By Azzahra Osman (22S03P), Faith Ho (22A01A), Keiran Koh (22S06M), Mei Feifei (22A13A)
Raffles Chorale has lit the way for future online concerts with their 2021 batch concert (affectionately named Vocal Delights) that screened on 18 December 2021.
The online concert was a paid event, with 100% of the proceeds going to Habitat For Humanity, a charity in Singapore. Recently, Chorale has released the full concert and the individual music videos on Youtube.
Raffles Chorale, batch of 2022.
The theme for the concert was ‘Aurora: Melody on Canvas’. “This theme was inspired by one of the wonders of nature, aurora borealis—by its breathtaking displays of wondrous colour and beauty. It’s like the voices of Chorale, of many different shades and colours, but can come together to form a wonderful, harmonious spectacle,” wrote Chorale.
And a spectacle it was indeed! The Chorale batch’s multitude of talents (singing, acting, dancing… you name it, they’ve got it) created a gripping performance that enchanted its audience from start to finish.
(Audience member Cayden Ong (22A13A) was so overwhelmed by the performance that he could only muster “OMG OMG” when we asked him for his thoughts on Vocal Delights 2021.)
DJ, Drop the Beat!
Mostly relying on a cappella vocals, Chorale’s concert was a departure from the traditional sombreness that we have come to associate with a choir. Instead, they performed an extensive set of renditions of popular tunes that were adapted to better showcase their singing talents. Chorale’s team of beatboxers and singers even provided the necessary back-up for their soloists.
Jonathan Tan (22S06D), the arranger for “Permission to Dance” and “Waves”, shared that the rearrangement process was analogous to solving a puzzle. Using Musescore, he pieced together the song’s melody and chords, the “rhythmic textures of the song, countermelodies, harmonisations and other details based on the actual song”.
Sounds tedious enough? Jonathan Tan also had to “check if [he] broke any classical music rules like having clashing notes” to ensure that the song would “sound fine when real voices sung it”. To finish it off, he added his own personal touches to the arrangement “by adding dynamics and creating new melodic lines to add more flavour.”
The masterful arrangements formed the ink that the Chorale batch applied to their canvas, creating beautifully moving pictures that were the music videos—the true delights of Vocal Delights 2021.
The World is Chorale’s Canvas
We especially appreciated the efforts to imbue humour into the music videos. Take the “Disney Medley” for example: random easter eggs like ‘unglams’ of the Chorale chairperson (left) and a tongue-in-cheek cut to a behind-the-scenes ‘fail’ moment (right) left us howling with laughter.
Disney Medley performed by W!LD CH!LD
There was even a Teddy cameo!
“Or asked the grinning wildcat why he grins.”
Humorous tidbits aside, the “Disney Medley” became a fast favourite. It started out with a mellowed version of Hakuna Mata, before seamlessly transitioning into other popular songs such as You’re Welcome, Reflection, and I See The Light. Chorale also showed off their vocal chops in Into the Unknown, complete with special effects.
Indeed, the visual element was immaculate—the members were almost indistinguishable from their Disney counterparts. The attention to detail was apparent, from the props to the costumes to the… innovative hair.
“For the Disney performances, it was much more work.” Jonathan Wan (22S06E) added. Costumes such as Ariel from the Little Mermaid were painstakingly crafted. With budget constraints, it was up to the resourcefulness and creativity of the Chorale members to replicate the outfits. Many of the wigs were cut from strips of paper and plastered on a hair cap, and even Ariel’s tail was made from a pool floatie.
Melodrama, Melodrama and Melodrama
Another one of our favourites was the two-part melodrama (“Love Song Medley” and “Waves”) that would not look out of place on a Channel 8 evening broadcast. The heart-wrenching love story of our two protagonists brought out many tears (from laughter or sadness is up to interpretation).
“Love Song Medley”’s MV left both the protagonist and us in stitches.
A similarly intense performance was “Radioactive” by PUNCH. The exhilarating and action-filled performance gave us goosebumps.
Girlboss Alethea and her subjects.
We were in awe of the charismatic Alethea Tan’s (22A01C) powerful stage presence. It is hard to believe that she was initially “shy” about having to put on a ‘girlboss’ persona, but eventually she “tried to shove it aside because […] we’re here to entertain people, right? The audience should come before [the performers’] dignity.”
Chorale also took the opportunity to show off their versatility with a sudden swing from the comical to the serious. “The Seal Lullaby” (performed by FRINGE) kept it minimalistic, presenting itself in traditional choir form to leave the harmonies to speak for themselves. Black & White’s “Song of Silence” was a spectacular display of vocal skill and the haunting vocals in PUNCH’s “Liability” lingered in our ears long after the livestream ended.
The protagonist, quite literally, in a dark place.
Isaac Ling’s (22S03D)’s moving rendition of Lorde’s “Liability” deeply touched the hearts of us viewers. His mellow vocals, similar to those of the singer Lorde herself, perfectly captured the elements of heartbreak in the song. “I’m a huge Lorde fan and I absolutely adore the Melodrama album—and I felt that Liability suited [my character’s] sadness, however superficial, quite well,” said Isaac.
The melancholic performance also resonated with the audience, who felt that it introduced something new to the programme. “It was a nice contrast to the other more upbeat songs in the concert,” Wong Kai Wen (22S03P) noted.
Other songs included an Orientation 2021 throwback with the song “Someone To You”. Interspersing the thoroughly enjoyable music videos were an exciting mix of narrative skits, and the hour-long concert had none of the lethargy that we had come to associate with online performances. Finally, the show ended on a high note with a stunning performance of “The Road Home”.
Behind The Scenes
Vocal Delights 2021 was a high-effort process—an understatement, really, since “[they] basically lived on campus for the earlier half of the December holiday,” according to Alethea.
Chorale members first brainstormed different themes—such as red for romance and yellow for upbeat songs—then chose which groups (e.g. PUNCH, FRINGE, W!LDCH!LD, etc.) they wanted to be part of. Afterwards, the arrangers in each group would write the singing parts, while the team collaborated as a whole to come up with the visual concept and scenes.
PUNCH, the geniuses behind many of the MVs, was a skit of its own. The five actors that starred in the MVs wrote the script over the course of the year, with help from previous batches of seniors.
“It’s definitely a lot harder to [entertain] through a video format because we don’t exactly have a captive audience, so we experimented […] with videography and scene cuts that deviate from tradition.” – Jonathan Wan (22S06E)
Jonathan Wan recalled that they experienced “a lot of stress organising and coordinating everyone’s plans and working with SMMs”, but it was very rewarding “to see my other members enjoying the process and finding a lot of meaning and family in the CCA.” Alethea echoed this sentiment, reflecting, “It’s cheesy to say but it was the feeling of teamwork […] the idea that everyone was contributing to this singular shared vision and enjoyed each other’s company while doing it.”
“One memorable incident was when we were in the midst of planning our concert and were really short on inspiration,” shared Alethea, “[and] suddenly, Justin (a batchmate) came to us with a bunch of chords for ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ scribbled on a piece of paper. When we sang it together it sounded amazing, even though it wasn’t polished.”
“The spontaneous nature of the entire thing was really touching for me—a nice reminder that the concert wasn’t supposed to be a chore but for us to really show our passion for music.” – Alethea Tan (22A01C)
Chorale has truly shown us the way: despite Covid-imposed constraints, they have gone above and beyond to prove that they are more than deserving of a standing ovation.
Performing Arts CCAs, beware—Chorale has set the bar high!