CCA Previews ’18: Raffles Guitar Ensemble

By Liu Enqi (19A01C)

Slash, more well-known as the lead guitarist of the popular American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, once said: “I had no aspirations to be a musician, but I picked up a guitar for two seconds and haven’t put it down since.” Such is the addictive nature of the guitar as a form of self-expression, an avenue to pour out one’s emotions – be it angst or joy.

In the Raffles Institution (Year 5-6) Guitar Ensemble (RJGE), we are a family of 30 or so like-minded individuals with a passion for creating music and producing harmonies. Led by conductor Mr Michael Gaspar, RJGE has quickly risen to prominence as one of the best full-fledged Niibori guitar ensembles in Singapore at the JC level. Throughout your time at RJGE, you will see another side of the dynamic guitar, one that will float you through lazy afternoons hearing the sounds of guitar strings. It will dispel your stereotype that the guitar is only for acclaimed pop stars who stand on stage and effortlessly strum melodies while singing their hearts out.

This year, RJGE played two melodious pieces for the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF): I Could Have Danced All Night from the musical My Fair Lady, and Concerto VI by Arcangelo Corelli. To our delight, we were one of the six schools who achieved distinction, out of the sixteen schools that performed. It was truly rewarding to see all the effort and hard work that we had put into perfecting our pieces come to fruition at last.

Next year, RJGE will be holding its biennial concert, blending a mix of sweet classical pieces and uplifting renditions of modern pop music. The incoming young grasshoppers next year will also definitely have an opportunity to bring the school glory in the 2019 SYF.

GTJ 16 RAFFLES INSTITUTION_28042017 (1).jpg
Raffles Guitar Ensemble in action.

Our practice sessions are held on Mondays from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, and on Wednesdays from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. A tightly-knit, supportive and bonded family, we have forged lasting friendships amidst the tuneful twang of guitar strings. We have never starved for entertainment, having multiple unofficial jam sessions before and after official CCA hours, and we have never literally starved either, one beloved tradition of the Guitar Ensemble being to pop by Chill minimart and get a waffle or other snacks during session breaks.  

Maybe there are inhibitions that are keeping you from joining RJGE – maybe you’re not confident about your amateur guitar-playing skills, or worried that you don’t have extensive knowledge of music theory to meet audition criteria, or that you’ll be outshone by your peers who are prospective guitarists as well. Fret not: auditions consist of just a simple interview to see if you would be a good fit for our CCA. No music background or guitar playing is required! All we are looking for is someone who has a passion for music and who is unafraid to take risks and try new things. Whether you are a guitar enthusiast, someone who enjoys creating music, or have absolutely no musical background, this CCA is for you all the same!

After all, once you have a guitar in your hands – once your fingers touch the strings – the world is yours. It lies at your fingertips. What are you waiting for?

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