While many welcome the arrival of a new year, it marked the bittersweet ending for the students of Chong Boon Secondary School, and in particular, the Chong Boon Concert Band.
Since its inception in 1994, Chong Boon Concert Band has participated in 11 Singapore Youth Festivals. Its 23 years history saw the band being led by 6 different conductors, until March 2016, when it was announced by the Ministry of Education that Chong Boon Secondary School will be merging with Yio Chu Kang Secondary School in 2018.
“I was definitely saddened by the news of the school merger. At that moment, I felt disheartened as all the good work that we have built up all these years would be down the drain in no time,” said teacher Mrs Ng-Goh Shwu Jun.
“Time flies. I could still remember vividly in my mind how I struggled as a beginning teacher to set up the CBSS band from scratch. From the procurement of band instruments to “running across the field” to Chong Boon Primary School with a few students in search of our first band conductor, Mr Chua Tiong Hong. I had to do it single handedly.”
Slowly and steadily, the band grew stronger in size over the years and the members worked extremely hard to improve their playing skills. Public concerts titled ‘Metier’ were put up, and the band participated in the annual SYF Central Judging for Bands to showcase what they have mastered and achieved.
“2005 was a memorable year as we clinched our first ever Gold medal award. The band has done the school proud!” she recalled.
Following the ministry’s announcement, 2017 became a transition journey leading up to the actual merger. Although it may be a small hiccup in history, it has been a major part of the band students’ lives in Chong Boon Secondary School (CBSS).
“It was difficult because the school stopped taking in students, and had several teachers leaving. We had a bunch of demoralized kids who tried to make sense of band until the merger actually happens, but the band teachers stayed with them to ensure that the band members continue their learning through various performances,” said Seow Yibin, conductor of Chong Boon Concert Band.
Despite the band having an incomplete instrumentation, it performed in the school’s National Day celebration in August and participated in the Metier Concert with the alumni band. It subsequently had an exchange with National Junior College Symphonic Band (NJCSB).
The band’s last performance was with YCKSB and SWO on 25 November, which saw its students work with a new conductor and a new group of players. This also signified that the transition to the merger is properly handled to its completion, as the CBSS band students are now in the good hands of YCKSB and its conductor Mr Tan Yao Cong.
“It is heartening to see my students playing a big sound with a 50-strong band, where no section was incomplete. For the first time, they could actually hear a full band sound. It further warmed my heart knowing that my fantastic CBSS band teachers will also be in YCKSS to continue to take of the band,” said Yibin.
“Now, I am sure that these CBSS band students can say – despite the merger, they had an enriching journey of band education in their secondary school life.”
Chong Boon Concert Band: 1994 – 2017
Chua Tiong Hong
1997 SYF: Silver – Republica & Southwinds
1999 SYF: Bronze – Singapura Suite & The Highlander
2001 SYF: Silver – Singapura Medley & Fumon
2003 SYF: Silver – Tales of the Sea & Noah’s Ark
2005 SYF: Gold – Singapore Rhapsody & To Challenge the Sky and Heavens Above
2007 SYF: Bronze – Sunrise & The Seventh Night of July
2009 SYF: Silver – Overture No. 2 for Wind Band & The Goddess of Victory
2011 SYF: Silver – Memories of Friendships & Der Vogelhandler
2013 SYF: Accomplishment – Sarabande & Gold Rush!
2014 SIBF Division 2B: Bronze – Rites of Tamburo & Symphonic Episode 1
2015 SYF: Accomplishment – Hermes & To Be A Vivid Star
2016 SIBF Division 2B: Bronze – Heaven’s Light & Lighthearted March
2017 SYF: Accomplishment – Sunny Island & Century Point
A contributing editor at TBP.