By Emil Tay (18A01B), Secretary
If you’ve ever dropped by the Yusof Ishak Block in the far-flung lands of RI’s Year 1-4 campus on weekdays (and some weekends), you might have heard the distant strains of music floating by (or depending on who’s present, a not-so-distant trumpet fanfare). That would be where the members of the Raffles Symphonic Band (RSB) gather to share in what unites us: a love for music.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, for 4½ and 3 hours respectively, all of us make the hike over to our band room, tucked away in this quiet corner of the school, for a few hours of time together, making notes on a page come to life under the direction of our conductor Mr Lim Yean Hwee.
While we also have arranged sectionals with professional music tutors, all specialists in their respective instruments, the bulk of our time spent at CCA is used on combined sessions with our conductor. Mr Lim is a seasoned educator who balances working to tease out the nuances of every piece we work on with his very one-of-a-kind jokes, often crafting lengthy comparisons and anecdotes to get his point across to us. Of course, we also have our teacher-in-charge, Mr Derek Lim, who often sits in on practices and joins in on an instrument once in awhile.
If you’re wondering what all this work is for, we typically have several events lined up each year, centred around our two main concerts, A Tempo in April/May and Bandemonium in December.
In our most recent one, A Tempo XXVI on 18th May 2017, we played pieces like highlights from the musicals Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera, as well as a classic piece of concert band literature, Children’s March: “Over the hills and far away” by Percy Grainger. As for Bandemonium, we typically have more light-hearted tunes as compared to the serious(er) style of our mid-year concert, and we’re always looking for Sec 4s to join us, as a prelude to RSB, perhaps.
We also have a number of other events to fill the downtime between concerts. To start off the year, we have band camp: where the Y6s and their new juniors (us then, and hopefully you) get to know each other.
We’re not limited to Singapore either: in March 2017, RSB had the privilege of playing host to a Japanese band from Meiji University Meiji High School and Junior High School, with a 3-day exchange program culminating in a combined concert at SOTA Concert Hall.
(Photograph by Band Fusion)
On that same theme, we also had a week-long exchange trip to Osaka, Japan, where we were able to experience Japanese culture and interact with local bands, namely those from Osaka Gakugei High School and Kyoto Meitoku High School.
We’ve also got our annual exchange, Tune-In, where we invite Sec 4s from all over the country to join us for some fun, games, and of course, music, as we introduce them to RSB and the people in it.
But that’s just what’s on paper. RSB is more than just a music CCA to us: it’s our second home. Every day, without fail, there’s always a small crowd in and around the band room doing self-practice, studying, or just taking a nap in our cosy corner (yes, it’s amazing). We do feel that’s what makes us special. We’re a community brought together by music, but there’s much more to us than that, and we strive to make everyone feel welcome, and feel at home. It’s definitely a tiring experience, but also a rewarding one: being a part of RSB has helped all of us develop and grow as music-makers, as leaders, and as people.
We’ll see you there.
And… practical matters: Auditions! They consist of
Do tell us what instruments you play and if you need to borrow them from us!