My biggest inspiration was my dad, a Singapore Symphony Orchestra violinist. Before taking your child to work was cool, he took me to rehearsals at Victoria Concert Hall. It was there that I made my debut as a soloist, playing Paganini’s concerto. After concerts, we’d have supper at one of the eateries along the Singapore River. The sights and smells along Fullerton Bay take me back to my happy childhood.
Right around the corner is Capitol Theatre, where we’d watch the latest James Bond movies. I associate the restored building with Bond soundtracks.
My favourite popiah (fresh spring rolls) stall is Jit It Thai San Popiah (Block 449 Clementi Ave 3) in Clementi, where I grew up. Dad would get me these perfect rolls of shrimp, chilli, garlic and crushed peanuts. I remember walking there with him while he hummed his favourite tune, “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”.
Singapore Botanic Gardens is special to me because of my mentor, the late philanthropist Lady McNeice. Her love of horticulture and generosity were instrumental in the venue becoming Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Amy Beach’s Romance, which she has watched me perform, is dedicated to her. I can’t see Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay without thinking of my performance of Ravel’s “Tzigane”. The piece has some spiky sections, much like the building, which strongly resembles the durian fruit.
– TEXT BY CARA YAP
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.