By Amy Ng (13A01E)
As the school term came to an end (thank goodness!), Guitar Ensemble welcomed the wearied souls of teachers and students alike to enjoy a night of fun and musical entertainment. Indeed, there were so many guests that a certain unfortunate reporter was reduced to being seated at the top level of the theater. However, this definitely did not in any way diminish the wonderful performance that unfolded on the (far) stage below.
The night’s concert began with the poignant melody of ‘Core ‘N Grato’ (Ungrateful Heart), performed by the Main Ensemble and Guest Cellist, Maggie Ng. This was followed by a rousing tune of ‘America’, before moving on to the long-awaited popular musical piece ‘Discombobulate’, from the Hollywood blockbuster Sherlock Holmes. Played by the Junior Ensemble, their skillful picking and strumming certainly brought to life the mischievous eccentric persona embodied within the staccato beats. Continuing the journey into the Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals, the Junior Ensemble subsequently performed the song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ which needs no epitaph.
Next, a group of Year 6s came forth, ready to enthrall the audience with the well-known tunes of Adele’s songs. Sadly, the heartrending expressiveness of Adele was somewhat unrecognizable during the transition of the songs, leaving the audience hanging as they waited for the next identifiable beat. Although heartbreak may have been inevitable, Guitar Ensemble did know how to fix a broken heart with a cheerful song of ‘Tico Tico No Fuba’ brought together using the Niibori Method which involves using a variety of differently pitched guitars to widen the performance repertoire.
Bringing Broadway to the stage, Guitar Ensemble then performed ‘Dancing through Life’ from the original Broadway Production of ‘Wicked’. This light-hearted tune was uplifting and definitely drove home the message not to “invite stress in”. Instead, Guitar Ensemble invited a bout of nostalgia by strumming their way into the childhood memories of many in a ‘Nursery Rhyme Medley’ and ‘Doraemon no Uta’, the theme song from the popular cartoon about an ear-less blue robot cat. These were followed by the songs ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and ‘Stand By Me Tonight’, with the latter involving an unexpected joining of vocals. However, much to the audience’s dismay, the performers’ singing sounded “quite off”, as aptly put by one of the audience, Reetaza (13SO6J). This could however perhaps be attributed to a case of the nerves as Eleanor (13AO1E), a member of the Junior Ensemble, assured me that “during rehearsals they sounded really good”.
Post-intermission, the Main Ensemble picked up the pace once again with the piece ‘Only Love’ followed by the delightful tune of ‘Brazilian Coffee’ and ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ by the Year 5s. However, staying true to our Asian roots, the next song played was from the 2011 Taiwanese flick ‘You are the Apple of my Eye’. In a bid to re-enact the image from the poster of the film, all eight guitarists wore white shirts and jeans, leaving their feet bare. Wiggling toes aside, they soon revealed the Chinese title on their shirts: “我们一起追的女孩”, much to the amusement of the audience. This was then followed by a rendition of ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by five guitarists, singing while huddled over a single guitar. However, it ended up sounding quite jarring to the ears as the first singer could barely be heard and the rest of their voices did not seem to blend with the music of the guitar. Perhaps Guitar Ensemble should really reconsider the overall experience of the listener when adding in vocals, so as not to waste their talent on the guitar.
Spicing up the stage, the Michael Jackson classic Billie Jean was then played to “exemplify the MJ spirit” as explained by Guitar Ensemble President Abirami Ashok Kumar. This included his iconic pose with legs crossed, arm raised and hat in hand. Last but not least, the Combined RIGE (Year 1 to 6) EXCO and the Main Ensemble presented the two pieces ‘Minuetto’ and ‘Viva La Guitarra’ respectively. However, the night was still young and with the unending shouts of ‘encore!’ the Guitar Ensemble gracefully obliged with the theme song of Zorro, conducted under the masterful baton of Mr. Michael Gaspar. He was, unfortunately, prematurely relieved of his duties by a gun-wielding masked bandit, played by Guitar Ensemble Vice-President Keith Ong Xun. Not to be defeated, Mr. Gaspar soon returned with mask, hat and cloak in hand to regain his position as conductor in true Zorro style. Amazed by the grand finale, one could only wish the rest of the show had been as entertaining as the end.
As the concert came to a close with uncontrollable laughter and much mirth, I am sure that the audience would agree that it was indeed ‘an experience like no other’.