Raffles Symphonic Band: SYF 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Alena Siaw (24S03O), Glenda Hua (24A01C) and Syaura Nashwa (24S03R)

Nervous chatter and the soft sounds of the tuba and euphonium filled the Year 1-4 atrium. Raffles Symphonic Band’s teacher-in-charge was more overwrought about their upcoming concert at the end of May. Though an aura of nervousness lingered in the air, it was clear from the determined faces of the band members that they were going to make this performance count.  

Even the arrival at the Singapore Conference Hall was a memorable one. Pulling up at the drop-off point, RSB was greeted by fellow band members from Jurong Pioneer Junior College. Doing their best to wave hello while carrying their heavy bass instruments, the two bands wished each other best of luck.

On the bus outside of the Singapore Conference Hall, Jurong Pioneer Junior College Symphonic Band and RSB exchanged wishes of good luck

Just minutes before their performance, the conductor stood in the centre of the tuning room, leading the rehearsal. “See you on stage,” he said to them. 

Inside the auditorium, the band members, dressed in smart black suits, stepped onto the stage gradually with their instruments in hand. The audience, despite being a  small crowd mainly consisting of family and friends, gave them a very enthusiastic welcome as applause echoed through the halls. Anticipation was high as this year marked the first time since 2019 that the band was able to perform at the Singapore Youth Festival in full swing, with all their members on one stage. 

They opened with the delightfully whimsical piece Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood) by local composer Bertram Wee. Two seconds into the performance, it was clear that Raffles Symphonic Band was here to play. The high key and lively staccato notes perfectly accentuated the playful mischievousness and childish curiosity of the piece, bringing a sense of  nostalgia to the audience. The band also used fans and rustling paper to cleverly create the setting of a bustling kopitiam. The images, when mashed into one beautiful concoction, § to resemble an Ah Guo artwork.

Here Comes The Durian King by Ah Guo

Subsequently, the fast, energetic rhythm slowly transitioned to a more subdued and solemn melody, filled with gentler and longer notes, almost symbolising the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to our childhoods. Finally, the whistling of “bird noises” closed their first piece. It felt as if we were watching a local sitcom, with a protagonist encountering a random and puzzling sequence of events while strolling in a neighbourhood.

Composer Bertram Wee described this piece as reflecting “some vague, collective spirit of childhood”, and it is safe to say that Raffles Symphonic Band managed to encapsulate that perfectly with their outstanding performance. 

Taken from Youtube, ‘SYF 2023 – Raffles Institution (RI/JC) – The Year of the Dragon’

The second piece, Year of the Dragon by Philip Sparke, had a completely different tone from the previous piece. The first movement kicked off with a powerful, rhythmic drum beat. The full force of the band came together in this piece, giving the listener an adrenaline rush. It almost felt like the soundtrack accompanying the climax of an action movie. 

However, the interlude took a gentler turn, with an elegant melody by various solo players in contrast to the previous dramatic toccata, before the piece sped up again towards the end With a crescendo and accelerando to the final climax, The Year of the Dragon concluded on a high note (literally). The audience’s fervent applause certainly matched the energy of this piece. “It was by far the best run of the piece ever played and managed to pull it off”, says Alicia Wong, the student conductor, proudly. 

At the end of the performance, the band members said it “felt relieving as all the stress and hard work [they] put in had “finally come to fruition.” Alicia’s description of the post-SYF mood was heartwarming: “Everyone was all smiles and giggles. We even sang our hearts out to Live While We’re Young on the bus journey back!”

The band huddling together to listen to the recording of their performance

After months of tireless rehearsing often till late at night, Raffles Symphonic Band put up a splendid performance and brought home a Certificate of Distinction at the 2023 Singapore Youth Festival. Loewe Lim, the assistant band major, reflected on their performance with a light-hearted statement: “We cheered at challenging sections that went successfully and laughed over small slip-ups and unexpected circumstances (such as the bass drum being deafening!).” RSB certainly showed great camaraderie and a positive mindset in their SYF journey. Well done, Raffles Symphonic Band!

Watch Raffles Symphonic Band’s SYF 2023 Performance here!

List of Participants


Mr. Lim Yean Hwee 

Teacher Mentors: 

Mr. Daniel Wong Chee Hoong

Ms. Ho Sze-Hwei Grace

Mr. Jason Tan Jia Sheng 


Xu Zhenni

Jamie Soh Kai Lin

Loh Yu Chen

Alicia Wong Xinyi

Yoon Seo Jun

Cao Xien

Chi Junxiang

Sophie Tan Hwee San

Cheryl Tay Chung Ling

Joshua Kyle Lam

Alva Mridha

Loewe Lim Li Tong

Liu Tianying

Yap Si Min Sharmaine

Husnatul Nasueha Binte Abdul Jaleel

Cadence Zhang Yuxing

Saara Katyal

Lim Shan Xing Marco

Low Rui Shyan

Wang Rongfei

Cai Zhengxi

Deng Shao Xuan

Tan Yi Xin Geri

Yasmin Binte Noh

Sudharshan Balaji

Reanne Sim En Ru 

Randall Lee Kang Yang 

Chan Haowei

Anderson Teh (Zhang Ande) 

Sun Yingshan

Chan Heng Yi 

Nehan Rahman

Ethan Ong Yee Tern

Wong Weng Lock Nathan

Gabrielle Lim Hong En

Sofia Mannan

Chin Kien Khai

Li Ruidan

Cheung Tsz Yin

Zhou Shenghe

Yuan Hao Zhe

Chia Jin Shuen Jeremiah

Low Jing Kai

468540cookie-checkRaffles Symphonic Band: SYF 2023


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