CCA Previews ’18: Piano Ensemble

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By Ashlyn Ng (18S03H), Chairperson

“Oh, you’re from Piano Ensemble? How many pianos do y’all have?” This was a common question I received during the first few days after being sorted into our classes, when everyone was trying to get to know their classmates better by asking about each other’s’ CCAs. But if you, like many others, envision a piano ensemble to consist of ten pianists each having their own piano on stage, then we’re sorry to disappoint, for we usually only play in groups of twos to fours (except for our batch piece!) on one to two pianos. Nevertheless, the amount of teamwork, collaboration, and musicality required is still just as essential, which makes perfecting each piece just as challenging.

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Batch ’17 performing their batch piece, Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, at Voyage D’espoir (2017).

In your one-and-a-half years of being in Piano Ensemble, be prepared to have lots of fun practising, performing, and most importantly, bonding together with your like-minded CCA mates. Fret not if you’re not an outstanding pianist, for what’s more important is your willingness to collaborate with others with the aim of making music which sounds good –  not individually, but together. Besides, there are many other skills that are valuable to Piano Ensemble, such as arranging, scriptwriting, designing, or videography, as we would require these skills when preparing for our annual concert.

Speaking of which, we hold a concert every year in late April. Each year’s concert has a unique and innovative theme, and we perform a wide variety of pieces, ranging from classical works to arrangements of pop songs and musical medleys by our very own members, so there’ll always be something for everyone! You may find the Press review for our most recent concert, titled “Voyage D’espoir”, here.

Besides our concert, we also take part in Vivace, the pianistic equivalent of the SYF. This occurs every year in July. In 2017, we clinched the individual 1st placing, as well as two Silver awards.

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RIPE at Vivace ’17 Finals.

However, we don’t just perform for concerts and competitions, but for the community as well. At the end of each year, we hold a performance at NUH, where we perform pieces that we have learnt and arranged. Also, after our recent concert, we had weekly volunteering sessions at Ang Mo Kio Thye Hwa Kwan Hospital, where we interacted with the elderly and performed old songs for them.

Of course, the experiences we create aren’t just about making music, but also about who we make the music with! In March, we have our annual CCA camp, where the seniors organise activities to let the juniors bond within their batch, and with their seniors too!

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RIPE ’17 and ’18 during our annual CCA camp.

As for our usual CCA sessions, they typically consist of general meetings, where we plan for the abovementioned annual activities, and coaching sessions by seniors or our experienced coach, Ms Yeong. But don’t worry, because amidst all these, there’ll be lots of laughter and occasional jamming sessions as well! These session are on Tuesdays, from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm, but practice sessions within your own duet or quartet takes place outside these timings, at your own convenience.

Interested in joining our RIPE family? Our auditions will consist of three segments – a performance, sight-reading exercise, and a short interview. As mentioned earlier, although prior experience (preferably at least ABRSM Grade 5 Practical) of playing the piano is required of our members, what’s more important is your willingness to work with others, improve your abilities, and try out new experiences. If you enjoy performing with others, or simply love arranging, then RIPE is the place for you! Hopefully this article has given you an insight into life in RIPE, and we hope to see you at our auditions!

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