Singapore Arts Festival Blog

Choral, Coral, Chora… by junzpow
May 30, 2011, 7:11 am
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Choral Association (Singapore)

31 May and 1 June, Festival Village, Main Stage, 7-8.30pm

The marriage between words and music brings out the best of both forms. And if words carry in themselves the passion or fervour of the author, it becomes the role of music to convey these emotions right through to her listeners. Songs when sung in earnestness can weave out these affect behind the poetry, and their lyricism takes on an embodied state of sublimity when sung in harmony. This is what the 15 year-old Choral Association will be aiming to do in their presentation of Chinese choral music from the 1950s to the 1970s.

It was then a period entangled between Chinese chauvinism and communism. Music has always been a tool for propaganda in good times and bad. From the chanting of the Georgian monks to the belting of anthems at sporting tournaments, the song is the vehicle to rouse and arouse. No surprise that everyday life of the Chinese proletariat is set to music for they lie closest in spirits to the buoyant rhythms of work and nature. There were neither computers nor much electricity then and the means to spread the word would be through rhetoric. And what would be a more persuasive method than to vocalise through melody.

If you walk through the Festival Village on the evening of 31 May and 1 June, be prepared to join in the festive bellowing of authentic Chinese tunes sung by a hoard of 50 choristers. Learn of the romance of the horse carriage driver or pledge your allegiance to protect the yellow river; immerse yourself in the rich pentatonic allure of pretty jasmine or unite in peace and camaraderie with your comrades. These themes and more are what our parents and grandparents had espoused during the times of turbulence. Come and soak in a mood of pride and nostalgia, and as what the president of the Choral Association Mr. Lee Yuk Chuan told me, “to relive the dreams and aspirations of our bygone memories”.

Jun Zubillaga-Pow