Written by: Dillon Phang (19-I4), Jo Yeoul (19-A2), Zhao Keyang (19-I1)
Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)
Photograph taken by: Jacey Teoh (18-E1)
“This performance felt like a barrier which we all had to overcome and prove to ourselves that we all possessed the skills and potential to reach greater heights and be known as one of the better orchestras in Singapore,” says Aidan Lau, the incoming Vice-President of EJ Chinese Orchestra (EJ CO). EJ CO was one of the rising stars in the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF), achieving a Distinction, the highest honour attainable for this competition. For an orchestra as young as theirs, this achievement is certainly remarkable. Yet today, a short breath away from their triumph, their eyes are already set on their next performance, the College Day Concert. In the 4th installment of our ‘Light The Way’ series leading up to College Day, we interviewed 2 members from EJ CO, Aidan Lau (19-E4) and Tan Yu Shuang (19-U1).
The pieces that we will get to enjoy on College Day have been carefully selected to show their best. Their first piece, ‘By The River’, is what enabled EJ CO to clinch a Distinction for SYF. This piece was composed by a local composer and seeks to express the scenery of the Singapore River. It is a piece truly befitting a orchestra; coordination, precision, and keen awareness are required to make the piece coherent. The members had to constantly listen to each other’s music even as they prepare to play themselves. The introduction to this piece is technically challenging to play, with various instruments playing note after note, in perfect time and harmony. Yet EJ CO will do just that, delivering a melody that will carry us down the moonlit Singapore river. The sequences and rhythm are reminiscent of flickering fireflies, lighting the way as we relax and enjoy the view and the music.
The second piece is called “大宅门”, which translates to ‘Grand Mansion Gate’. This piece paints a narrative of the interactions between the rich and the poor. Some instruments take up the role of the rich and playing melodies, portraying the image of them being joyful and enjoying their lives. Yet beneath all that are the other instruments acting as the poor, strumming the sounds of their resentment, anger and frustrations towards the upper class and expressing their complaints about their arduous daily lives. The starkly different tones played by the two different groups of instruments come together to give a bustling atmosphere that would surely leave listeners enthralled.
In preparation for their SYF and College Day performance, it is evident that EJ CO members have put in an immense amount of hard work to improve their playing. When asked about this, Aidan recalled having to stay in school till late hours for practice sessions and having to juggle between academic commitments and extra training sessions in preparation for the performance. This showcases EJ CO’s desire to deliver the best performance they can on College Day. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that EJ CO allowed many inexperienced players to be part of the lineup for College Day. This lack of experience has not stopped them from putting in their utmost efforts and wanting to do their very best. Many of these students actually went the extra mile to come down to the CO room to practice during their breaks in curriculum hours, hoping to perfect their skills with every opportunity given.
When asked about what they treasure the most out of this journey, Yu Shuang answers that it would be the relationships she has formed over the past few months. Her section-mates have showed her tremendous help for her to be confident enough in herself to be able to perform on Saturday, and she looks forward to performing with them as one orchestra on stage. For Aidan, he wishes to thank his conductor. He mentions that his conductor’s humour and approachable personality allowed the orchestra to better understand his ideas and intentions, and hence playing the piece how it is supposed to be played. Not to forget the J2 seniors, who he mentions have been the people who have constantly encouraged everyone and kept everyone focused.
The Chinese Orchestra has undoubtedly put in a lot of time and dedication for this one night. With this being their first performance after clinching Distinction in this year’s SYF, they hope to prove to the audience that they deserved to be awarded with such outstanding results. They have helped each other every step of the way, and together improved themselves from a small orchestra with little participation to one which achieved stellar results on the biggest stages. And now, for one last time as a joint cohort, they hope to be able to showcase their capabilities to the audience. So buy a ticket for college day, and enjoy the handcrafted melody of these traditional Chinese instruments as they come together to present you with one breathtaking performance!