CCA Previews ’19: Chinese Orchestra

By RJCO Committee ’18 – ’19

Bar 420. Remember to crescendo. The conductor prepares the final reprisal to the famous zhongruan concerto: Jie Mei Dao. Your mind is full, the swell of the final note fills the hall, and before you know it: the cascade of applause from below. Calls for “encore!” resonates with the rush of euphoria in your heart. We did it!

Intrigued by the thrill of performance? Read on to find out more!

Chinese Orchestra, shaped by 6,000 years of musical heritage, consists of five main sections:

  • 弹拨 (tanbo – plucked strings)
  • 弦乐 (xianyue – bowed strings)
  • 吹管 (chuiguan – winds)
  • 打击 (daji – percussion)
  • 低音 (cello-bass)

Our practice sessions are usually twice a week, with 3 practices on weeks closer to competitions or concerts. Our usual CCA timings are: Monday 5:30pm – 8:15pm (Sectionals), and Tuesday 5:30pm – 7:30pm (Combined). We have 2 types of practices: sectionals and combined. Sectionals are sessions where similar instruments practise together under the guidance of our 12 sectional instructors. RJCO is very privileged to offer tutelage of many professional instructors, each leading in their respective fields. Combined sessions are when the entire orchestra come together after having practised their individual parts during sectionals. Combined sessions are led by our charismatic conductor, Mr. Yang Jiwei, who is sure to fill the session with banter and laughter.

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RJCO performing a combined orchestral piece at “Cascade”.

Under Mr Yang’s baton, RJCO has achieved stellar results in the biennial Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation, more recently clinching distinction in 2017. In 2018, we were also able to put up a wonderful concert, “Cascade“, which consisted of various solo performances, section ensemble items as well as full orchestra performances. As the main performance of the year, our hard work along the journey culminated on this memorable night.

RJCO alternates between a concert year and an SYF year, and 2019 is our SYF year. Hence, in addition to SYF next year, school events like Open House and Chinese New Year as well as self-initiated VIA projects enable members to extend their repertoire of pieces even further, giving us more chances to perform together as a CCA.

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RJCO’s VIA performance @ Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities

Stepping into the RJCO room on a Tuesday afternoon, one will be greeted by the sight of familiar faces working on assignments, playing cards (UNO only of course) or simply joking around. As practice starts, another evening of music-making begins, and soon you’ll find yourself immersed in the harmonies created when the instruments in the orchestra all combine their strengths – the huqin and western strings, with their smooth and complementary textures, percussion with their hard-striking tempo, chuiguan (wind instruments) with their bright melodies, and tanbo (plucked strings) with their confident accompaniments. Of course, words are never adequate when it comes to describing the experience of music; one must be there to feel it.

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Orchestra members bonding before the start of combined practice

Furthermore, RJCO is not just about the music, but also the family of like-minded individuals that we take comfort in. It is a respite from relentless lessons in school; it is banter with our batchmates; it is messing around trying to learn each other’s instruments before combined and during breaks; it is wincing at a fellow member’s particularly challenging scores and sympathising, “wah, good luck”. Though everyone has different experiences, one thing’s for sure: RJCO is a place of good music, comradeship, where we all strive to better ourselves with the support of those around us.

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Late dinner after a combined practice.

This family spirit also extends beyond CCA hours – members frequently grab a meal together before or after practices, which we affectionately coin as “early” or “late dinner”. The different sections also organise outings among themselves, where we simply have fun with our friends. Furthermore, our annual March Chalet is an unbroken tradition of having the best times together during the March holidays, where incoming junior members bond together with their seniors through enjoyable section lunches, station games, and even a horror escape room!

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Members playing “Protect the egg” during our annual March Chalet!

We would like to emphasise the openness of the RJCO family: whether or not you have a music background, all of you are welcome to come for our January/February CCA trials. You can also visit our CCA booth at Open House 2019 to talk to a senior and find out more!

As Confucius once said, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”  Regardless of whether you join us, we hope that you find a CCA that recharges you, which is what RJCO does for all of us :)

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