By Bill Puah (17S06B), Kaushik Rangaraj (17S06P), Sabariesh Ilankathir (17A13A), pictures by Raffles Photographic Society
The country’s flag flew high in Raffles Institution on the morning of August the 8th as Rafflesians assembled at the parade square. As per usual, we feebly took to our routine of reciting the pledge and singing the national anthem – something many of us may have long dismissed as being superfluous. After the announcements, students dispersed into their respective venues for a series of exciting National Day activities.
This year, we were quite privileged to watch and enjoy a wide range of talents and performances which added to the diversity and made it a truly memorable National Day experience.
The show in the multi-purpose hall started off with a bang with the Chinese Orchestra, playing an arrangement of ‘Home’. The performance woke up the few dozers, and set the day’s atmosphere at a high.
Next up, Guitar Ensemble strummed a rendition of the 2006 National Day Song ‘My Island Home’, hoping that their arrangement might shed new light on this year’s theme of ‘building our Singapore of tomorrow’.
The Chamber Ensemble then took to the stage and performed ‘Xin Yao’, a medley of Singapore Chinese folk songs composed by their own J2 concertmaster, Farah Wu (16A03A), right after opening with William Tell Overture. The ensemble performed passionately and with gusto, eliciting plenty of cheers from the throng. This was an unexpected crowd puller and exceeded expectations as not many had witnessed a chamber ensemble performance before.
This was followed by a couple of solo performances. The lead singer and guitarist of Ethereal Echo, Ryann Yeo (17S03M), also known as The Girl Next Door, performed Try Everything by Shakira, from the soundtrack of Zootopia. Its upbeat tune sparked all of us into joining along by clapping to the tune. Ethan Chia (17A03A) performed a piano arrangement of the 2011 NDP song ‘In a Heartbeat’ by Sylvia Ratonel. It was very well performed and invoked patriotic sentiments in the audience, further reinforcing the mood of the morning.
Soon after the solo performances, the highly anticipated quiz began. The quiz was entertaining and engaging whilst providing some educational value too, and was well-received by the audience. Everyone who took part in the quiz received a goody bag for their participation. While there was the slight fear that some might be overly playful in their responses and not answer properly, it was unfounded as participants maintained some seriousness while still having fun.
The emcees, Hidayat Malik (17S06B) and Izzul Irfan (17A01D), were lively and bubbly, engaging the audience with their timely quips and one-liners, so much so that all eyes were constantly fixated and ears, perked. The audience connected well with their jokes as they were mostly Raffles or Singapore-related.
Street Dance continued to be one of the crowd-favourites this year, amazing and astonishing with every move. We did feel that it was a retread of previous performances that we’d watched, and hence some novelty was lost. However, it did not take away from the entertainment value of their performance, truly energising the audience, evident in their spirited cheering.
We were understandably quite skeptical about whether or not any performer could steal the show from the amazing emcees, but soloist Ayrton McCully (17S06D) proved us wrong. Not only did he present a tap dance performance to the NDP song We Will Get There, but he topped it with a short acapella segment where he presented his 20 taps per second paddles. It was truly a spectacle, one which few expected to see in a school hall.
MLDCS appeared on stage with its members in matching outfits. They performed Dikir Barat, which is a traditional Malay piece performed in a large chorale. The members smiled with pride as they gave a heartfelt performance of Rakan Muda and Singapore Town.
Afterwards we were treated to a dumbshow put up by CLDCS. It was our first time watching a CLDCS performance and we did not know what to expect. Looking at the minimalist set, we assumed it would be yet another morality play that attempted to elicit patriotic sentiments.
However, we were completely wrong about their skit! It proved to be a funny, lighthearted piece that had everyone looking forward to their next performance. It was an amazing blend of music and drama that enthralled each and every one of us. It was a simple skit about a bunch of burglars trying to steal a valuable statue, while variously freezing into statuesque positions to avoid detection. The twist of the show was that what many assumed to be the statue turned out to be a burglar himself! A hilarious piece that has left us wanting more from CLDCS.
The final performance before the community singing segment was by Indian Dance. It’s always a delight to watch Indian Dance’s performances; they never fail to deliver the energy, colours and the spectacle associated with Indian Dance. This time was no different, although as an added bonus this lively piece of theirs was much more fast paced than previous performances.
Community Singing was not something everyone looked forward to at the beginning, but unexpectedly and fortunately, this was the part of the morning that everyone ended up enjoying the most. At first, everyone was lethargic, but soon perked up once more familiar tunes were played. The mood shifted and the majority of us started belting out oft-repeated lyrics close to our hearts, and some classes could be spotted jumping up and down together.
While on the surface, some of us might not express our gratitude through our voices and our speech, we believe that each of us can all agree that Singapore – a trademark of peace and harmony- is our home, our country, and our family.
Overall, we could really tell that everyone had put in significant effort for their individual performances, and the student-led performances were excellently executed by everyone. When asked about how he felt about the performances, Chow En Rong (17S03A), Assistant Music Director of Guitar Ensemble, said: “We practised really hard for this and are very glad to have this opportunity to perform to the whole school”, and added that he “would like to thank everyone for their hard work.”
Singapore might not exactly be flawless, but we should at least remember that the spirit of a National Day performance is to embrace our culture, our diversity, and our identity, and to thank the country for providing for us what is ever so unique – a clean and green city, replete with opportunities.
Happy 51st Birthday Singapore!