy, quiet student would be enough :)

I'll end this post with a few excerpts from old blog posts from secondary and jc days. My blog is filled with gold, srsly. ;D

February 17, 2007, 22:33
i've always wondered if teachers worry about their popularity.
especially if you're a secondary school teacher, you are under alot of critique.
because in primary school, i don't remember complaining that much about teachers.
and in JC, i don't think the students will be that bothered by teachers then.
and most importantly, secondary school students are in their prime of being a tonky wonky teen.

so anyway, if you're a teacher, and you're reading this, [although i sincerely hope you are not one >.<] this would be good advice to you. especially if you're a new teacher. in a secondary school.

relief teachers or new teachers always do the same stuff that makes them cry because we're too rowdy, so here are the 'do nots':
-do not appear unconfident of yourself.
-do not appear soft spoken. or be one.
-do not recite from the textbook
-do not ask us to play interactive games applying to the subject, although you were taught to be innovative in your lessons in teaching school.
-do not make us do group work unnecessarily; believe me, we don't learn anything.
-do not appear affected by cutting remarks
-do not appear flustered when there is a technical breakdown of the visualiser or computer
-do not attend to single groups of people only
-do not discontinue the lesson when the class is noisy with the threat that you're not teaching anymore
-do not ignore our idiosyncrasies - a.k.a throwing fishballs, fishcakes, wantons from the wanton mee stall across the classroom, and laughing like crazy
-don't succumb to our bargains


but there are some teachers who managed to win our attention, and what they were able to do was:
-manage our idiosyncrasies [like when we call you by your first name; mr keith!!]
-able to make the class roar with laughter and end up with stomach aches
-able to make two periods seem like a half period
-able to make a boring subject really interesting [vowel practices during english! XD!]
-able to make us get what you are teaching
-able to control the class, but be really nice

able to make the lesson really interesting really. and you must have an interesting personality. i know that being a teacher is just being a person who teaches, and you're not exactly going all out for the most popular teacher award, but you know how boring school is. and how life is so short. and how some of you teachers out there love to read student's blogs.

and when you actually do get our attention and get us really interested, that would be great for you, because we would get great grades, and your appraisal would have glittery golden sparkles on the borders while your colleagues have slightly bedraggled appraisals that looked as if it had been thrown across the classroom at someone's head.

so basically, its not impossible to become a protagonist in secondary school, even if you wear BRIGHT yellow shirts, have weird accents and denies having them
laughs at your own jokes, reads out random stuff from fangying's science notebook
speaks broken english, is older than the rest of the school population, uses the overhead projector too often, carries a ruler that he bangs around, causing it to shatter and leave the ruler looking like a shortened stake,
catches people for their socks, shoes, skirt, nails, hair, glasses, nametag, shirt, pants, too low-pants, too high skirts, too many hair pins, too little hair pins, too short ponytail, terrorises the lower secondary, wears black...
screeches in a high voice, has a naggy voice, is agitated when we don't know simple facts, says - "you understand or not! yes or not?!" wears different socks with velcro strapped slippers
talks about her boyfriend all the time, pmses, talks about girly stuff
make jokes about people, loves to show off his singing, teaches history which is boring

oh the list goes on and on.


October 15, 2009, 20:16
OH MAI GAAAWD! Today was pretty interesting. before morning assembly i was watching the 'commotion' over mr. toh's weird shirt which was laughed at by the other teachers. i could hardly keep a straight face when ms chan was talking to me after morning assembly because before that i overheard ms chan's comparison of the shirt to 'mentos'. XD LOLMUCH.

then ms chan surprised us with a laminated note for each of us - and then if it wasn't already pretty sweet, she went to the back of the stage room and revealed the two bags of awesome goodness she hid there! it's a little paper bag filled with goodiez. sneha was FAWNING all over the paper bag but not it's contents. XD

AND AND AND ms chan gave the very responsible and albeit silly literature rep A.K.A YOURS TRULY a Borders voucher! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! <3 THANKS MS CHAN! it's so nice of her! i mean i feel so touched that i'm honoured with a gift. :3 the Borders element to it is an added bonus. ZOMG THIS TOTALLY CALLS FOR A TRIP TO PARKWAY BORDERS. <3 and go Paperchase crazeh! BOOKZ AND MOAR. AWESUM.

...but maybe after As. :(

oh and ms chan revealed the story why she doesn't wear her green dress anymore - because it blended in with the green doors of the classrooms when they repainted them. XD and then Jaswin(was it you Jaswin?) reminded her of the slip of paper she gave us in our first class dictating the rules of her class that included bringing our journals everyday - but the rule sort of dwindled away...unnoticed..and ms chan observed how it 'seemed like it was only yesterday'(yes, cliched phrase) that she gave us that slip of paper.

JC LIFE HAS BEEN SO AWESOME. and it's officially ending tomorrow. unofficially i'm still going back to school next week, but there are no more timetabled classes and morning assemblies. just on my own now, studying to the last moments.

I enjoyed it so much. I actually liked going to school. except for some days. my classmates are a unique bunch of people and the only class i've been in with five left handers (including me) and thankfully very artsy-fartsy and all around people that i relate to. then there was choir where i learned so much about singing, music and people. and my subjects in general really made me see the world in such a clearer light.

i'll leave the lovey-dovey, thankyou and i wuv-all-my-classmates post for tomorrow. and tomorrow will be an awesome day because we have a parteh after farewell assembly!! WOOHOO. definitely bringing my camera. toodles for now!
06 August 2014 @ 05:08 pm

In my photos, Hong Kong is like a dystopian dream, in every frame are textured surfaces, strewn boxes, unsympathetic streetscapes. Yet the people we met were warm and friendly, even when we weren't conversing in half-past Mandarin and Cantonese, some approached us with friendly words (not in the scamming way though!). their pace of life seems less hectic than what hong kong appears to be on the surface, at least less stressful than what we were used to at home. On Sunday we discovered most shops to be closed, locals lazily stroll across small lanes, some sans shirts due to the summer weather, and tourists wander up and down streets, confused.

Looking up from the street, I constantly spy pockets of green dotting the charmingly haphazard facades Hong Kong is so fondly remembered by. Where there is space, little sitting areas screened by plants stick out, though that privacy is immediately taken away by the overhead passes and mid-levels escalator that wind through the buildings. Like a photographer's conveyor belt, these elevated circulation strips provided another fascinating view of the Hong Kong streetscape. It made me wonder if we could view a city at different levels, would we finally fully understand it?

I'm pretty sure we only barely scratched the surface during our little weekend trip. Here are some of many photos I took while we traversed streets in-between our loosely planned itinerary of where to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner in the city of amazing food. With the very helpful 3G phone provided by the hotel, wifi-sharing to our own iphones on google maps, we still managed to loose our way now and then, taking lesser-known paths up hills...but the sights and charming little indie shops we stumbled upon was worth the aching feet.

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15 July 2014 @ 03:14 am

Shot with 55-200mm and 35mm lens, music by Birocratic.
14 July 2014 @ 10:16 pm

Hey there! I've bought a new lens! It's the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, a relatively affordable prime lens that yields relatively beautiful images.

Of course I could have gotten the 35mm f1.4, or even an FX lens, in prep for an upgrade to an FX format camera in the distant future, which meant better bokeh, less lens distortion and vignetting; but I'm working with my intern pay budget here. Not that i'm unhappy with my 35mm - after bringing it out for 5 days, I'm just in awe of the potential of this lens. It brings out a depth and life to my photos that i've never seen before, and it makes me so excited about photography again.

Apart from gigs, which I shoot with my 55-200mm in P mode, I take all my photos with the 18-55mm kit lens. And being a lazy arse, I shoot them all in auto no flash mode. Not even P mode. I know. I admit entirely to being a photoshop whore. It's a blasphemy, I shouldn't even call myself a photographer. But after getting the 35 and researching about shooting with prime lens, I've experimented with M, A and P mode, mostly because getting a prime lens is all about the bokeh, right? XD

The nice thing about buying my first lens after having been into photography for quite awhile (the 55-200 came with the camera as a package-y thing) is knowing my shooting style and what kind of shots I usually take. I wanted a prime because I knew it would force me to stop being a scared and lazy arse and actually move in closer to get shots. I chose the 35 over the 50 because i'm mainly an architecture-focused photographer, and i'd like to give photos more of the context around the subject. But I realised having a DX camera meant that the crop factor makes my 35mm lens more of a 50mm...I think. The world of photography is quite confusing and full of self-righteous people on the internet who hates noobs like me.

Nevertheless, here are the very first batch of test shots over 5 days with the lens. There were missed photos because I was a shit photographer and it focused on something else other than the subject, and I got shouted at for the first time doing street photog ('OI!不可以拍AUNTIE AH!') because with a prime lens, however quick you are, it's gonna be a case of having a camera pointed right in their face because you can't zoom. But hey, it all comes with the experience.

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