By Nicole Chong (22S03A), Chairperson, Guo Yuxin (22S03O), Vice-Chairperson, Yuan Haoer (22S03O), Secretary, Qian Changyi (22S03N), Music Director, Daniel Seah (22S07B), Concertmaster
“Piano ensemble” — two words that, upon first glance, do not seem to be especially compatible. It is well known that the piano is a popular solo instrument, so why ensemble playing, when solo playing is already so gratifying? Playing with others is an enchanting experience that cannot be described with mere words — it is the feeling of you and your fellow performers entering a singular consciousness, getting lost in seas of melodies, countermelodies and textures, and elevating the depth of the piano to another level that one cannot hope to reach alone.
Where and when?
The magic happens in the MEP room where our CCA sessions are held. A cosy, air-conditioned practice space hidden away in a secluded corner of the school, the MEP room houses 2 large grand pianos in the main room and 2 smaller practice rooms within. This is where we camp out on CCA days. Whether it be through the after-school chamber practices with your partner(s), coaching sessions with our lovely instructor Ms Yeong Lan-Ing, or weekly ‘touch-base sessions’ every Wednesday from 11am-12pm where we gather together as a batch, you will surely find a home here in this comfortable space.
What exactly do we do?
For the most part, we are given the freedom to explore the vast range of chamber repertoire out there and select any one to play. In small groups of 2-4 players, we practise and learn together in small, intimate settings, allowing us to get to know each other on a deeper, more personal level.
What are the highlights of our CCA?
Due to Covid-19, the nature of CCA activities has shifted slightly. Our main event — a concert that usually takes place in May — will now have to take the form of a digital production. Just like a physical concert, the process is full of opportunities for creativity and bonding; whether it be composing a batch piece together, tinkering with sets, lighting or costumes, editing the footage or ultimately, allowing months of effort to culminate into a stunning and enrapturing performance.
Apart from major productions, we have other projects as well — YouTube productions. There are 3 main stages in creating a production.
The first — arranging the piece. Enjoy composing or arranging? There will be many exciting opportunities for you to arrange or compose your own songs for various combinations of instruments and collaborate with CCA mates. Once the recordings are made, they are stitched up into videos (nudges video editing enthusiasts) that are uploaded on our YouTube and Instagram pages pianogang and @ri_pianoensemble respectively. See an example of our CCA’s cover of 2021’s NDP song – The Road Ahead. (https://www.instagram.com/p/CTAWubfJuHI/)
(Although it does involve some work, this process is ultimately extremely fun and meaningful. What better way is there to bond with CCA mates than to spend whole afternoons in the MEP room working on productions together?)
What about the week-to-week activities?
When we are not preparing for a major event or production, we have quite a lot of freedom to plan our weekly activities. We have mini-presentations and sight reading sessions guided by Ms Yeong to explore a variety of music-related topics, as well as ‘mini-concerts’ where members can overcome performance anxiety and get comfortable with sharing their music with others in a safe environment.
What is the environment like?
RIPE is home to like-minded individuals who have a genuine love for the piano and for music. It is a relatively small and close-knit CCA — batch ‘22 has 14 members — hence we have the opportunity to forge personal connections and explore the world of music together. Feel free to unleash your inner music geek — nerd out and share your classical music gems and spotify mixes!
We strongly believe in chartering our music journey together as one community, and that everyone’s voice should be heard. Every member is encouraged to share their ideas, work together, and immerse themselves in the realm of music as we deepen our understanding and passion for music together.
If any of this has piqued your interest, please do not hesitate to come for Piano Ensemble auditions! You do not need any shining accolades or qualifications — if you love playing the piano just as much as we do, you’ll fit right in at Piano Ensemble!
*Pictures taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.