By Jonathan Wan (22S06E), Chairperson
Raffles Chorale is a mix of singers from diverse backgrounds, be it the passionate chorister or occasional bathroom singer. Wander near LT1, and you might hear singing voices! (Don’t worry, it’s not a resident ghost, it’s just us singing) Whether you’ve spent the last decade of your life singing in a choir, or only started thinking about it since the start of this preview, we invite one and all to try singing with us!
Typically, Chorale practises every Wednesday morning (Wednesdays are gap days with no formal lessons) and Friday afternoon after school in the school’s lecture theatre. Training sessions are divided into sectionals then combined, where the choral sections—Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass—meet to make music together! As a choir, we explore a wide range of musical works—from the sacred to the romantic, church to the classical and baroque to the contemporary—exploring different languages and cultures.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has affected us in more ways than one—most notably, we are unable to meet up for physical practices sometimes. But we’ve made the best of our situation, meeting online to practice or to simply hang out and discuss upcoming events. While singing individually to avoid lag is intimidating at first, singing in a non-judgemental, safe environment has definitely helped us become better, more confident singers!
When we still get to meet up though, eating out together after every practice is an ingrained tradition and chatting with each other late into the night can quickly become everyone’s highlight of the week. (Yes, a tradition! This isn’t just a first-semester thing!) In choir, teamwork is everything and that means we really encourage bonding and camaraderie within our CCA. If you join us, you’ll also find your own place in our community.
Raffles Chorale has a long-standing history of endeavouring towards musical excellence, as shown by our continuous achievement of the Distinction award in the biennial Singapore Youth Festival, most recently in 2021, as well as obtaining the Gold Award in the 12th International Choral Festival Orientale Concentus in 2018.
Chorale also holds its student-driven, annual charity concert, ‘Vocal Delights’, at the end of the year, where we get to explore acapella pop music. As a member of Chorale, you can look forward to learning how to create acapella arrangements, beatbox to your favourite tunes, solo in front of an audience and even act out your own script! More than just performances, these experiences not only enable us to grow into holistic singers, but also give us a chance to make wonderful memories with each other.
While you might think singing is relatively easy, as our conductor Mr Toh Ban Sheng always says, “There is a difference between making noise and making music.” Striving for musical excellence—creating those indescribably magical musical moments—is what Chorale is all about and a large part of achieving this high standard in music is proper technique. This is why Mr Toh places huge emphasis on teaching us how to perfect our singing technique. (Fun fact! He used to be a physics teacher, and teaches us the science behind good singing technique!)
While this isn’t easy, especially with how abstract it can be sometimes, with the help and support of fellow Chorale members, many of us, including those without prior singing experience, have been able to successfully improve our technique. Training can be intensive, especially in the lead-up to concerts, with many of us squeezing in the time amidst our hectic schedules for unofficial practices—but we always work through it together, so don’t worry, no member will be left behind! Plus, the feeling of achieving great music with the people around you after putting in so much effort is definitely worth it all.
If you are willing to commit yourself to the art of music-making alongside passionate individuals, if you are looking forward to being a part of an inclusive, supportive community, and if you hope to embark on a journey of self-discovery—come join us in Raffles Chorale, where there is no such beauty as where you belong.
*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.