CCA Previews ’19: Chamber Ensemble

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By Fabrianne Effendi (19S06M), Chairperson, and Wee Jia Tong Amanda (19S06B), Vice-Chairperson

Photographs courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society

Stuck behind a music stand, staring into music written by composers hundreds of years ago? Is that the life of a Chamber musician? That can’t be! Our enthusiastic members come together every Wednesday from 2.30pm to 6.30pm for rehearsals in our cozy Chamber room. A typical practice session will involve 2 hours of Chamber group playing, followed by 2 hours of Combined! It is honestly an honour and pleasure to make music with other passionate and talented musicians, as well as a good time to break away from the academic stress from tutorials, upcoming tests and exams – we kill two birds with one stone!

Our members look forward to rehearsals because of the cordial and candid atmosphere, where we often share our experiences and jokes – you really can’t miss the good viola jokes here! Here’s one: Why don’t violists play hide and seek? Because nobody would look for them. Here’s another one: What’s the difference between a viola and an onion? No one cries when you cut up a viola. Aww…

Our batch!

Chamber isn’t huge – not like the size you would expect of a secondary school string orchestra; we have 20 over musicians on average during our annual concert. So Chamber really is a snug CCA, like a close-knitted family. Every year, we take in slightly more than 10 passionate musicians who wish to join or continue playing in an ensemble. Fret not if you have no experience playing in an ensemble, because your fun and gregarious seniors will guide you along the way, while your batchmates can share their experiences and offer you some tips.

And of course, how can we forget our dedicated and quirky conductor, Ms Marietta Ku, who brightens up our practice sessions with her funny (and sometimes undecipherable) jokes and anecdotes! Also, Chamber is not complete without our supportive teachers-in-charge, Mrs Er Mui Kee and Ms Avadhani!

Featuring our conductor: Ms Marietta Ku

What’s interesting about Chamber is that we do not only play together as one; we also break into smaller groups of typically 3 to 5 people. These small chamber groups allow our members to better bond with one another as well as experience a different kind of music-making. Arnold Steinhardt, former first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet, once said that a quartet is like having a marriage between 4 people – how intriguing! Would you want to become a part of a quartet too?

Our members performing the 1st movement of Beethoven’s String Trio in E-flat major
Our members performing the 4th movement of Nielsen’s String Quintet

We have various performance opportunities for members to share the joy of music with others. Last May, we had our annual Chamber concert – Sombre ‘18, playing pieces ranging from Rachmaninoff’s String Quartet No. 1 to Joe Hisaishi’s View of Silence. Some may reckon that Chamber is full of boring and serious people who only play classical pieces. Don’t worry, as we do indulge in a variety of fun and interesting music from other genres as well! We arrange our own medleys ranging from musicals to movie soundtracks to pop music, and our members are free to suggest music they want to play.

Our members performing a movie medley featuring movies like Indiana Jones and Harry Potter!

Chamber certainly loves to give back to the community, participating in several CIP performances such as at Renci and Tan Tock Seng Hospital each year.

Performing at Renci Hospital, and featuring our new cellist, Ms Ku!

If you fear that Chamber sessions is all about practice, don’t worry! Our tiny CCA can’t miss out on bonding sessions together, where we watch masterclasses and concerts; last August, we spent a CCA session watching the Juilliard Quartet Masterclass at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. So fret not as members can anticipate a fun and event-filled 2019!


What are you waiting for? We offer friends, fun, great music and opportunities. Come join us! We hope to see you at our auditions :)

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