Jennifer Koh replaces Pike for July 30th Sibelius

Jennifer Koh – Photo by Janette Beckman, from

Ah the serendipitous power of the web. I was googling for information on the soloist for the Singapore Symphony’s July 30th concert, featuring the Sibelius Violin Concerto, when I came across an SSO Press Release, dated July 8, announcing that Jennifer Pike, the young UK violinist originally slated to play here, will not be able to visit due to health reasons. In her place is the American violinist Jennifer Koh, who by the way is born of Korean parents.

This is interesting, since Miss Koh has played under Osmo Vänskä, and recorded the violin concerto of another Finnish composer, Uuno Klami, under the BIS label. I’ve taken the opportunity to republish it again here at This time, I know her Korean heritage.

A Korean Greeting from Way Back

A couple of days ago I received a politely penned email from a Korean.

My name is Jinho Kim, A Korean concert pianist who gave performances of Tchaikovsky piano concerto with SSO in 2001…

What a pleasant surprise! It turned out to be a pianist I watched and reviewed all the way back at the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, on 21st April 2001, more than 9 years ago. The review is still at the Inkpot.

Continue reading A Korean Greeting from Way Back

Concerto for a Beauty

Above: Singapore-born violinist Kam Ning. Photo from her official site.

When we were writing at the Flying Inkpot, back in the late 1990s, the rise of “cover model”-style marketing (and make-overs) had begun in earnest. No longer satisfied with dignified stares,  contemplative poses, faraway looks in E minor, concert-ready tuxedos and sequined dresses with mezzo-equipped bosoms, recording labels had realized that if you put a pretty face on the cover, the CD sold more copies. As they say, you can play the violin and still look cool and sexy, you know.

So anyway, those days, it was preeeetty obvious what was happening, and no doubt, we skeptical reviewers had to pick on the performances in the name of protecting you, the reader who has but S$twenty-something to spare for one CD and facing 18 recordings of the Sibelius concerto, from buying a pretty cover with an average performance (which happened to me maybe once. Twice perhaps). Continue reading Concerto for a Beauty

Osmo Vänskä’s debut in Singapore… conducting Mahler

Illustration © André Carrilho.

There was a time when concert-goers in Singapore generally did not expect any big names to play with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).  If memory serves me right, this was about the case in the earlier 1990s when I first began attending SSO concerts and also when I first started writing for The Flying Inkpot circa 1996. Not surprisingly this was also pre-Esplanade.  Still, we were treated to some big names (pre-Esplanade), among whom I can vividly recall the wonderful human being that is cellist Yo-Yo Ma (SSO 12 Mar 1999) and that icy duchess of violinists, Anne-Sophie Mutter (SSO 3-4 Jun 1999).

Continue reading Osmo Vänskä’s debut in Singapore… conducting Mahler