I have got a confession to make.
In all my 38 years in existence, I have not attended a single concert at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Sure, I have had a few picnics there with the family but none were with the accompaniment of great orchestral music.
Until one weekend ago.
As part of the nation's SG50 celebrations, Temasek presents Jubilee at the Botanics is the first ever weekend of an ongoing initiative by Temasek, featuring outdoor concerts by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) held at the Botanic Gardens. The SCO graced Saturday's slot while the SSO took centrestage on Sunday.
We were there on Saturday and considering that the monkies were seldom - okay, never - exposed to Chinese orchestral music (and an hour's worth, at that!), I was not sure if they would end up being bored with the whole affair. Well, at least the expansive area of Botanic Gardens would allow them to run around should boredom set in, no?
Erm, turned out that I was wrong.
The entire area was packed with picnickers, and I was hard-pressed to find any more green space among the crowd! Which is a good thing actually, since the purpose of the event was precisely this - to bring friends and loved ones together to share their love for music.
One special treat we had was the opportunity to meet Tay Kewei, who was tasked to host and perform at the event that evening.
Ale conked out during our journey to the Botanic Gardens but as we prepared to get ourselves comfortable on the sprawling lawn, she miraculously awoke!
I suspect it was because she was afraid her brothers would finish all of our picnic goodies.
Why, they even got up to some mischievous antics while waiting for the SCO ensemble to kick-start a night of melodious music!
Then it was time, and the crowd simultaneously hushed as the orchestra played a selection of well-loved local and international favourites, interspersed with timeless classics and contemporary tunes.
Even Ale got caught up in the mood!
You can barely see it, but Ale was actually holding onto a twig and imagining she's conducting the Singapore Chinese Orchestra during the concert! Complete with exaggerated expressions, may I add.
So the monkies not only indulged in the picnic food, they thoroughly enjoyed the music as well. For the wifey and me though, we particularly loved the medley of TV Series Theme Songs like 雾锁南洋, 早安老师 and Kopi-O... oh, the nostalgia!
The evening ended on a high note with Tay Kewei giving a soulful rendition of 'Home', accompanied by the flawless SCO arrangement.
If you were not there, here's what you missed.
In the end, my worry of the monkies getting restless during their first orchestral concert in a park was unfounded. And judging from the many families with young children in the audience, I believe it was the same with many of them. Personally, the Jubilee at the Botanics is a great and meaningful way to usher the everyone together in rediscovering one’s love for great music. And did I mention it's free too?
But above all, it feels splendid just being able to spend time outdoors with my loved ones on a weekend and have great music to go along with it as well.
So yes, sign us up for the next one already!