Saturday, June 10, 2006

This year's Singapore Arts Festival isn't as interesting as the previous two were to me. I hadn't intended to go for any of the shows until a friend informed me that she could get a discount off any of the tickets, at which point I jumped in with her for tickets to The Vegetable Orchestra and Play on Earth.

The Vegetable Orchestra, as you may have read from the papers by now given that there was an article on them in every single one of the English papers published in Singapore, plays music on instruments made up entirely of vegetables. Their aim is to produce organic sounds and apply it to different styles, from classical music to dub beats to house beats. The show began with the ten musicians looking incredibly serious all dressed in black seating themselves down on the stage which had their various instruments all laid out around their seats. Then they began to play with instruments varying from hollowed-out carrot flutes to cabbage clappers to aubergine drums to whistles made from a single vegetable leaf. They covered classical music (a piece by Stravinsky), electronica (Kraftwerk - Radioactivity) and even Austrian folk music. The two pieces which impressed me the most were the piece in which they imitated the sounds of different jungle animals such as a mosquito, a lion, a monkey and a bird, and Greenhouse, a house tune which you would normally hear in a club. There was even a piece when they made music from sliding vegetables down a ramp and amplifying the sounds. I was rather tickled when they threw a pumpkin down the ramp which promptly rolled off the stage and landed in the empty first row. Another delightful part of the show was watching the instruments slowly being shredded to bits, such as when a his leek clapper gradually became sparser and sparser as leaves fell off with every beat.

To end off the night, they served a cup of vegetable soup, made, thankfully enough, from the scraps of the instruments which they had carved an hour before the show, and not from the instruments themselves. Granted, it would have been a nifty idea if they had made the soup on-stage but after hearing the amount of spit that must have accumulated in the instruments, I wouldn't have touched the soup with a ten-foot pole.

For samples of their music, check out Greenhouse and their cover of The Radetzky March.

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