CCA Preview ’15: Chinese Orchestra

华乐

hua yue

the joy in music.

It is often opined that the Chinese have a poetic way of encapsulating meaning in but a few letters. Indeed, this holds true for the traditional hua yue, or what the general populace knows better as Chinese Orchestra.

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As its name suggests, Chinese Orchestra is a tight-knit family of happy music makers; we find joy in our music. And just like any other orchestra, we take pride in our numbers and more so, our diversity of musical timbres. From the sweet lilting melodies of the dizi (flute), the distinctive pitter-pattering of the plucked-string instruments to the heart-wrenching and expressive pitches of the erhu — you name it, we have it. Our instruments aren’t too hard to pick up but sound great.

CO consists of 5 distinctive sections, namely:

  1. Plucked Strings
  2. Chinese Strings
  3. Woodwind
  4. Bass
  5. Percussion

We have instruments for everyone; it all depends on what you’re looking for. Anyone is welcome to try out, regardless of whether you have a musical background. What we value more is attitude and willingness to learn.

Apart from the musical bits, there’s also the less tangible culture aspect. We’re a family of bonded and easy-going folks with an extraordinary passion for CO music! We’ll be more than happy to welcome you onboard. Here are some testimonials from our current members:

Daryl Goh (15S03N): “There’s something crazy about the people in CO, and I think it’s that hyperness that keeps us together both on and off stage.”

Kim Ji Hwan (15A01C): “I thought I’d quit after Year 4 to try something new, but RJCO’s warm familial culture made me feel at home and continue on.”

Wong Yuxian (15S06P): “CO has changed from being something I dread to something I love.”

Indeed, RJCO has been a source of happiness for its members. Yet, as a ‘Chinese’ CCA, we often struggle to be heard. We are often compared to and deemed less deserving than our Western counterpart because of our heavy Chinese influences. ‘Overwhelmingly loud’, ‘garish’ and ‘boringly Chinese’ may be some common descriptors for the general Rafflesian populace. However, while these descriptors might have been applicable to the Chinese Orchestras of the past, they are certainly not accurate adjectives for RJCO.

This is because our repertoire is not only limited to the same few festive Chinese New Year songs that you’re sick of hearing at CNY assemblies. We cover music of all genres and origins, be it traditional or contemporary, western or oriental. We’ve done pop, anime music, classical western, movie OSTs and a whole lot of others. We’re also extremely receptive to new musical suggestions because we believe in playing music that is accessible to everyone. For example, in our concert last year, we performed a medley of songs from the Phantom of the Opera, as well as the tune Those Bygone Years from the popular Taiwanese romance movie You Are The Apple Of My Eye.

The following lists the RJCO practice schedule:

Mondays 

Sectionals/Xiaozu
5.30-8.30pm

Tuesdays
Combined Practice/Dazu
5.30-8.30pm

Hours of practices and rehearsals are invested into ensuring the standards of our orchestra: sectionals are held in separate sectional classrooms. Facilitated by qualified instructors, they aim to improve each individual’s skills, ensuring that a homogenous sound is achieved within the section. The entire orchestra then gathers in the CO room on Tuesdays for combined practice under the guidance of our Conductor (or occasionally, Student Conductor), creating a harmonious and unified sound.

Performance opportunities include the biennial Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentations for Chinese Orchestra, various concerts and CIP performances. However, though preparing for these events does take up the bulk of our CCA time, it is not all that we do.

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A camp in March is organised every year to welcome our new initiates and to also serve as an opportunity for all members of the CCA to know each other better before the busier period of concert or SYF preparation sets in. During these couple of days, we simply loosen up, lose a few (maybe more) hours of sleep and have fun! Smaller scaled activities include monthly birthday celebrations to liven up some of our Dazus, and impromptu meal sessions before and/or after practices!

And finally, we close with what we started with:

华乐

hua yue

For most people, the above word will be read as le but for those in CO, it’ll always be yue, and that is our one aim: to find joy in music.

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