The Temasek Junior College (TJC) bands pay tribute to their former resident conductor, the late Mr Lin Ah Leck, in the 40th instalment of its Prelude concert series.
Affectionately known to TJC Symphonic Band members as Linsheng, he has been with the band since the beginning from 1977 till 2019. His absence meant a lot to the alumni members as he was the central figure in their band journeys.
“The idea of the tribute concert came about shortly after Linsheng’s passing, but the pandemic happened, which disrupted the vibrant live arts and music making. We had to put that idea on hold,” Tuba alumnus Derek Lim Heng Kiat shared.
“Given that the college is also moving to a temporary holding site while the existing site rejuvenates, it was the right moment to pay tribute to Linsheng,” TJC bands teacher, and Clarinet alumnus Seah Cheng Tat added.
The concert will feature the TJC IP Band, who recently attained the Distinction award at the recent Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation in April. Under the baton of conductor Jovan Neo, they will be performing the SYF 2023 set piece – ‘Tanah di Bawah Angin’ by Kahchun Wong, and their choice piece, ‘With Heart and Voice’, by David R. Gillingham.
“I feel very honoured to play in this concert with the main band and alumni band. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to perform live. However, now that Covid restrictions have lifted, it is my pleasure to be able to be part of an amazing group of performers who are passionate towards music and make music with them,” Percussionist and IP Band leader, Zachariah Peh Ee Cher, shared.
“I also feel grateful to perform in an external venue and create memories that my band members and I will treasure forever. As the concert venue was our SYF venue as well, it not only brings back memories of us putting in a lot of hard work, but also the fun times of bonding and enjoying ourselves.”
“As part of a band that has been performing since 1977, I am often inspired by not just my current band members, but also my JC and Alumni seniors. I remember first meeting my seniors from JC Band and I was very inspired by them to do better, and to continue my music-making journey in JC as well. Performing with them during Fiesta last year also allowed me to forge friendships and spur each other on when we faced any challenges,” he added.
The TJC Symphonic Band (TJCSB), who will perform in their SYF Arts Presentation a day before, will also present their SYF set and choice pieces under the baton of Jovan Neo, namely kinderszenen by Bertram Wee, and Princess Kushinada’s Tears Flowing in the Hii River (Small Version) by Masanori Taruya during the concert. It will also perform「君の名は。」コレクション (Kimi no nawa) by Seiji Miyagawa on top of its SYF programme.
“Preparing for both performances is definitely stressful since we have to juggle our SYF pieces as well as new pieces for the Prelude concert. However, knowing that my band mates are all in this together makes me feel more motivated to do my best and to never give up, especially with my supportive section mates!” Percussionist and JC Assistant Band Leader Rhythm Wuang Jing Jie said.
Trombonist and JC Band Leader, Ahmad Munir Bakti Bin Abas, also shared that it has been a joy preparing for SYF and the concert, despite the stress of having two performances back-to-back.
“We’ve spent months making the pieces come alive and we’ll be able to showcase all the hard work we’ve put in in the upcoming concert.”
Apart from the tribute to Linsheng, this concert also makes a tribute to Temasek Junior College’s 46-year-old campus, which will be rebuilt after this year.
“One memorable moment in band is definitely the performances held under LT1 as it is quite unique in our school, and the time spent with my band mates performing there is one I would not forget,” Rhythm said.
“I’d say some key moments the members will miss would definitely be the performances we’ve held in our school auditorium like HeArts@TJC and our very own Fiesta concert, where we would invite prospective secondary four students who are passionate about band and want to join TJC to perform with us. The Fiesta concert is always a lively one that is filled with energy as students will perform familiar favourites and also get to perform with the three wings of TJCSB – IP band, JC band and Alumni band,” Munir added.
Featuring a total of three conductors, TJC Alumni Band will present a programme that reflects the type of music that various alumni enjoy, and also reminds them of the musical journeys that the band has had with Linsheng.
“Overture No. 2 by Kelly Tang, is one of the SYF pieces that many students of the 2009 batches would remember. According to Lin Yunfeng (Linsheng’s son), his childhood consisted of listening to Classical music repertoire, hence, Carmen Fantasy by Eiji Suzuki. Singapore River, composed by Linsheng himself, reminds us of the yearly staple repertoire of Linsheng’s Chinese Orchestral arrangements that the band would perform for Chinese New Year celebrations in college,” said Derek and Cheng Tat.
“We also wanted a concert that came from the heart of alumni, so we will be having our own TJ band members conducting the pieces that Linsheng used to conduct.” they added.
One of the highlights of the concert is ‘Machu Picchu’, a well-known work that remains a memorable piece to TJ bands till today.
“Pieces by Satoshi Yagisawa always have a special place in TJCSB. Machu Picchu was the choice piece for the 1st National Band Competition in 2006, in which the band clinched the Top Band Award in the Open Division category. Following which, it was also one of our choice pieces for the 2014 Singapore International Band Festival. We will never forget the moments during practices that Linsheng would ask us to give him a chance to work on certain passages to ensure that the music would be beautiful,” Cheng Tat shared.
In a special commission by TJC Alumni Band, the combined band of IP, JC and Alumni members would present the World Premiere of Satoshi Yagisawa’s new composition titled 淡语林声 ‘Echoes of Temasek’ in memory of Maestro Linsheng.
“There has always been a special relationship between Satoshi Yagisawa and Linsheng. Linsheng loved the compositions by Satoshi, and enjoyed the lyrical melodies and intense rhythmic sections alongside complex harmonies that the pieces have, which is why the band performs his music regularly. Satoshi himself also visited TJCSB in 2013 to conduct a masterclass with the band performing Perseus, the band choice piece for that year. When we approached Satoshi, he readily agreed to write the music to pay tribute to a good friend whom he has known for a long time and remembered all their conversations,” Cheng Tat recalled.
Linsheng has left behind the love for music and the strong sense of family for the band members that were under his baton. Over the years, many alumni band members continue to return to TJC to perform and also guide the juniors of current batches. These bonds that all band members share through music have been strong and unwavering.
“Throughout Linsheng’s many years at TJC, with returning alumni band members, he would always ask for our opinions about how the current band sounded so that he could improve and better work with the students,” Derek shared.
“Linsheng truly lived out the spirit of life-long learning, always eager to find out more about music, and always willing to listen for our opinions of how the band could sound. His legacy enabled us to truly understand the bonds of and the love for music, friendships and family. He always asked us for a big ball sound, something only a TJ musician could understand and feel in their music. It’s hard to put it in words, but listen to the chords and harmonies produced under his baton and you will hear this big ball sound he so frequently calls upon us to produce.”
May the TJ band music live on.
Saturday, 6 May 2023
Singapore Conference Hall, 7.30pm