On 17 August 2012, a young tenor made his debut solo performance at the The Arts House.
Accompanied by Pianist Hye-Seon Choi, The performance <Stories from the Garden> was about the beautiful summer afternoons spent lying in the grass with a loved one to songs about the death of a cuckoo bird.
“The garden is not just something visually beautiful,” he says, “but also a place that holds warm feelings for all of us.”
“They are always humming with life, love and complexity,” he adds.
Singer or Manager?
“Some days I would behave like a typical singer - Vocalising, studying music and rehearsing,” he explains.
“Other days, I would be like a manager- Making phone calls to companies, doing all sorts of paper work and sometimes running out to meet potential sponsors.”
The experience was worthwhile as, according to his own words, ‘one of the best experiences’ he has had.
Apart from <Stories from the Garden> he has been in a soiree entitled <Belle Epoque Shanghaied>, sang in a recital of German songs with Gransz Liszt and Gustav Mahler and also did a recital in Germany with a friend.
His favourite component of the performance was a song by Gustav Mahler called “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen” (Where the beautiful trumpets blow), from a collection of German folk poems called “The Boy’s Magic Horn”.
“The song is a dialogue between the boy, the girl and a narrator,” Brendan says. “While army trumpets blow in the distance, the boy knocks on his lover’s door to bid her farewell before he goes to join the war.”
Brendan at Mr Tay Cheng-Jim's Masterclass
Brendan shares that as a young classical singer in Singapore, there have been challenges. Few of his peers share his interest in opera and classical vocal works and Singaporean audiences are still very new to classical singing.
Brendan is optimistic though, citing that apart from the Singapore Lyrics Opera, there are two new opera companies. The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory also has a new voice department and Singaporean audiences are also more willing to think beyond stereotypes.
Brendan believes that in time, audiences will get to learn about history, languages and poetry in the process.
Is more competition good?
“I’m interested to see how things will develop in the future,” Brendan says, “I can imagine tougher competition with more talented singers around.
“With more singers, there are more productions; more varied and exciting concert seasons that would probably attract new audiences and benefit the entire industry!” He adds.
Brendan sees himself studying voice performance at a conservatory in Europe, America or Singapore and actively performing and working hard to push his personal boundaries.
“In a nutshell, a financial miracle might need to take place first!” he exclaims.