Thursday, August 22, 2013

National Day Reverie at Gardens by the Bay

“The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears.” 

Sounds familiar? They are the lyrics from the 1965 film, The Sound of Music, and would be what the lead character, Maria Von Trapp, would have sung if she were here, on a hill. She would have spun in small circles with her arms wide open, as if she were welcoming Mother Nature to sing along… except that her hill would look more like a bump situated in front of a Texas Chicken outlet at Gardens by the Bay.
Clockwise (in picture): NYPSO cello section, last minute confirmation of the repertoire, NYPSO cello section (yes that’s me in the middle) with our cello tutor.
The Sound of Music was the opening piece for the Nanyang Polytechnic Symphonic Orchestra (NYPSO) when it performed at Gardens by the Bay as part of the Garden Series to celebrate the nation’s birthday on 11 August 2013. In case you didn’t know, NYPSO is the first polytechnic orchestra in Singapore. It comprises of two main groups of performers - NYP Band (winds and percussion) and the NYP Strings Ensemble. The orchestra has performed in countries such as Austria, The Netherlands and Australia.

 Dr Zechariah Goh, the gentle conductor behind the music, uses his arm and the baton as a flexible metronome.

Well, if you missed the performance on Sunday, fret not! I belong to the orchestra and I’ll take you through the entire experience!

That Sunday, we arrived at school early to help with the logistics. The process was quick and we were soon on our way to the venue.

Look how beautiful and serene the gardens are.

Upon our arrival, we were escorted to the Gardens by The Bay headquarters. Here was where we spent our free time while the band went for their sound check.

When there’s a will, there’s most certainly a way. Who says you need a music stand to practice?

One way of determining feedback is by observation. We were all smiles when this toddler danced to our music.

Surprisingly, playing outdoors wasn’t as humid as I thought it would be. I’m sure the cooling fans suspended above saved the day.

A sneak peak of where I was during the sound check!

As soon as we were done with the sound check, we went for dinner. During our spare time, we took a stroll around the garden.

By 6:50 pm, we were all seated and ready for the performance. This picture was taken a minute before the show began.

At this juncture, I recalled having sweaty palms and tense shoulders.

Our repertoire included songs from The Phantom of the Opera, The Chronicles of Narnia and Radetsky March. By the end of our first 45-minute set, the sun had retreated.

There were two parts to the performance, the orchestra followed by the band. After a fifteen minute interval, the band gathered together for the final 45-minute segment.

Local tunes such as “Stand Up For Singapore” and the Singapore Folk Song Suite certainly attracted more visitors to the party! Did you know that the latter was composed and conducted by Dr Zechariah Goh himself?

The second last piece for the night, “Come Sunday”, featured a solo saxophone.

The evening drew to a close with a song from Stevie Wonder. It was a splendid celebration of “togetherness”, the theme for this year’s National Day Parade.

There were many nerve-wrecking moments, but it was a great learning journey nonetheless. I was a greenhorn when I first joined the orchestra slightly over a year ago. Hitting the right notes wasn’t easy, neither was reading them

Being able to play pieces that I once thought were beyond my skill set was a personal achievement, but I could not have done it alone. Practice helped to smoothen out my rough edges. I also fostered a bond with my band mates- one which made me determined to press on despite the challenges that surfaced with each new piece. But knowing that we’re all in this together makes a difference.

Special thanks to Gardens by The Bay for hosting the event, and to members of the NYPSO cello section who helped me make this article possible.


By Chua Khai Woon (Year 3, Diploma in Banking and Financial Services)

Khai Woon is a Year 2 student pursuing a diploma in Banking and Financial Services. Watching movies and reading are among some of her hobbies. Above all, she enjoys listening to music and likes writing.  She is also a member of the NYP Symphony Orchestra. She believes life should be unpredictable, because that is the only way it will be exciting.

1 comment:

  1. how to you guys dont post about nypsu events?