Vocal Delights 2022: Déjà Vu

Reading Time: 7 minutes

By Anamika Ragu (23A01A) and Johnathan Lim (23S03M)

Photos courtesy of Lim Yuan Ren (22S03P)

On the second Sunday of December, Raffles Chorale gave us two hours of incredible musical delights to anticipate, which have become two  hours of memorable performance we wish we could relive again.

Being Raffles Chorale’s first live comeback since 2019, dozens of Rafflesians, friends, and families of performers eagerly streamed into LT2 to get a glimpse of what they’d missed for the last three years.

“A delightful melody of chorale music across different genres” 

Rachael Chua, an audience member

In fact, this year’s theme, “Déjà Vu”, perfectly encapsulates this sentiment of figuratively “turning back time to experience the strange familiarity of live concerts” as introduced by emcees Jeremy Chua & Nina Zhou.

But the fun doesn’t end there! The night of warm melodies was only enhanced by the knowledge that audience members were also present to support a good cause. Raffles Chorale will be donating all proceeds from the concert to Habitat for Humanity, their partner organisation to help eradicate poverty and provide housing worldwide, as they have done consistently since 2016. 

It is no surprise that such a feat was months in the making: since June of 2022, our Choralers had been hard at work, staying back almost daily since October, to give the audience their very best on D-Day.

Chairperson Nandhini Elangovan (23S06J) recounted the hectic work days and the limited time the chorus had to get used to their performance venue. “We really had to make the most of the time we had … to make sure we can bring our performances up to concert standard.” 

On the day itself, Raffles Chorale had adapted their usual classical repertoire to a more up-to-date one, wowing the audience with familiar tunes, unconventional interpretations, and thrilling experimentation with other mediums of performance.

A sneak peek of what is to come!

Moreover, the sights crafted by Chorale only added to the experience. From adorable flower tributes to song pop quizzes, the audience was given no shortage of brilliant scenes to keep them on the edge of their seats.

Bubbles!

A Tour of Nostalgia

Reminiscent of the concert’s theme, the group Zero Direction’s performance was sprinkled with familiar tunes that enraptured the audience. From screams of “leave America” in “As it Was” to muted singalongs of Taylor Swift’s hit songs, audiences were brought on a journey through the billboards over the years. Medleys included old hit songs like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” dating back to the 60s and “Rasputin” from the 70s.

Our Choralers singing their hearts out. Left: Gong Meng Lian (23A01E) Right: Lim Tze You (23S06A)

As Christmas crept around the corner, who could forget about Christmas Carols?

In homely-looking dinner outfits, our Choralers served up a feast of heavenly vocal runs and riveting pace-changes in “All I want for Christmas is you”, a harsh reprimand for being naughty in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and a vibrant performance of “Jingle Bell Rock” (with a side of hat-throwing).

The Mistletoes at Vocal Delights

Continental Expedition

Beyond time, Raffles Chorale demonstrated their travelling prowess across regions with medleys of melodies from Japan to China.

Introduced in Japanese by the emcees, out came Waku Waku, Chorale’s Japanese Pop group. Their skilful harmonisation of “Yoru Ni Kakeru” and an “Eve” medley evoked sparks of recognition from anime-lovers in the crowd.

Arriving in China, we were greeted by students in a school setting, professing their love for 冰淇淋 (ice cream)—a TikTok trend—before swiftly transitioning to a soothing and nostalgic acapella of 那些年的小幸运 (A Little Happiness In Those Bygone Years). The  smoothly blended medley of the two iconic Chinese movie songs was dashed with playful paper-throwing and note-passing.

The curtain closed once again before opening to reveal an effervescent Chinese pop medley. Armed with ‘meme’ sunglasses, the performers put up  a dynamic performance, with light-hearted songs such as “Super Idol” and captivating rap sequences in 飘向北方 (Stranger in the North) leaving audiences star-struck.

10/10!’ in Vocal Delights

In stark contrast to the generally light performances, Fringe, a ‘legacy group’ carried through many batches, performed unrestrainedly classical renditions of “Who Shall Have My Lady Fair” and “And So It Goes”. Even audience members uninitiated to classical music found their enchanting baritones and engaging answer-and-reply sequences fascinating.

Fringe in Vocal Delights

Innovation that Excites!

True to K-Pop superstardom, the Year 6s performed their medley while dancing, showing off their impressive vocal control and synchrony. Even more impressively, we later found that this choreography was adapted by the group themselves to “bring something new and exciting to the audience”.

“Some of us also wanted to combine our experience in singing and dancing and fulfil our secret K-Pop idol dreams. I personally hope future batches can continue this kind of performance—it’ll be my batch’s legacy.”

Chia Si Nuo Deborah, 22S06J

Indeed, such a performance has definitely raised the bar for future generations to come.

The Y6’s K-Pop medley choreography at Vocal Delights.

Complete with mock tug-of-war, simultaneous salutes, and a climactic solo with a beat slow-down aided by a beatboxer that effectively sent goosebumps flaring throughout the lecture theatre, the Y6s’ performance was one to remember.

Speaking of pushing the envelope, what immediately comes to mind next is another audience-favourite, PUNCH

Punch!

True to tradition, the Y6 and Y5 Choralers took the audience through a splendid repertoire comedically woven into a punchy skit. 

Following a murder mystery involving two questionably British detectives from the Marymount Police Force and three colourful characters for suspects, the audience was kept on their toes as the plot unravelled. 

Beyond their talents in acting, the group dazzled the audience with their vocal skill and amusing punchlines. After the victim had used Monica Cheng’s drawing of a butterfly beyond its intended purpose, she cried out, “My butterfly became his butt-two-ply!” 

“[The joke] shall now be a major accomplishment of mine. I’ll consider framing it up on a bedroom wall.”

Jeremy Chua Jun Jie (23S06S), who played Detective Sir Humphrey, on Monica Cheng’s punchline

However, Frame Perfect was arguably  the most experimental group of the night, vocalising video game theme music.

As the emcees introduced the group, they were interrupted by Mario (played by Ng Kang Wei Jason, 23S03G) exclaiming, “MAMMA MIA IT’S A ME, A MARIOOOOO!”. The audience broke out in snickers and quiet murmuring as they anticipated what was to come.

“At least on a personal level, Undertale, Super Smash Bros. and their communities were something many of us in the group grew up with and an integral part of our own childhoods.”

Edwin Wikarta (23S06M)

Inspired by childhood nostalgia, our Choralers put on a wonderfully evocative performance of video game theme songs, bringing audiences back to the good old days of gaming. 

Using screensaver backgrounds, sonic-ally stunning harmonies and rhythmic bobbing, the performers managed to transform the stage into the computer screen of our childhoods.

Frame Perfect in Vocal Delights

It is not easy to smoothly vocalise sounds from background music, as we found out from Tze You, who created the arrangements for Megalovania. The Choraler had to refer to online arrangements and apply what the Chorale seniors had taught the batch to “translate the songs into something singable for four parts”.

Finale

After PUNCH came the dreaded finale, as audience members were more than reluctant to see the night to a close. The whole batch of nearly 30 Choralers came together to sing chilling renditions of “Baba Yetu” and “Cikala Le Pong Pong”, conducted by their very own Joel Chik Yan Xiang (22S06A).

Vocal Delights 2023 Finale

Just as the emcees came forward to thank their teachers-in-charge and conductor, Mr Toh Ban Sheng, a member of the audience rallied the crowd to demand an encore. Shouts for more grew within the LT until Joel nodded in concession and turned to lead the Y5 batch through “The Road Home”.

With a strong bass and buttery-smooth blending, the song was a wonderful way to end the night. As some lingered with bouquets in hand to congratulate their friends, others streamed out of the Lecture Theatre in contentment, knowing that each time they passed LT2’s imposing sign, they’d feel the best kind of Déjà Vu.

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