On the evening of Saturday, 28 March, 323 adult and student musicians gathered at the Goodman Arts Centre to play the National Anthem together.
Rallied through social media platforms and word of mouth within two days, The Philharmonic Winds and its youth arm, Philharmonic Youth Winds, invited wind band musicians and school band members to come together and pay tribute to Singapore’s founding father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
The tribute was to recognise and honour Mr Lee’s contribution to Singapore. But to wind band musicians, other than the great leader that he was, one who cared so much for Singapore, Mr Lee will also be forever remembered as the man who started the band movement in Singapore’s schools.
Adrian Cheong, President of The Philharmonic Winds, said: “As Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew has been there for all Singaporeans all his life. He also made it possible for generations of wind band musicians to have had the wonderful opportunity to learn music and play an instrument. This rendition of our National Anthem is our way of saying “Thank you, Mr Lee, for being there for all Singaporeans and for giving us the gift of music”.
“Singapore’s band heritage is long and meaningful. Other than being in the band during his school years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was also a drum major. I was touched by the fact that it was our youth members who were the first to say that they wanted to do something to commemorate the memory of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It clearly shows that his contributions have been felt by younger Singaporeans as well,” added Cheong.
Marcus Wong, President of Philharmonic Youth Winds, helped put this concert together to pay tribute to our founding Prime Minister.
“Knowing who is the father of the band scene made everyone want to come to do this properly. To me, Mr Lee is a figure of resilience, and to me I am always reminded of that. Especially to musicians, it is so difficult to master new instruments, and it is in that same resilient spirit that I feel Mr Lee ran this country.”
The large wind band comprised 39 flutes, 67 clarinets, 6 oboes, 8 bassoons, 48 saxophones, 23 French horns, 40 trumpets, 32 trombones, 20 euphoniums, 20 tubas, 4 double basses and 8 percussionists.
Eight drum majors also volunteered to be at the front of the band to reflect the local band scene’s military band roots and to pay Mr Lee the respect he deserves.
Although a large majority of the musicians were students from various secondary schools, junior colleges and tertiary institutions, there were also a few from primary schools. But for one day, they were all playing together as Singaporeans, showing their love and respect for Mr Lee.
The conductor of the performance, Adrian Chiang, was at a momentary loss of words when asked about his thoughts about the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
“He meant so much to Singapore. All of us are so fortunate to stay in this wonderful country. We have such an active and vibrant arts scene, and this can all be attributed to Mr Lee’s contributions to our nation.”
The Philharmonic Winds and Philharmonic Youth Winds would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to be involved in this tribute, including all musicians, videographers and photographers. They would also like to thank Goodman Arts Centre for facilitating this tribute.
More photos from the event can be found in the Facebook album here!