1819 Suite

ensemble chamber orchestra

duration 12 mins

written August 2019

written for Resound Collective

premiered 16th October, 2019, Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore

I. Prelude
II. Ceremonial
III. Rondo
IV. March
V. Passacaglia
VI. Moto Perpetuo

Stamford Raffles’ 1819 arrival in a fishing settlement then known as Singapura is inspiration for this work, which chronicles two centuries of triumph against the odds. The Suite reflects on pivotal moments in our history, and celebrates our indomitable spirit.

The Prelude opens with an undulating figure, upon which a simple, innocent melody is presented. This is the music of gentle surf lapping on the shores of white sand, of a tropical dawn at the break of a momentous day that will change the course of our island’s history forever.

The arrival of the British is depicted in the Ceremonial. The strings proudly state the theme of the Suite (a literal-musical transcription of the eponymous digits): this proclamation is interspersed with punctuations by the winds. The movement concludes with a joyous re-statement of the 1-8-1-9 theme.

The next three movements are performed without break. In Rondo, different instruments feature concerto-style in a playful re-imagination of the multiplicity of cultures and ethnicities disembarking along the Singapore River. The fall of our country is depicted in March, before the instrumentation is drastically reduced in the next movement: a solo string quartet grieves over the increasing tumult of a string orchestra’s Passacaglia.

The 1819 Suite concludes in a triumphant Moto Perpetuo - celebrating the past, and looking to the future.

Listen