eternal light

So, in less than 48 hours, we will board a plane that would bring us to Manila for TATLO.

Tatlo means “three” in Tagalog, the Philippine national language.

The word “three” has great significance to the SYC Ensemble Singers. In December 2006, we held a concert, “THREE”. Inspired by the International day of choral singing, Three Choirs, the Ateneo Chamber Singers from the Philippines, Gaia Philharmonic Choir from Japan and us, led by our conductors (coincidentally born in the same year), sang to a wonderful audience at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

In January 2009, we met again in Tokyo, Japan, for THREE Vol. 2. Now, we will meet in Manila in our latest incarnation, TATLO.

Some of Ateneo, some of Gaia and some of SYC after our concert. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. Jan 2009.

THREE is more than a random occurrence of singers being at the same place at the same time. It is friendships and musical relationships formed; and each time we meet, it is as though the two years have never passed – we are never short of words to say, and we sing together like its unnatural not to.

At the same time, we are fundamentally different, bringing each other’s culture, sentiments and character through our music to one other and the audiences we perform to.

In each of these concerts, we present three triple choir works, all written specially for (the three of) us, by composers from our own country. Our offering to THREE has been “Aeterna Lux, divinitas”, a three parter composed by a young, talented, Singaporean composer, Americ Goh.

“For the “Three” Festival, first held at home in 2006, Jen (our conductor, Jennifer Tham) gave me the opportunity of writing a work for the three choirs. Having a deep connection to the text Aeterna Lux, divinitas, I set each movement to each strophe. The second movement Summum Parentem credimus was composed in 2008. Compositional “energy” and intuition are sustained and continued from the first movement to the second, and to the third, O veritas, which was completed in 2010.”

The title of the work, “Aeterna lux, divinitas” means “Eternal light, divinty”.

The text of the three movements correspond to the first three verses of the 18th century hymn it’s based on.

AETERNA lux, divinitas,in unitate Trinitas, 

te confitemur debiles,

te deprecamur supplices.

ETERNAL Light, Divinity,O Unity in Trinity, 

Thy holy name Thy servants bless,

to Thee we pray, and Thee confess.

Summum Parentem credimusNatumque Patris unicum, 

et caritatis vinculum

qui iungit illos Spiritum.

We praise the Father, mighty One;we praise the sole-begotten Son; 

we praise the Holy Ghost above,

who joins Them in one bond of love.

O veritas, o caritas,o finis et felicitas, 

sperare fac et credere,

amare fac et consequi.

O Verity! O Charity!O Ending and Felicity! 

in Thee we hope, in Thee believe,

Thyself we love, to Thee we cleave.


While the text is old, Americ has injected a modern touch to it. Sparse beginnings and funky intervals move onto denser textures and a (sonic) blooming light (well, you can almost actually SEE the light and hope materializing in front of your eyes).

listen to Aeterna lux, divinitas – performed 4 Dec 2006, Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore.
“Each movement portrays different sides of me and reflects my influences at each juncture.

In fact, Americ was part of our choir before he left for Austria to further his studies, and had participated in the very first THREE.  To us who know him, the works tell us more about him through the years, and what his likes/influences/inspirations are.

“These movements contain reminiscence of history through the use of direct/derivative quotations from the great masters.”

Listen carefully and you might hear a Bach chorale-ish bit here and some Strauss there.

Unlike many composers who dictate every single detail and performance direction in their scores, Americ has chosen to give the performers, or rather, their conductors, free reign.

“Each movement writes itself and has a life of its own, I was only there to guide in the process. It’s important that conductors/performers not perform rigidly to the scores’ indications, but express their own interpretation along with my guidelines. Jen has artistically accomplished this.”

On 8 January 2011, the three choirs will perform Aeterna lux, divinitas – III. O Veritas. As we sing of hope and faith with our friends from Ateneo and Gaia, we hope that our interpretation of the music will bring light to our audience in our world of uncertainty; and with TATLO, a wonderful start to the new year filled with great music, friendships and simple joys that we have been blessed with.

p/s: Thank you, Americ for your time and words, and of course, the wonderful gift of your music. 🙂

Lovesongs III

Splendid recording of Lovesong III. Have fun.



The title looks harmless enough. But BEWARE: it can be detrimental, to the ears, when sung at the range of high F – C#, especially in the kulning style.!

I am sure everyone in SYC knows what’s kulning by now, since we’ve done it at last Saturday’s and tonight’s rehearsals. Especially after tonight’s rehearsal, we now know who are the herding girls in disguise huh. LOL.

Anyway, for the unaware, and according to Wikipedia, ‘kulning’, or herding calls, is a ‘domestic Scandinavian music form, often used to call livestock down from high mountain pastures where they have been grazing during the day’.

It has a high pitch quality, produced using headtones, and often only sung by women. Apparently, different families would pass down their unique kulnings so that their family’s cows would recognize it and respond to it (by using their bells, duh.)

And, interestingly, I found a sound clip of ‘kulning’ on wikipedia as well. It sounds very ‘pretty’ to me, but the unmistakable quality of ‘herding call’ can still be heard very clearly; the bright, piercing sound of calling out to your cows and goats to come home. We need to sound like that!! Like we are calling the cows and goats of SYC to come back to the choral studio.

Take a listen here and keep your speaker volume down, just in case. =)