By Dang Tran Minh Phuong (24A01A) and Cheah Zong Heng (24S06P)
Flashes of red followed by the pattering of steps as the members took their positions on the stage of the concert hall in the School of the Arts. Silence sitting heavy on the ears of the audience. A bow from Chorale’s conductor, Mr Toh.
The performance was about to begin.
Commencing the musical expedition was a Latin song composed by Johan Lindegren commonly used in prayer, with the interweaving melodies evoking a sense of peace.
The notes from the first piece fell upon the audience like petals. With excellent control of pitch and smooth execution of dynamics and phrasing, the piece flooded SOTA’s concert hall. As the melodies washed over the listeners like waves, it was clear that the foreign language of Latin was no barrier for Chorale when it came to interlacing the harmonies seamlessly.
II: Morning Rain
Penned by Aaron Lee and composed by Singaporean Americ Goh, Morning Rain comprised simple yet thought-provoking depictions of daily phenomena like falling leaves, eliciting a keen sense of nostalgia.
Doing justice to the song, Chorale vividly brought to life these seemingly overlooked aspects of our lives with their outstanding layering of voices and assiduous attention to the intricacies of the pieces. “In order to produce music, a lot of effort is needed,” Darryl Teo (24S06E) explained. “You need to pay attention to nail the minute details, and it takes long hours of rehearsals to coordinate.”
Chorale tugged at the audience’s heartstrings as they too immersed themselves in the piece.
Yet, one should also not overlook the crucial role of the piano accompaniment in supporting the piece. In fact, Yao Huacheng (24S03B), who accompanied Chorale on the piano, also came down to SOTA on various occasions during rehearsals to “feel the music”.
III: Father Thunder
The last piece dramatically took the perspective of the God of Thunder, complete with musical renditions of bubbles surfacing, sands shifting and a tempestuous storm.
Chorale demonstrated their skilful vocal percussion, popping their mouths to imitate raindrops before introducing swooshing sounds for the sound of the wind. Slowly but surely, these fragile sounds rose into hungry, surging voices that echoed throughout the concert hall.
With clapping, stomping and snapping, it was an invigorating show of the limitless possibilities of the human body as an instrument.
Enrapturing the audience and absorbing them in the vivid wrath of the God of Thunder, Chorale had transported everyone away to an entirely different world, sparing no effort in bringing rain and thunder to life in the hall.
The quiet that fell after the final pattering of hands was deafening, laced with the choir’s breathlessness of having just accomplished a wonderful performance and the audience’s admiration.
As every member walked off the stage, each one of them received a high-five from Mr Toh.
Later on, outside, Chorale would give a final melodic “thank you and goodbye” to Mr Toh and their teachers-in-charge amidst smiles and laughter.
The sentiment amongst Chorale members was clear. While SYF was no easy journey, it has certainly been a fulfilling one. This is especially so considering that this has been Chorale’s first SYF outing following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This was a unique and important performance […] in front of a large audience”, Darryl Teo (24S06E) said.
Needless to say, this flawless execution necessitated sheer hard work.
“Throughout sectionals, our conductor really pushed us a lot,” admitted Darryl Teo (24S06E).
Nandhini Elangovan (23S06J), the Chairperson of Raffles Chorale, elaborated, “It took a while of getting used to singing together […] and learn the hard way of […] give and take.”
Complicating matters, the new Year 5 batch had only joined recently. Nandhini Elangovan (23S06J) explained, “The juniors joined very late… so we needed to get them up to speed.” However, she praised them for their hard work in learning the new techniques, describing how she was “proud and happy to see them grow along the way”.
“Everyone emerged with a better understanding of Chorale music,” stated Nandhini.
For the conductor Mr Toh, he revealed that he had picked pieces that had not yet been performed in Singapore, opting for “contrasting” pieces that were “sad and folksy or tribal [and] that show a myriad of colours”.
However, one thing is certain. Regardless of the outcome, Chorale had truly made a painting of each piece they sang—and what colourful paintings they were.