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An Enchanted Evening at the Royal Lake Club 
By Dr Gan Siowck Lee

This musical event, co-organised by Science for Healthy Living (S4H) and the Library Subcommittee of the Royal Lake Club, was held on 27 July 2017 at the Banquet Hall. It was a sold-out dinner show, attended by enthusiastic music lovers from both the Royal Lake Club and S4H. The performance was preceded by a simple yet delicious dinner, which included a chicken curry that everyone still raved about many days later!     

Aptly titled "an Enchanted Evening", it was indeed an enjoyable evening of enchanting classical songs and popular Broadway musicals, performed by Sonnia Chaing Yiling and her talented 15-year old student, Jared Ngoh Jie Ern. Sonnia Chaing is an international opera singer (mezzo-soprano) and a soloist/opera singer with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and Kuala Lumpur City Opera, as well as the OperaSiam. Jared Ngoh, who is very passionate about music and the performing arts, had passed his piano grade 8 with distinction and is now preparing for his upcoming grade 8 singing examination with the Trinity College of London. He was awarded a Gold Medal from the Musa Musica Young Musician at one of their recent contests.

Sonnia is currently also the adjunct music lecturer of UCSI, as well as the Sunway University. True to form, she managed to cleverly weave a program for the evening that was not just entertaining, but also educational for some in the audience. She introduced the theme of the evening program as "Sun, Moon and Star", and illustrated it using anecdotes -- including a short pop quiz! -- about the three great composers Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart. Moving on to a small dose of classical music appreciation, she talked about their life stories, personalities and compositions that are associated with the Sun, the Moon and the Star respectively. This "lecture" was interspersed by snippets of music "Sunrise Quartet (Haydn)", "Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Variation (Mozart)". (By the way, contrary to what many believe, Mozart did not write this famous melody, but he did compose some 15 variations on it!)  

With the tone of the evening thus set, Sonnia and Jared went on to sing various classical songs, opera arias and Broadway musicals. There was also sing-along or audience participation for songs like "You are My Sunshine","O Sole Mio", and the immensely popular "Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin" ("???????"), loosely translated as "The Moon Represents My Heart", certainly very appropriate for the theme of the enchanted evening. However, to many in the audience, the highlight of the program had to be Sonnia's exhilarating rendition of "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Habanera or "Love is a rebellious bird") from Bizet's "Carmen". Yes, no mezzo-soprano worth her salt would ever pass up a chance to perform on stage this famous aria of all time.  It was indeed a superb performance by Sonnia who literally came alive as Carmen, the vivacious man-magnet of Gypsy descent. The audience was enthralled, bowled over by her beautiful voice and singing, not to mention the impressive vocal range. Everyone craved for more, but alas, the performance came to end soon, with the duo singing the all-time classical crossover hit "Time to Say Goodbye", made popular by none other than Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.

In a simple survey carried out after the show by S4H, 92% of the respondents rated the performance as very good, even though the music accompaniment was at times less than satisfactory.  Many of them commented that more of such musical events should be organized in the club for the enjoyment (and health?) of members. Why not? After all, the President of S4H, Tan Sri Augustine Ong did remark in his opening address that music has been proven by science to be vital for healthy living! 

Please follow the link or scan the QR code to view the interesting five-minute footage of "An Enchanted Evening", as well as listen to "Love is a rebellious bird". Who knows? This "seductive" aria may help you tune in to the life-affirming force of classical music, and perhaps entice you to turn up for more enchanted evenings in the club in the near future.  

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