HC Alumni Band x Voices: The Pursuit of Music

The Hwa Chong Alumni Band (HCAB) and Hwa Chong Voices will present a joint concert this Saturday, 6th July at the Yong Siew Toh Conversatory Concert Hall, 7pm.

Titled ‘Consonance’, the concert will showcase works from a wide range of genres, ranging from folk songs and contemporary music, to pop and jazz.

Under the baton of three conductors, the band will perform ‘Dream City’ by Toshiaki Minami, the ‘Beauty and the Beast Medley’ arranged by Toshio Mashima, ‘Japanese Graffiti XVIII’ by Takashi Hoshide, and their feature piece, ‘Music for a Festival’ by Philip Sparke. The choir will also present their own segment with the likes of ‘Rasa Sayang’, ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Sakkijarven Polkka’.

Ending the concert are two combined items, ‘October/Alleluia’ by Eric Whitacre and ‘Meridian’ by Ola Gjeilo.

“October is one of the most-performed wind orchestra pieces, and interestingly Whitacre has also made a choral version. We will be presenting our rendition of October/Alleluia, which combines elements from both wind and choral versions. We will then close the concert with Meridian, an exciting and creative work for piano, wind orchestra, and choir,” said HCAB’s principal conductor Natalie Koh.

The project was first conceived when members from both groups watched each other perform at their own annual concerts. It was further inspired by the prominent unifying factor between both performing groups, that each member is an alumni of Hwa Chong.

“Personally, I have always admired how strong an alumni group like Hwa Chong Voices is. They have managed to pursue musical excellence, all while maintaining the feel and vibe of a close-knit family. And it was perhaps this quality of togetherness and friendliness that led the alumni band committee reach out to the Hwa Chong Voices, which is much more established and experienced,” Natalie said.

“I believe the musicians from both alumni groups have fond memories of our good old Hwa Chong days. Coming together for rehearsals to make music, exchange stories, and simply to reminisce has been a joy, and something simply irreplaceable. Of course, with such a collaboration, we also hope to inspire more students (Hwa Chong or otherwise!) to form their own alumni groups. The pursuit of music shouldn’t end at graduation!” she continued.

In the build up to the concert, the band committee faced several challenges from a drastic lack of players, to sudden changes in rehearsal venues.

“The problems we faced were much compounded by the fact that we were (and still are) a young band facing growing pains. At our first few rehearsals, we had less than 10 players! It was quite disheartening because we couldn’t quite see how we would be able to grow to a full-sized band in a short 6-8 weeks. However, thanks to a few well-connected individuals in our band, we were able to pull together the number of Hwa Chong alumni necessary for a great performance,” said band Chairperson Sheares Tiong.

“Another memorable moment was when we had to move to another rehearsal venue, which meant moving all our percussion instruments up a hill and 6 narrow flights of stairs. As our rehearsals are usually on Friday evenings, only three of us were able to help shift; it was a struggle, but rehearsal that night went off without a hitch.”

“Along the way, we also faced many more problems and obstacles, but I’m pleased to say that through the pure grit of our members, and with the generous help of Hwa Chong Voices and the Hwa Chong Alumni Association, we have prevailed! I’m confident that Saturday will be a tremendous success for both groups,” he continued.

“The hardest part is over, and it’s time for both the audience and the players to have a blast!”

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