SYF 2017: Guitar, Don’t Fret

By Carman Chew (17A01D) and Nadiya Nesseer (17S03B)

Upon the signal to begin the gruelling 10-minute tuning session, the cold, bare tuning room lit up with tuners flashing orange and green as guitarists scrambled to get their instrument to the perfect pitch. Seconds before the ensemble began their final practice run, guitarron player Novis Lim (17S03M) shot her hand up, calling for the conductor — something was wrong with her strings.

1

A lonely guitar sitting outside the SOTA concert hall

On the 28th of April, the Raffles Guitar Ensemble Y5-Y6 (RJGE) took part in the biennial SYF competition. With almost three quarters of the CCA having no prior guitar experience, RJGE spent 8 months, painstakingly perfecting every note. For many, this was their first time taking part in the prestigious event.

Being the last group of the day, the anxious yet excited guitarists streamed hastily into the SOTA concert hall, the clacking of their court shoes reverberating off the intimidating soundproof walls. Despite the initial scare regarding the guitarron strings reacting to the low temperatures, the ensemble maintained a calm composure once conductor Mr Michael Gaspar stepped on stage.

RJGE performed two pieces.

First up, was Archangelo Corelli’s “Concerto VI” arranged by Andrew Forrest. Opening with a slow adagio segment, it took the audience by surprise when the tempo progressively picked up in the allegro segment. It was clear that the ensemble had taken months to perfect as each segment was delivered clean and the transition, smooth.

Following that, the ensem performed one of their favourites pieces, “I Could Have Danced All Night” from popular broadway musical My Fair Lady, as arranged by their very own conductor. While the blend of bright crescendos and mezzo forte demonstrated the astute ensemble’s mastery of dynamics, it was their pizzicato plucking that ultimately gave their song a unique and upbeat flavour. By the end of it all, the cheerful tune left even the SYF crew bobbing up and down in their seats.

After what seemed to be the most important 15 minutes of their life, the guitarists scooted eagerly off the stage, each dying to buzz with their CCA mates about how the performance went. One of the prime guitar players, Teng Chu Yu (17A03A) commented that “this was definitely one of the more enjoyable performances; usually during practice, you’re more anxious to play the right notes, but since it was the last one, everyone really just wanted to relish the moment.”

Even Mr Gaspar praised the ensemble, saying: “I couldn’t ask for anything more, they were really well-controlled during the performance.”

2

The RJGE bass players huddling together to celebrate their spectacular performance

Sure enough, their efforts did pay off because 4 nerve-wracking days later, there it was on the SYF website: For the first time in 6 years, the Raffles Guitar Ensemble had achieved a Certificate of Distinction. Raffles Press would like to congratulate the guitarists on their achievement.

3

A jubilant RJGE after their SYF

Set list:
Concerto VI by Archangelo Corelli
I Could Have Danced All Night by Frederick Loewe

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