National University of Singapore (NUS) Wind Symphony
Harmony 2 Division, 23 July
Parkstad Limburg Theatre Heerlen, 8.50pm
Dream City / Toshiaki Minami
Summer Dances / Adam Gorb
Traveler / David Maslanka
Following its third placing in Division 1 of the Singapore International Band Festival (SIBF) 2016, the NUS Wind Symphony (NUSWS) seeks to pursue musical excellence at a higher level by participating in the contest which it last went in 2001.
Considered as a huge step forward for the band, this WMC trip program was designed in hope that its members develop an awareness and a high expectation of fine musicality required in the contest.
“The contest is a suitable avenue to challenge the band musicians to push their boundaries. The experience and exposure gained at these high profile international events constitutes an important component of the education programme that NUSWS seeks to offer its students in the generations to come,” said Xu Yuting, tour head for the wind symphony.
“The biggest goal for us is to achieve improvement among ourselves from an individual level to the band level. The culture of constant learning, growing and improving would be what we hope to achieve when we band together to reinforce the value of excellence in music,” she continued.
During the contest, the band is required to perform 45 minutes of program, which includes the set piece ‘Summer Dances‘ by Adam Gorb. The other two works are the warm-up piece ‘Dream City‘ by Toshiaki Minami and choice piece ‘Traveler‘ by David Maslanka.
The modern band composition Traveler was chosen for its demanding technical rigour and its contrasting style with the test piece Summer Dances. Most interestingly, the music portrays the spirit of life – the journey of life in full circle, the future that bears hope, and the potential for tremendous gift of life and joy.
With a challenging repertoire, the planning and recruitment of players started as early as September last year. Intensive rehearsals only began in May this year, as the band prepared for their pre-tour concert and actual trip.
“For a long time, NUSWS has only been performing in concerts twice a year. However, we decided that it was time to expand our horizons and challenge ourselves by taking part in competitions,” said Cheng Huay Ee, a Year 4 percussionist.
“The preparation for WMC is very different from our concert projects due to a higher demand in the technicalities and details of the music. I believe that the members have learnt much and grown from this experience, and through the past few months, we have managed to push ourselves to improve and achieve greater heights.”
Sharing the same sentiment is associate conductor Francis Tan, who will be leading the wind symphony in the contest.
“In every rehearsal, the students are required to go an extra mile to achieve what the music requires. I hope the experience of preparing for a contest cultivates the students to apply the same attitude in whatever they do in life. Personally, taking part in competitions and festivals have always been such memorable experiences musically, and also a great platform to forge friendships of a lifetime.”
As part of the tour, NUSWS will be putting up an outreach show at Markt Kerkrade on 22 July afternoon. They will also be able to catch the Concert Division contest on 22 July evening, and have the opportunity for a tour of the Adams Instrument Factory. The wind symphony will mark the end of their Dutch trip after their contest on 23 July.
What makes this WMC trip special for Huay Ee is that she and the NUSWS will be able to represent Singapore and the University at an international level.
Coming from a string ensemble background where she played the violin in her secondary school and junior college days, Huay Ee decided to try something new by picking up the percussion in NUSWS. Never did she imagine herself to have come this far, and to even participate in such a prestigious event
“Being in a university band is special because of its diversity. Although we are from different majors, we come together and are connected by our common passion in music. In NUSWS, we accept members from all walks of life, even those without prior experience in band. I believe that this is the beauty of NUSWS because we learn from each other through the sharing of our knowledge and experiences.”
“With the motto of WMC loosely translated as ‘Breathing the World‘, we want to show the world that even though we come from diverse backgrounds, we are able to come together and communicate with each other through music.”
“Regardless of the result, I am sure that we are all proud and honoured to have been given the opportunity to bond and create music together in this event.”
A contributing editor at TBP.