Written by: Dillon Phang (19-I4), Lee Keng Yan (19-U1), Aloysius Tng (19-U4)
Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)
As the sun set on the Singapore River, two bands ascended Esplanade’s Outdoor Theatre as one. EJC Symphonic Band, together with the Philharmonic Youth, took to the stage on 10th August, and produced yet another magical night, full of nostalgia and promises.
A wide array of uniquely Singaporean songs were performed over three sets of performances. Each set varied a little from the others, giving the audience a unique experience in each one. They performed a Xinyao Medley, a mix of popular Xinyao classics to create a beautiful piece exemplifying the beauty of Xinyao songs. The songs used in their own rendition contained the songs 细水长流, 你是我的唯， 人生如梦，说时依旧，恋之憇 and 我们这一班. Upbeat, smooth and evocative of the long Chinese tradition, woodwinds and percussion were featured prominently in this song and created something undoubtedly Singaporean. Other hit Chinese songs such as 小人物的心声 and 城里的月光 were also performed, the former featuring Mr Ralph Lim as a clarinet soloist, while the latter featured EJC Band president Leslie Yip, with a saxophone solo. Both improvised, with Leslie mixing the McDonalds theme song into his solo while Mr Lim played Careless Whisper, a popular song by Wham! Both put up spectacular performances, if the audience’s standing ovation at the end of their songs had anything to say. Bunga Sayang or “Flower of the Heart”, another classic composed by Dick Lee, was also played, being one of the few performed across all three sets. It has a gentle melody which fills one with nostalgia, and despite being an old song, still remains popular today and had been reinvented for SG50 and starred in Mediacorp’s new television series, Fried Rice Paradise. Several of the most memorable National Day Parade Theme songs were also played, including Stand Up for Singapore by Hugh Harrison, Where I Belong by Tanya Chua, and We Will Get There by Stefanie Sun, each from the years 1984, 2001, and 2002, respectively.
These songs are among some of the most renowned NDP songs and has become a staple for every national day. Reminiscent of the early days of Singapore and the long, hard road to success, EJC Band perfectly captured this enduring spirit in their performance. At the finale of the performance, the band performed Home, by Kit Chan, the NDP theme song of 1998. The crowd sang along, while waving their flash on their phones to the tune. The scene was simply amazing, to see everyone in the crowd joining in along to the song we all know and love. We were enthralled by the performance, and the passion of the crowd.
After that night of music, we approached the aforementioned Leslie Yip (19-I4), who featured in the performance for his thoughts about the experience.
“It was an honour to work with such a wonderful group of musicians from Phil(harmonics) Youth!” The Band president profused when asked about their collaboration with the more experienced group of musicians. He felt that the Symphonic Band had learnt a lot from their time together, from their initial meeting, preparation, and then performance as one unit. With regards to Mr Lionel Lye’s participation, the saxophonist recalled his initial surprise upon learning the current Acting Dean of JC1’s proficiency with the saxophone, and expressed his gratitude towards Mr Lye’s support in playing alongside the Band.
The Esplanade Outdoor Theatre was a new stage in more ways than one for the Symphonic Band. “This was our first external performance without our seniors around, so it was definitely challenging.” Leslie commented. Yet the Symphonic Band stepped up, and showed no signs of hesitation even in front of the unfamiliar public audience. The Band President was evidently quite proud of this, especially since the Band had an incredibly short time to prepare for this milestone event. Even the less experienced musicians, he felt, had pushed through the challenge with pride and determination, displaying great competency in the performance. For him, the Band has once again proven itself a place he is proud to call home.
This time, the Band took one step further into the public eye. We continue to listen eagerly for their future performances, and for the splash they’ll make on the local scene. Happy National Day, Happy belated 54th birthday Singapore! “This is home, truly”.