We were at JW Marriott’s Taste the Moment over the weekend, a distinctive culinary festival part of Taste of JW, a pan-Asia culinary campaign presented by JW Hotels and Resorts. Highlights of the festival comprised 3 participative segments for attendees. These included Workshops and Masterclasses hosted by international chefs, Culinary Courtyard – which utilised the space to feature activities that kept all five senses occupied, and most unique of all, the Immersive Wine and Dine – a multi-sensory five-course dinner that incorporated visual story-telling, performances, and music.
As part of the Immersive Wine and Dine experience, Vocalise was commissioned to present an original Chinese ensemble performance featuring a specially composed arrangement written in accordance to Chef Thomas Liang’s culinary journey and his featured course for the gastronomic evening – Double Boiled Soup – done in the classic fashion of traditional Chinese cooking.
Read on and join us on our 6-week journey from receiving our client’s brief all the way to staging the performance over 2 enriching evenings!
Once the engagement was confirmed, Vocalise immediately started sourcing for a composer as well as a capable ensemble to bring the client’s vision to life. We worked through the client’s specifications with the composer to craft the piece and exchanged demos with the client before the track finally took form. The LOK Ensemble was thereafter formed to take this commissioned piece from page to stage. A point of pride for us in putting together this group was that each member of the LOK Ensemble is individually accomplished as representatives of Chinese orchestral music excellence in Singapore. These young artistes have taken their passion for the traditional art form to stages both nationally as well as internationally, and have played integral roles in various orchestras including Ding Yi Youth Ensemble and the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra amongst others.
Following the initial draft of the score, the newly formed collective sat down to familiarise each segment of the music. The result of the rehearsal was the very first live recording of the score that would later be sent to our client for reference.
Following slight structural edits to the piece after the client’s feedback, our composer adjusted the music to better fit the actual event’s sequence. The ensemble then regrouped to perform the final live recording that would be used to aid in crafting the visuals that would accompany the massive video projection on the actual day.
THE ACTUAL DAY
As with most commissions featuring live performances and collaboration, challenges were bound to happen. One of which was the realisation that the initial request for each instrument (a total of 9) to have their own microphone was not as feasible as initially thought due to the extremely short time to set up all equipment on stage as well as to remove them following the end of the performance. Bearing that in mind, we endeavoured to produce the highest sound quality even with the reduction in technical equipment. A quick discussion resulted in the collaboration between Vocalise and the technical crew to ensure that all instruments, musicians, and sound equipment were on and off stage in the shortest amount of time possible.
This was a crucial part leading to the performance so that attendees would not have to experience an extended waiting time, and that the segment would be able to be executed as seamlessly as possible in accordance to the evening’s programme.
After 6 weeks of preparation and coordination, it all boiled down to a single performance on stage, spanning the course of 2 evenings. It was a memorable experience for us to have put this performance together in such a short time frame and the challenge in successfully staging a multi-disciplinary project like this. Watching the audience take in the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the evening’s highlights was a rewarding experience, and would definitely be one we would reminisce and revisit to fuel our future musical endeavours.
Check out what the atmosphere was like, and how the actual performance worked alongside a massive video projection to depict the makings of Chef Thomas Liang’s double boiled soup.