Light the Way: Many Noteworthy Voices, One Perfect Harmony

Written by: Beverly Tan (19-E3), Li Xin Rong (19-I4), Sit Jie Ren (19-I4)

Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)

Photograph taken by: Jacey Teoh (18-E1)

EJ Choir’s melodious voices are usually reserved for the competitive season, namely the Singapore Youth Festival (SYF), which has just passed. After clinching a ‘Distinction’ for SYF a few weeks ago, EJ Choir is gearing up once again for the upcoming ‘Light the Way’ concert on 11th May 2019. More of the student body will be able to hear their unique performances, many for the first time. Their journey continues, a cycle which has been fraught with challenges but is now bearing the fruits of their labour.

On a balmy Monday morning, the three of us interviewed Gabrielle Joly Lee (19-A3), Gabriel Tan (19-A4) and Gaston Liew (19-A2), three J1 members from EJ Choir.

For starters, we asked them how they practiced, and whether or not they practiced at home. “Normally we practise at MEP Room 1 and our practice days are on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 4.30pm to 7.30pm”, says Joly. According to Gabriel, the Choir members “send themselves recordings of themselves singing to listen on the go”. To quote Gaston, while “practice was encouraged, it was not enforced”. Taking into account that the Choir members have their own hectic schedules to deal with, it may be difficult to find time to practise, especially with looming deadlines and numerous CA tests.

It was no doubt that the days leading to the College Day performance have been fraught with challenges; juggling multiple commitments in their hectic JC lives while maintaining the quality of their practice is just one of them. According to Joly, “time constraints, especially because the College Day performance is near lecture tests like the economics lecture test” was an issue majority of the Choir members faced. In addition, they had to be more conscious of their diet and consume less fried and spicy food in order to preserve their voices for the final show. Gaston cited the inconsistency during practice sessions as a challenge because “one practice may be good but another may not be as good as the previous one”. This is to be expected as the different hours of each school day leaves them at varying levels of lethargy, which would affect their vocal performance. It is indeed a mean feat for the Choir members to ensure their voices are in the best condition for practices and the eventual performance, all while juggling their personal commitments.

Upon asking what they would be performing on College Day, and whether or not they would be keeping it a secret, the three of them shared conspiratorial smiles, but still shared it with us. The 2 songs they will be singing are ‘My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land’ and ‘O Sapientia’.

“My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land” is a choral piece composed by Edward Elgar, an English composer. Hauntingly beautiful and enthralling, it tells the tale of the separation of two lovers, hinting at the possible death of one of them in war. ‘O Sapientia’ translates to ‘of wisdom’ in Latin. It is an old piece that was one of the Great O Antiphons, taking the form of short chants that were once recited as part of liturgical tradition. Gaston further elaborates that the “two songs are very contrasting pieces in the way they sound, having different musical textures and it would be interesting to listen to two very different songs”. The presentation will be a unique one, with the different languages they are chorusing in and the different emotions they would inspire.

In all, there is no particular theme for Choir’s performance, although it will follow the theme set by the name of the College Day Concert, “Light the Way” .

Last but not least, we rounded up our interview with the hackneyed question, “What does Choir mean to you?”

To Joly, EJ Choir is like a family; a place where she knows none of her friends would judge her and where due acknowledgement is given. “It’s just like how you always look forward to see your closest friends or your family after a long day,” she said with little hesitation, “This is one of the reasons that I am motivated to do my best for Choir.” Gabriel adds on that even when they are not practicing, they still spend time together, be it playing badminton together or chatting online. “Sometimes, when we stay in school, we just chill or study together. I think Choir has really brought us together.” Finally, Gaston shares that they enjoy singing and creating music together. “It’s quite a beautiful thing because everyone matters in creating the sound they create,” referring to the overall melody that is strung together to form a masterpiece they can be proud of.

The sentiment is bracing and sincere, leaving little room to question their strong bond. By performing as one heart, one mind, we are sure that EJ Choir will put up a captivating show on College Day. Press would like to wish Choir the best of luck for their concert and we certainly look forward to watching their performance on the 11th of May.  

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