Noah Ong Sze Kai

Saint Andrew’s Junior College Concert Band

joie de vivre
joie de vi· vre | \ ˌzhwä-də-ˈvēvrᵊ\ Definition: keen or buoyant enjoyment of life

My Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) journey with the SAJC concert band was truly, a special one. For a majority of the band members, this year’s SYF marked the end of their long, illustrious Band SYF careers. Their last hurrah, if you will. However, I was an exception to this.

Prior to 2019, I had virtually no experience in the SYF Arts Presentation, save for a two-month stint with my secondary school’s Guzheng Ensemble. It was going to be my very first (and last) Band SYF and I was brimming with excitement, anxiously waiting to start my very own SYF journey with my band. And boy, was it one heck of a journey.

My SYF experience was a crazy one, from start to finish. It all started with my conductor, Mr. Marvin Khoo, saying something I would have never expected a conductor to say: we would be changing an entire section of the drum part in this year’s set-piece – Party In Space. I felt that it was an extremely risky move, but one I was all too happy to entertain. We proceeded to spend the next few months working on our SYF set, tinkering and experimenting with it until we ended up with what we had set off to achieve, two pieces which perfectly encapsulated the essence and sound of the Saint Andrew’s Junior College Band.

It was a culmination of the countless hours of hard work and practice we had put in, the blood, sweat and tears, and the sacrifices we made to get there. While we were indeed striving towards getting a ‘Distinction’ award for our SYF, it was never our main goal. The results never mattered to us quite as much as the process did. More than just getting a fancy award, we wanted to produce the most beautiful music we could. More than being the best, we wanted to sound unique – inimitable. Most importantly, through this long and arduous journey, we wanted to have fun. Every practice, our conductor never failed to remind us to enjoy ourselves and have fun, a notion that is all too easily lost in the pursuit of musical excellence. And enjoy ourselves we did.

Every journey has an end. Getting the coveted Distinction Award in this year’s Band SYF Arts Presentation was sweet, but what was truly sweeter were the experiences and memories I shared with my fellow bandmates. I will never forget the times the percussion section dabbed along to the beat of ‘Selections from Die Fledermaus’ (our choice piece), the times the brass section to the tune of ‘Freaks’ by Timmy Trumpet and all the other shenanigans.

To the band, I thank you for this wonderful SYF journey that I’ve been privileged to embark with you guys on. Even as we close this chapter, we will continue to strive for excellence and work hard as we embark on the next chapter of our band; upholding our school’s motto, “Up and On”!