By Megan Lim Pei Xuan (22S03M), Chairperson, Lim Ker Chong (22S06P), Vice-Chairperson, Tan Sue Min (22S06A), Secretary
“Where words fail, music speaks.”
At Raffles Chamber Ensemble, this is something we live by. We strongly believe that music is not just meant to be pleasing to the ears, but also an avenue for us to communicate and connect with one another. Since its debut in 1986, Chamber Ensemble has allowed for many musical talents to blossom under its guidance. Under the baton of our music director, Ms Marietta Ku, a distinguished violinist-violist with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), coupled with the unwavering support of our teachers-in-charge, Ms Tang Mui Kee and Ms Wee Seok Hui, we have maintained an untarnished Distinction record at the biennial SYF Central Judging. Just earlier this year, Chamber participated in SYF, making our school proud by bagging yet another distinction, which was only possible through the hard work and dedication of our members and instructors.
Tucked away at the back of the Indoor Sports Hall, the humble Chamber room is definitely cosy enough for our close-knit family of budding musicians. In fact, many fellow Rafflesians do not know of the existence of the Chamber room. We are occasionally amused by the sight of passers-by stopping mid-track during our Wednesday morning practices from 7.45 to 10.45 am, discombobulated by the mystifying music and chatter coming from the depths of the ISH.
While Covid-19 has cost us some opportunities for face-to-face rehearsals and live performances, we certainly did not let that stop us from sharing our passion for music-making with each other. We have since shifted to holding weekly sessions online. Online CCA sessions truly are a sight to behold: the groggy faces of those who just woke up, or those who had just some last minute practicing. Though it may take some sacrifices (our CCA does start a teensy bit early), they are necessary for our growth. When we listen back to the numerous retakes of the pieces we painstakingly perfected together, they are worth it.
Despite hosting our sessions online, members are expected to put in their due effort towards upholding our ensemble’s standards. One need not be the most skilled performer to join us—a strong technical foundation and background would be enough. In Chamber, what we value far more than technical abilities are the opportunities for members to form everlasting friendships with your fellow CCA mates through the various moments we spend together as a CCA, whether it be tough rehearsals nearing major performances where we encourage each other to persevere on; or becoming victims of Ms Ku’s occasional snarky comments about our intonation slips or our uncoordinated bow strokes. All in all, one would find that rehearsals are less of a burdensome duty than a welcome respite from the everyday stresses of school.
Another reason why all of us cherish the CCA so much might be due to the unique and invaluable opportunities the CCA provides for us (on top of the snacks that Ms Ku brings for us every week). What sets Chamber apart from your typical school ensemble is that on top of playing together as one, we also break into smaller chamber groups. This provides our members a novel and fresh perspective to music-making. Members have the freedom to choose their own repertoire and explore different genres of music, shaping us into more well-rounded musicians.
One might notice that our CCA currently hosts a relatively small number of members. However, that is precisely what makes the bonds formed between us stronger than ever and just as genuine as before. Whatever the group size, Chamber will always be welcoming you with open arms, so why not give our auditions a go?
*Cover image taken by Raffles Photographic Society. Taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.