“The choir’s performance for the second half of the concert was noticeably more settled and less tentative compared to the first half, opening with the world premiere of Emily Koh’s Homemade Recipe: Char Kuay. I found the performance reminiscent of my attempts in following recipes from the internet. Most of the time, I’m sure I’ve missed out a couple of steps somewhere during the cooking and prepping segment. The food doesn’t really look like what it’s supposed to, yet it still manages to be delicious (Taste over plating anytime!). Culinary adventures aside, the audience was treated to percussive and somewhat aleatoric vocalisations as the recipe was articulated in a sing-speech manner. The text was in Chinese, and as someone who doesn’t speak the language, I only manage to recognise a few (delicious) ingredients like chai poh (preserved turnip).
The next work, also written by Emily, was a visceral piece entitled Nakuniku. The text was drawn from admonishments commonly used by elderly Chinese women on their young female children and grandchildren, to police and reproduce gendered behaviours valued by the patriarchy. The choir did very well to set up the sombre mood of the piece; two soloists, Angela Lee and Look Ru-shin, embodied the matriarch and intoned her words in an antiphonal echo amidst a tapestry of textured chords. The text and the performance struck home for many in the audience, and the unease it engendered mirrored the composer’s own troubled ruminations.”