By Toh Hsin Pei (13S06R) and Wang Meng (13S06J)
Since its inception in 1986, Raffles Chamber Ensemble has been home to countless budding musicians with a deep passion for music-making, from Straits Times music critics to members of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of our musical director, Ms Marietta Ku, a distinguished violinist-violist with the SSO, along with the dedicated support of our teachers-in-charge, Ms Lee Mei Yin and Ms Tang Mui Kee, we have maintained an untarnished Gold (with Honours) record at the biennial SYF Central Judging – certainly no mean feat, and, surely, a testament of our dedication towards maintaining a high standard of musical performance.
This year, however, we will be going a little off the beaten path: despite our stellar track record at the SYF, the ensemble will be withdrawing from the SYF Arts Presentation. Instead, you can look forward to a fresh, unique experience with us in the inaugural Raffles Chamber Music Festival – a week of arts appreciation and high-level musical learning.
Through the Festival, Chamber will have the rare privilege of attending masterclasses and collaborating with industry professionals in several exciting musical projects. This will culminate in a gala performance to allow members to showcase what they have learnt from the masters.
Ms Daphne Lim, Head of Aesthetics Department (Year 1-6), touts the Chamber Festival as a groundbreaking event promising to be an invaluable and meaningful learning opportunity for all. “I’m really looking forward to the Festival. It’s such a daring step away from the normal competitions that we participate in,” said member Valerie Foong (13S07A). Nonetheless, members need not worry about slackening standards, for they will be under the guidance of several renowned musicians, such as the T’ang Quartet. This would not only raise technical abilities and individual musicianship, but also widen our exposure to repertoire beyond a mere two pieces that would otherwise have been our sole focus for the SYF.
Beyond the Chamber Festival, you can also look forward to holding biennial concerts and participating in various self-initiated CIP service activities as a CCA. Last year, we spent an afternoon interacting with and playing for residents at Lions Home for the Elders. We also busked in quartets outside PoMo to raise funds for the Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which aims to support the arts education of the less privileged children at the Little Arts Academy. “I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to play music for my fellow Singaporeans that Saturday. We have been greatly heartened by the generosity of the public, and hope that the funds we raised with our love for music will benefit other young musicians,” said member Evelyn Gan (13S03P). Indeed, such initiatives enable us to contribute our musical abilities towards worthy causes, while enjoying ourselves at the same time.
So, what’s life like as a Chamber musician? Every week on Wednesdays, we practise for upcoming performances in our cozy Chamber Ensemble Room. Members are expected to put in due effort towards upholding our ensemble’s musical standards, but fear not: far from being dull, these sessions are leavened with witty comments from our musical director and friendly banter amongst members, who also get a say in the interpretation of pieces and choice of performance repertoire. (Contrary to popular belief, we don’t limit ourselves to the likes of Mendelssohn and Mozart; we frequently perform original arrangements and medleys of pop songs as well.) And, of course, in this small and tight-knit community, you’ll be able to form lasting bonds and share a common love for music with your fellow CCA mates. All in all, rehearsals are less a burdensome duty than a welcome respite from the everyday stresses of school.
As the great Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninov, once said, “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” What better then than to start now with Chamber Ensemble? We offer fun and friends, laughter and learning, and above all, good music – with no strings attached.
Interested in joining the Raffles Chamber family? Feel free to direct your queries to our chairperson Wang Meng (wangmeng_sg[at]hotmail.com), or any friendly Chamber member.