“Food is important to Singaporeans. Hawker centers serve up local fare such as prawn noodles, char kway tiao, chicken rice, laksa, mee goreng and other dishes. It never fails to surprise me that if I make mention of the Redhill hawker center near where I live to a Singaporean colleague or friend, he or she will have been there and will know that one particular stall renowned for its  carrot cake (not what you might expect). So if you were a Singaporean living in Boston working on a commission for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, where would you turn for inspiration?  In Emily Koh’s own words, ‘I found myself thinking of home and all the delicious foods I miss that are unique to Singapore…. All I wanted in the months I spent writing this work was to stuff myself silly on all these delicacies at a local hawker fest.’

The result was Jia[k]. Just ten minutes in length, it is a concerto grosso of sorts with different sections of the orchestra – progressing from brass to strings to woodwinds – conjuring up the smells, sights, sounds and, yes, tastes of a Singapore hawker center. There is a great passage for the double basses, which comes as no surprise since it’s Koh instrument. The jaunty pizzicato solo line played by Guennadi Mouzyka, Principal Double Bass, was heard over the growl of the rest of the section, and evolved into a duet with Karen Yeo, the section’s Fixed Chair. Jia[k] ended abruptly with a snap. A jolt to the ear, just like the fiery chilies in Southeast Asian food can be to the tongue.”

ut vulputate, risus. dictum in elementum nunc felis