By Anamika Ragu (23A01A), Jason Sutio (22S06U), and Loh Zhao Hong (23S03A).
Photos courtesy of Huang Xihao (23S06S) from Raffles Photographic Society.
This concert, which was highly anticipated by a full house of attendees, was preceded by the gradual hushing of an otherwise highly active audience awaiting the performance with bated breath. The curtains swept apart to reveal a soft wash of vivid colours, strikingly reminiscent of a sunset. The lecture theatre hung in stillness as all eyes fixed onto the choristers on stage. With a flourish of a hand, the concert began.
The theme ‘Across The Horizon’ paid homage to the reconciliation of the past and the future by inviting the audience to both celebrate old memories and make new ones through the concert. The set list reflected this duality, employing classical and modern pieces to represent unity from a meeting of differences.
For Chorale, the concert was much more than a performance. “This concert was the last time our two batches were able to perform as one choir,” said the chairperson of Raffles Chorale, Nandhini Elangovan (23S06J). “The theme thus represented both ends and beginnings.”
The concert also signified the reopening of big group performances following the revision of safe management guidelines. Due to the sudden news, the choir barely had 4 weeks to plan and prepare for the concert.
However, they were hardly unprepared. “We run through the songs and the minor details again and again until we perfect it,” explained Lim Tze You (23S06A).
The concert started with ‘O Lux beata Trinitas’ by Andrej Makor and ‘Les Fleurs Et Les Arbres’ by Camille Saint Saens. The choir’s expertise shone in their blending that created a resonant, unified sound. Some performers tapped their feet and waved their hands in sync with the conductor, Mr Toh Ban Sheng, to count the rhythm.
Then, in a sudden twist, the choir sang Viva la Vida by Coldplay. Catherine Natasya Subroto (22S06R) shared that the choir wanted a diverse set of pieces to train themselves in singing different genres of songs.
This was followed by an enchanting rendition of “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus. This deceivingly simple piece was beautifully layered with seamless harmonies. Needless to say, it was a reaffirmation of the song’s status as Chorale’s signature piece.
They ended off their repertoire with one of the most popular Disney songs: ‘Circle of Life’ by Elton John, arranged by Mr Toh himself. As the first notes resonated within the dim space, it brought to life the image of the vibrant and lush Pride Lands.
The soloist spared no effort in the iconic opening lines in Zulu. The blend of vocals and the rhythm of the djembe made for an evocative and mesmerising performance. The audience was enthralled as the soprano reached an almost-angelic high note.
The performers collectively raised their hands on that final note, uplifting all those present with them as the piece drew to a close. The LT was filled with a momentary silence, before the audience erupted in thunderous applause as the conductor gestured for each section to bow accordingly.
Though the concert was carried out marvellously, the weeks preceding it had come with their own set of difficulties. “We didn’t have time to start learning a new song, so we took the concert as an opportunity to perform the songs we’ve been learning since the start of the year,” admitted Peter Hadi Wijaya (22S06O).
He recounted how biweekly rehearsals were lengthened from 3 hours to 3.5-4 hours each, and some of the performers practised outside those timings as well. Everyone felt pressured to deliver a quality performance, with some even falling ill and having to recuperate quickly.
Notwithstanding these challenges, Raffles Chorale still managed to deliver an outstanding performance that left the audience wanting more.
As the CCA looked to those before them and bowed, they were met with shouts of “Encore! Encore!”. At this, Mr Toh smiled indulgently, saying, “We’ll do one more,” eliciting overjoyed cheers before turning back to the performers.
And so, Raffles Chorale graced their entirely enraptured listeners with their last and most unexpected piece — the Institution Anthem, the first few lines of which were met with surprised laughter that settled into a comfortable silence.
Finally, the concert drew to a close, with lights flooding the LT once more and coaxing audience members back to a far less musical reality. Friends ran down to the stage, flowers in hand, to congratulate and take photos with the performers.
“I’m extremely grateful for the experience of singing with a group of very talented and passionate singers,” said Catherine as she reflected on her last physical performance with Raffles Chorale. “I’m very proud to have been able to be a part of amazing choristers and share this unforgettable moment together.”
For the Y5 choristers, this was a major milestone, the concert being their first live performance. Safe to say, all of Raffles Chorale had offered the audience an unforgettable experience through their stellar performance.
“Having it all end was liberating, and a milestone for many of us.”Nandhini Elangovan, Chairperson of Raffles Chorale