“Music expresses that which cannot remain silent and that which cannot be put into words.”
Victor Hugo’s words certainly resonated with me as I sat in my seat, thoroughly mesmerised by the performances put up by the SMU Chamber Choir during their 10th anniversary concert. The annual production was produced in collaboration with their alumni and the special guests for the night, the SYC Ensemble Singers. Those who made the trip down to Victoria Concert Hall last Sunday for ‘Wrinkles in the Air IX: Everybody Sing’ were certainly not disappointed.
The choir opened with a show-stopping piece called “Geographical Fugue”, an epic vocal chant that kept the audience at the edge of their seats. They flowed seamlessly in other notable pieces such as “Overture” – a piece in line with this year’s theme, “Everybody Sing” – and the finale, a traditional song called “Bunga Sayang” that was brimming with nostalgic vibes. I left the concert hall feeling inspired, hopeful, and in awe of the beautiful music that had filled me up.
I was lucky enough to have a pre-concert chat with resident conductor and Cultural Medallion winner, Jennifer Tham, on her thoughts about the choir. Jennifer described the choir journey thus far as a growing community of like-minded people that love music and help one another grow. This strong bond has seen many alumni returning to sing with the choir for this year’s concert. She also highlighted how the choir was able to increase the complexity of its repertoire and sing more vocally demanding songs; something clearly achieved during their concert.
To find out what motivated the faces behind the heavenly voices, I spoke with alumni Kenny Khoo about his chorale journey in SMU. As one of the pioneers of the choir, Kenny recalled how it was simply a love for music and singing that brought five people together to start the choir. Over the years, the choir took in students regardless of any musical background, and cultivated a passionate culture for music-making.
Indeed, the love for music has bonded this team immensely. As I sat in my seat, I could feel their passion and dedication radiate through the hall, infecting the hearts and minds of the audience. This also resonated with Jennifer, who believes that it is truly the people who make each choir special. They often say that music has that ability to transform you; perhaps it works both ways.
Since its inception in 2007, the SMU Chamber Choir has been making waves locally and internationally, clinching multiple awards and doing the university proud. However, at the heart of it is a group of individuals sharing a strong passion, and I dare say, an addiction to making music together. You can try to take the people away from the music, but you can never take the music away from the people. That’s all that matters, really.