(cover photo: Concert Time! / credit: Wind Bands Association of Singapore)
The Windstars Ensemble, made up of active performers and educators, recently had the opportunity to perform “Top Charts”, a concert showcase of popular wind band repertoire chosen and voted in by audiences.
Members of the public were asked to poll their favourite Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) choice pieces, and student band members also stood a chance to receive mentorship under the ensemble’s educational initiatives to perform with the Windstars Ensemble’s professional musicians under the baton of conductor ME5 Philip Tng at the concert.
“As part of our outreach and educational initiatives, the programme of this concert was voted in by band students. While it was rather daring for the programme to remain unknown to even the musicians and conductor, we were happy to listen to our audience.
Afterall, what’s more important than our audience enjoying our music and feel connected to the music through our performance?” said Sing Moh Li, Secretary, Wind Bands Association of Singapore.
“Many of the Windstars Ensemble musicians have had at least one experience working with a professional musician at some point of their careers. Most, if not, all of them would say that their first experience performing with professionals was an eye opening and humbling experience that continued to motivate and inspire them till date.
We wanted to share such experience with the students and perhaps can shed some tips to help them prepare for the upcoming performance,” she continued.
The concert, held over two sessions at SOTA Concert Hall on 8 February contained popular band classics such as Persis Overture, El Camino Real, Seventh Night of July, Jericho and the all time classic Blue Ridge Saga.
“We were very happy to be able to hear our audience’s musical taste and connect with them through our music. During the rehearsal and concert we saw musicians share their knowledge and experience with the students, taking time from their break time to coach students and demonstrate for students. Some of the lucky ones also got to try out solos parts! We would like to thank all the students and musicians of this concert and hope to bring music to all audiences,” Moh Li added.
One of its participants, Tan Wen Quan from NUS Wind Symphony Trumpet Section, found the mentorship program very beneficial.
“One of the more valuable lessons that I have drawn is the constant pursuit for perfection. Back in our own bands, we tend to neglect small mistakes like dynamic changes and articulation accuracy. However, in Windstars Ensemble, the musicians are extremely particular about these little flaws and they would always put in their 101% effort in perfecting their music. The attention they give to every single note is tremendous. To me, these are the things that ensure the quality of the music we make,” he explained.
Wen Quan was one of the 60 participants selected for the programme, who only had 4 rehearsals prior to the concert.
“I really liked the opportunity to learn from professional players and experience quality music making,” he said, when asked about the one thing he enjoyed about the programme.
“This mentorship program not only benefits students, but it also allows professional musicians to identify young and talented students for grooming. To many students, this is like a once in a lifetime opportunity to play in a professional ensemble. Thus, I feel that this mentorship program should be conducted annually to expose more young musicians to quality music making,” he added.