By Truong Dam Linh Giang (20S03G), Chairperson, Eyan Goh (20S03H), Vice-Chairperson, Shanna Ng (20S03I), and Yang Wanshen (20S03Q)
Not many have heard of guitar ensembles in Singapore, much less a Niibori guitar ensemble. At Raffles Institution (Year 5-6) Guitar Ensemble (RJGE), we believe that what sets us apart brings us together. As one of the only full-fledged Niibori guitar ensembles at the JC level in Singapore, we explore many different genres of music to bring out the full myriad of melodies string-plucking can produce. Be it fast and spicy flamenco pieces, or emotion-laden contemporary Japanese pieces, our ensemble aspires to draw out all of the colours hidden beneath the black markings on the white sheet music.
Our ensemble consists of 45 guitarists lead under the baton of our instructor Mr Eugene Lee. In 2017, the ensemble achieved the coveted Certificate of Distinction during the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) Arts Presentation, making us one of only 6 ensembles awarded the certificate out of the 16 performing schools. In 2019, we juggled an SYF showcase and an internal school performance (Nami, meaning waves in Japanese) to a crowd of over 200 students. 2020 will see us presenting a bigger and better concert, showcasing the vast potential of the classical guitar, and we would love for you to be there for the ride with us!
In RJGE, we believe in the spirit of enterprise and self-initiative. Opportunity for leadership is present at virtually every corner you turn. As an ensemble, we’ve planned for various VIA and performance opportunities to give back to our community and showcase our hard work. Through these opportunities, we hope to inculcate a sense of teamwork and cooperation among our members.
At our very core, we believe in building a tight-knit community that supports one another not only through our music, but also our care and concern for one another. We aspire for RJGE to be a home one can go to after a long and arduous day of academic stress, filled with supportive friends for you to confide in whenever you falter.
Our practice sessions are held twice a week, on Mondays (from 4.30pm to 6.30pm) and on Wednesdays (from 2.30pm to 4.30pm). However, as we get closer to concerts and showcases, our Wednesday practice sessions will be extended to 5pm. During practices, our time is split between practising in our respective sections and combining as a whole ensemble. Sectional practice helps us to drill our skills and gives us a chance to interact with our fellow sectionmates, while ensemble playing enables us to blend our unique sounds together to create harmonious music. Apart from playing as a whole ensemble, we also perform in small groups, called mini-ensembles! These mini-ensembles allow musicians to obtain even more creative freedom and autonomy to choose what pieces and genres they wish to showcase. Some even go out of their way to arrange their own pieces!
Now, you may wonder—does this not mean I’ll need prior music (specifically guitar) experience? No! We accept all willing and aspiring musicians regardless of musical background. For that matter, the majority of our members came from little to no music background at all. We believe that as long as you have the will and the right attitude to learn, you can achieve just about anything!
With only about one and a half years with our CCA, we believe that it is of utmost importance to make full use of the limited time that we have. Our guitarists strive towards excellence—honing our playing skills, forming a tightly-knit community, giving back to society, you name it all. We hope that you, too, can join us on this journey to carry on the legacy of RJGE!