Friday, November 18, 2011

ASEAN Fair: Bali

Open to the public from October 24th to November 23rd the ASEAN Fair was themed “Hello ASEAN”. It strives to promote ASEAN culture and dialogue through cultural exchanges during the fair. It was co-organized by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and the Economic Affairs Coordinating Ministry, with activities such as music festivals, culinary expos, and youth forums touching on topics such as exchanging knowledge in innovative industries amongst ASEAN countries.

Siong Leng was chosen as one of two representing arts groups from Singapore to perform at the ASEAN Fair. Below are the songs we showcased.

1) 风打梨

A light-hearted and festive nanyin piece.
Musicians: Lin Shaoling, Cassandra Wang, Seow Ming Xian, Chelsea Tan, Andrew Wong, Wang Biyu, Lyn Lee, Hong Ruwang, Seow Ming Fong

2) 感怀

Written by the late Ding Ma Cheng and composed by Zhou Sheng Xiang, “Emotions” is a new generation nanyin piece. Written to express his grievances against the ugly phenomenon in the world as well as his positive, optimistic outlook on life.

Vocalists: Wang Biyu, Lin Shaoling
Musicians: Seow Ming Fong, Cassandra Wang, Seow Ming Xian, Chelsea Tan

3) 乐舞 (神韵)

Also known as 四静板 we incorporated a dance to combine both music and dance into an auditory and visual delight, evoking the charms of a bygone era.

Dancer: Hong Ruwang

Musicians: Cassandra Wang, Seow Ming Fong, Seow Ming Xian, Joel Chia

4) 萧曲(忆)

An expression of mixed emotions. Of continuously missing a person, and a dreamlike fantasy of resentment feelings.

Musicians: Seow Ming Xian, Seow Ming Fong, Joel Chia, Lyn Lee, Cassandra Wang

5) 雅击《四宝》

Graceful Percussion: An intriguing fusion piece showcasing the nanyin Sibao.

Musicians: Wang Biyu, Hong Ruwang, Lin Shaoling, Andrew Wong, Seow Ming Fong, Joel Chia, Seow Ming Xian, Lyn Lee, Cassandra Wang, Chelsea Tan

6) 奏谱《八骏马》

More commonly known as it is one of the four famous nanyin scores. Depicting the majestic postures of galloping horses.

Musicians: Lyn Lee, Seow Ming Fong, Seow Ming Xian, Chelsea Tan, Joel Chia

It was a wonderful experience performing next to the beach, the lush greenery all around, several rustic looking barns, and tents with many booths set up for the guests. This trip to Bali has shown us many beautiful sights and sceneries.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

As part of Siong Leng's 70th Anniversary, a CD album of Nanyin songs sung by the late Mdm Wang Yue Hua (she has just passed away this week) was released for friends and members to reminisce the songs sung in the 70s to 80s. This album was originally recorded in the 70s.

Mdm Wang, with Siong Leng, participated in the 37th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 1983 and came in third in the folk song solo category. It was probably the first time Nanyin was presented to the bigger world.

Born in Xiamen, China, Mdm Wang migrated to Singapore. She had been singing Nanyin since the age of 5. She has a distinct style of singing, remarked as simple and yet skilful and pleasant.

With her passing, this album will become an important legacy of her contribution to Nanyin in the world and especially in Singapore.

If you are interested, you can contact Siong Leng at +65 6223-4964 or email to

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nanyin @ Thian Hock Keng on 15 Oct 2011, 19th day of the 9th Month

This is the third and last in the series of Nanyin Concerts at Thian Hock Keng for the year. Each year, in celebrations of Guan Yin festival, Siong Leng Musical Association performs Nanyin & Liyuan in the Thian Hock Keng. It has performed, unbroken, since 1948.

Admission is free.Performance starts from 8pm. Come and enjoy the ancient Southern Sounds preserved and added on since two thousands years ago. A rare performance.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Siong Leng celebrates its 70th Anniversary with a Book, titled "The Brave and The Graceful"

As part of the 70th Anniversary, a record showing the members of Siong Leng and its activities was published in an "old fashion Chinese bound" book. Inside this old fashion book was a very modern and artistic laid out book showing the various activities and developments of Siong Leng over the years. It is like a scrap book with photographs that brings back wonderful memories for members of Siong Leng and yet shares with the reader not familiar with Siong Leng, giving a glimpse of this rather big family of Nanyin enthusiasts.

There are a number of important historical milestones of Siong Leng, the first being the birth of Siong Leng, after its two predecessors have been disbanded at a very important historical cross road for Chinese and Overseas Chinese.

Mr. Teng Mah Seng's visionary and bold steps in "modernising" Siong Leng and Nanyin, anticipating that the rapid evolution of Singapore and the world would impact the traditional arts, led Siong Leng into the brave new world with revolutionary ideas of keeping the new Nanyin songs no more than 8 minutes long. It helps that one needs not having to memorize long songs. Mr. Teng took the lead by writing many Nanyin songs, producing some three volumes of them.

With the new steps, the next challenge was to bring in young blood to continue the tradition of conserving this beautiful ancient music and song. Again, he took the bold steps of putting young people to take the lead of the association.

Reaching to a rapidly anglicized young in Singapore was yet another challenge. Visuals became an important consideration. The next milestone must be the fateful meeting that led Siong Leng to be involved with Rojak. A new and energetic journey for Siong Leng began. Modern yet traditional, historical yet futuristic, these characteristics excite the young and the old. It was a learning journey taken together.

More of these stories are captured, sometimes on print (mostly in Chinese) and sometimes with photos. The young faces that adorn the pages indicate that this ancient arts has a future. A UNESCO Intangible Heritage, Nanyin is continuing to grow its roots and spreading its branches in Singapore.

This book, created by Johnny, is available from Siong Leng.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Siong Leng's 70th Anniversary Dinner & Show

Each year, Siong Leng celebrates its annivesary and in honour of its patron saint, Lang Jun 郎君. This year, being the 70th year since the founding of Siong Leng, it was a special event. And we have a special place to hold the occasion too, Chong Wen Ge 崇文阁. Chong We Ge gives us the space and time (it was like time frozen) to allow our members, friends, supporters and guests the opportunity to experience the multi-sensory impact of the dinner and show that was so meticulously planned and choreographed by the artistic members of the organising committee. All members, young and old, put in their best to create a wonderful night for everyone. By the beaming faces of the friends and guests leaving the gates of Chong Wen Ge on both nights, we know we have managed to do that.

On 3rd and 4th of September, the court of Chong We Ge came alive, as if it was in the 70s, a theme background planned for this event. Children playing skipping with the rubber-band linked rope. A small push-cart stall serving the sweet potato starch mee-sua, a Quanzhou 泉州 dish, specially prepared by Gim Tim Restaurant after a workshop with a Quanzhou chef, specially brought in to prepare for this event. For many, it was already nostalgic enough to have the small tuckshop bowls of mee-sua. But to their surprise, what was this purplish ball? That was the special part of this mee-sua. The life of Quanzhou brought to Singapore. Many of the early Singaporean Chinese came from Quanzhou (Chuang Chiew in Hokkien or Minnan Hua). And so is Nanyin, where Quanzhou could be said to be the main seat of Nanyin.

A rather youthful looking lady was proudly showing to her grandson what life was in the past, small bowls of mee-sua being sold on push carts. She was tickled to see this brought-back-from-the-70s kacang putih man with his every smiling face with a big basket on his head. If that was not enough, this Indian man spoke perfect Hokkien! She insisted on having a picture taken with him. The grandson was, of course, the cameraman.

In the courtyard, as if waiting for the opera to start, the rows of solid wooden benches were lined, and now, occupied by the guests, enjoying their bowls of mee-sua. The high humidity in the courtyard just made it real, as it was in the 70s. Soon, the kacang putih man had his kacang sold out. The even innovative person that he was - talk about the days when one has to be creative to keep one's tummy filled, half if not to the full, and for the bigger than these days' family - our kacang putih man came with ice-creams. After a hot bowl of mee-sua, it was time to cool down with a good slab of ice cream held together by two wafers.

Soon, the courtyard was getting crowded. Some escaped into the cool dining halls. A lion came in bring in more yang qi (positive energies) in the courtyard and the dining halls.

The first show was to be on the stage in the courtyard and so, the guests were invited to sit on the long benches as the first group sang the Nanyin reminiscent of the 30s, when Heng Yun Association, the predecessor of Siong Leng, performed. An attentive audience watched, some who probably knew the songs by heart - especially the older ones (our oldest guests much be in the late 80s) - while the younger ones stole glances at the screen displaying the lyrics. One woman quipped in Hokkien (but of course), "with the lyrics, I could also learn to sing, and better appreciate the songs."

Dinner was a surprise for many. Gim Tim Restaurant already has a good spread of very delicious dishes. To add to that, their chefs took extra effort in learning from the sifu from Quanzhou on a few Quanzhou dishes for this occasion. And so, on this occasion, the guests got to taste four dishes (including the mee-sua) from Quanzhou, a Singapore premiere!

For those who love Hokkien food, this was yet another peak. Minnan Stewed Pork, very similar to the Kong-Bak in Singapore which is already a signature dish of the Hokkien cuisine in Singapore, just melts in your mouth. Alas, for many health conscious people, they opted to skip the fatty part. But for those who appreciate Kong Bak in where its highlight is, ate them with gusto.

Interleaved with local Singaporean Hokkien dishes, we had a duck soup. This was no ordinary duck, well, at least these days. It is the "Huan Ark",  a duck with the ugly red patch on its head just above the bill. This is the favourite duck that the Hokkiens would double-boil with herbs such as "Chap-Chuan" - Shi Quan 十全. In this dish, it was just boiled with clams and sweetened with wolfberries. A light and delightful dish. We are wondering when Gim Tim would put this on its menu. (^^)

Between delicious dishes and equally fragrant tea from Pek Sin Choon, we had yet another performance, this time, a medley of Nanyin songs with lyrics by the late Teng Mah Seng and music by Zhuo Sheng Xiang. The late Teng Mah Seng, the past President of Siong Leng, was a trailblazer who came up with new formats of the Nanyin, boldly making some guideline such as each song should not exceed 8 minutes and promoting singing in different grouping. A prolific lyricist, there were three volumes of Nanyin songs created by him. For the guests and fans who have been following Nanyin performances, especially the three days of Guan Yin Festival in Thian Hock Keng (19th of Second Lunar Month, Sixth Month and Ninth Month), the songs were familiar to them.

Another dish that looked like Ohr-Nee turned up on the tables. "Ohr Nee," exclaimed one. To the surprise of the diners who thought that this was the dessert, it was not. This dish, called "8 Treasure Yam Paste" is sweet on the outside and saltish on the inside. For many Singaporeans, it was a taste that needs some getting used to.

Just when we were enjoying our cup of the "Charm of the Buddha's Palm", a specially blended tea by Pek Sin Choon and recognised by the Singapore Tourism Board in 2001 with its Merlion logo, the gongs and drums sounded. Like excited kids, were rushed out to the courtyard. The show was about to begin.

Some sitting on the long benches, and some standing, and the guests upstairs had a great circle-seat view, the show began with a traditional ritual performance. And then, the main show, an excerpt from "Tan Sa Gor Niu" (Chen San Wu Niang 陈三五娘), in the Liyuan tradition began. The scene was the "Lantern Gazing" - the 15th night of the Chinese Lunar New Year (Cap Go Meh) when young ladies, accompanied by their maids, would come out to look at the lanterns, and well, perhaps, for prospective life partners.

In this rather small courtyard with a small stage, and a small space on the floor, the performers made full use of them. From the stage to the floor where the ball-throwing and lantern dance were performed by students of Ai Tong Chinese Dance Troupe and members of the Rochor CC Dance Group called Dance Inspirations, it was an experience with us audience so close to the performers, as if we were also part of the people watching the Lanterns. And then, a song burst into the night from somewhere above. Ah, Tan Sa was singing from the upper floor of the pavilion. Looking down at the parade and at this lovely lady, Gor Niu 五娘. And of course, in the course, Gor Niu stole a glance up the pavilion to look at Tan Sar 陈三.

This grand finale came to a close with a toast by the President of Siong Leng, Teng Hong Hai, to the supporters and guests. Each had a glass of  "Double Blossom" - a work of art with tea - with green tea, jasmine flowers and a red flower called Gomphrena Globosa - to admire, toast and drink enjoying the fresh flavour of flower and tea.

The guests took their leave, greeted by a pair of dancing lions just outside the doors of Chong Wen Ge. The positive energies of the lions sent off the guests home.

To the friends, supporters and guests, thanks for coming and we hope that you have enjoyed the evening as much as our members have enjoyed performing for you.

Our next performance will be at Thian Hock Keng  at 7.30pm on 15 Oct 2011, the 19th of the 9th Lunar Month, one and last of the three Guan Yin festivals.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Siong Leng 70th Anniversary Banquet

Siong Leng Musical Association is 70 years old this year, and in commemoration, it is now preparing for a grand “70th Siong Leng Sensational Banquet” and “Celebration of Master LangJun Anniversary ” to be held on 3 & 4 September 2011.
This Year's banquet will focus on the various milestones of Siong Leng.The warm and welcoming presentation of traditional food and music allow you and your loved one to experience a unique multi-sensory celebration.

Booking options as follows:
1. Gold Table(10 seater): $3000/- per table or
2. Silver Table(10seater): $1000/- per table
3. Gold Individual booking: $300/- per person or
4. Silver Individual booking: $100/- per person

We look forward to you contacting us:
Tel: 6222 4221
Find out more about Siong Leng at:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sekinchan - Kuala Lumpur. Day 3 (Part 1)


Breakfast at Sekinchan's temple for the last time. We were going to embark on a two hour bus journey to KL where the Malaysian International Nanyin Concert was to be held.

Farewell Sekinchan

Good day KL

Straight to 天福宫 we went. Rehearsals were set to begin after lunch, so the organizers distributed food and drinks to everyone simultaneously trying to instill the importance of cleanliness at the venue.

First up, hotel. After the long bus journey under the scorching KL sun, dropping by the hotel to freshen up before the concert was very welcome.

Whilst everybody was bustling around the hotel doing their own things, we had other things on our itinerary: Celebrating Ding 社长‘s birthday, as well as a pre-farewell tea with our teacher- 蔡维镖老师 (Cai Wei Biao) and his lovely wife.

Sekinchan. Day 2

踩街 day!

We were out bright and early up the bus headed for 天福宫. The local temple where everyone gathered all dressed in their respective costumes, instruments in hand, ready for the parade. Halfway through the parade the sky threatened to rain, thankfully it merely drizzled. So we walked and kept playing for the many Many curious villagers who lined the streets all the way.

Dong Xiao, Pipa and Suo Na: Seow Ming Xian, Wang Bi-yu and Seow Ming Fong respectively (Anti-clockwise)

Not long after, we were back at the temple where we proceeded to rest before lunch while the participating groups went about exchanging souvenirs.

Chairman Teng representing Siong Leng

Lunch was a mini pork buffet. For starters, they brought everyone fresh coconuts and chilled Cheng Teng. Both very good to cool us down a notch. Then table by table they brought out large bowls of their local produce-Rice. Lastly, the Bak Kut Teh slightly different from those we have in Singapore, for they use meatier parts rather than the pork ribs only.

It was free and easy that afternoon so we either walk the row of shops beneath the hotel or simply nap a little till evening where we would proceed to attend another banquet/concert.




"Malaysian International Nanyin Concert"

Dishes served were almost identical to the first night's so nobody really took proper photos of the food. The biggest thing on everyone's minds was Siong Leng's item 共君断约 jointly sung by Andrew Wong and Susan Koh.

Closing in to 10pm it was going to be our slot. As, we headed backstage to get ready...

Susan and Andrew singing 共君断约

San Xian, Pipa, Dong Xiao, Er Xian: Cassandra, Ming Fong, Ming Xian, Joel (Left to Right)

This brings us the end of today. Tomorrow, another big Nanyin day. The actual Malaysian International Nanyin Concert held at 天后宫@Kuala Lumpur.