Ramblings of a (new mummy) singer

This blog post (baby) took 9 months in the making…ok maybe a couple of weeks, the blog post, I mean.

The pieces that we pick up in the choir (The screams of a hungry and impatient baby).
Music to the ears of the beholder.

Having a newborn and singing in a choir sorta parallels Life =)

Dragging a tired body and mind to the SONG and MUSIC at choir rehearsals (twice weekly, over 12 years now. Wow. 12 already?), at the end of a challenging school / work/ day…

Can I still sing while preggy? What will the bodily (hormonal!!) changes do to my voice?
Trepidations aplenty. I remember…

feeling breathless singing within ONE bar

*breathe breathe. skip a couple of notes. Smile =) Sing. breathe breathe*

wondering if I’ll still fit into my choir uniform
looking like a hippo in a borrowed larger uniform
singing with the choir on stage at 7 months in *achievement unlocked!*


Soothing a seemingly inconsolable crying newborn (EVERY DAY) with SONG and MUSIC… Soothes so many raw nerves.

I recently re-discovered a stash of SYC concert recordings and dug out 2 of my favourites – Poverello (2004) & Dobrogosz Plays Dobrogosz (2011). Okay. I also put these 2 recordings on play and repeat and repeat mode because I was desperate to calm the newborn. Whatever works!

Some take lonely roads that never meet…
Some take long roads, some take hard roads…

Listening…humming along…singing along aloud (I remember the words to my parts and OTHER people’s parts!) soothes and even baby falls asleep more quickly and soundly. Hurray!! *Huge sigh of relief*

Lord I’m free… (when baby’s sleeping)…
Lord I’m free… (
when she’s fast asleep)…

The power of music. The magic of choral singing. Waiting for that opportunity to go back to singing with the group again.

Any way the wind blows…

Can’t wait for the day too when this little one embarks and explores her own musical journey

And they all come back to Thee.



Found a pomegranate in…my room in Melbourne!

Today’s weather forecast reads:

Hi: 19 deg
Lo: 8  deg
In a room where the cold winds come through under your door (!) and through the cracks of the window frame (!!), boogie-ing around the room to Ko ko wa…na ni ka no na ka na no de wa na e de……..sure helps to keep one’s heart and soul very warm =)
Much misses and kisses,

What a difference a year makes

What a year 2011 has been.

It started with THREE

Although I missed the second installment in Japan, it was good to come full circle (or maybe triangle in this case) with the third THREE concert in Manila, reuniting with friends from the Ateneo Chamber Singers and Gaia Philharmonic Choir. And also friends from the UST Singers who came to support.

Full of Love, full of Hope, full of Joy! Together for a better world, there was much to celebrate about. But maybe we under-estimated the power of our rain chant..

Then there was Super Duper Steve D

Who could have asked for more. Soul + Jazz + Classical + Tropical/Caribbean/Oohgachaka all in one. It was such fun working with Steve Dobrogosz, getting to speak with him on his musical ideas behind the pieces and singing his newly written Singapore Songs. It was also great sharing the stage again with local musicians Tamagoh and Tony Makarome.

Singers of the World, Unite!

As if we heeded a cry to gather, we then headed for Sopot, Poland to take part in the 7th International Choir Festival – Mundus Cantat Sopot 2011. Traveling halfway around the world in slightly over 24 hours, we forged new friendships with fellow choristers from Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. One of the highlights of the festival was the march down Bohaterów Monte Cassino Street. I still vividly recall us waving our flags proudly. “This is my country, this is my flag…this is my family, these are my friends. We are Singapore, Singaporeans!” loudly we proclaimed. Feelings of pride and patriotism coupled with excitement and open-hearts filled the air as we embraced each others’ cultures while sharing our own. As we sang our much-loved local pop-song – Bunga Sayang, it felt like we had transported our new found friends to our village by the sea (we even had special effects from the cool sea breeze).

Singing Ko Matsushita’s Cantate Domino with the other choirs at Sopot Pier brought a different meaning to caring and sharing. I’m happy that we could also do our part as instruments of peace to help our friends in Japan. After all, what would a voice be if there were no heart?

Japan came to us – Astrordinary

With a blast (literally), we were brought into a different universe by Ko and our fellow friends from Gaia as he came to conduct us at yoKOso! As we flew across time and space continents, we visited music from the different periods, genre and languages. Parlez-vous français?

I love early music as much as I love contemporary works. Thank you for the chance to sing one of my favourite pieces – Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium.

And also for the chance to experience onsen-dipping, snowy mountains and fishing villages.

In exchange, some of us went over..


Amid the packed schedule, we took time to roll-crawl-hop-skip-run all in the name of bonding and fun. I really enjoyed our brief taste of touch rugby and water-bombing. Let’s do it again!


On a separate note, congratulations again to 2011 Cultural Medallion recipient, Dr. Kelly Tang. Thank you for sharing your music and vision with us!

Of black on black & more patriotism

Talking about realm, rehearsing the Rothko Chapel can sometimes send one pondering much, reflecting on shades of black on black..Ohm.

And then there was the performance day itself. That day will definitely be one of the most memorable days of 2011 for me. So you see, some of us hold what one might call a ‘day job’ that sometimes being called a ‘day’ job is a misnomer.  We were supposed to report at the Esplanade at 630pm. 545pm, an urgent issue at work cropped up. 620pm, the scenic sprint across Esplanade Drive/Bridge from One Raffles Quay began. 635pm, arrive at Esplanade fully warmed up. 730pm, performance. It was a good performance. 8pm, done with Rothko Chapel and off to the Singapore Conference Hall for our rehearsal with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. We were rehearsing for a performance for Poh & Co’s anniversary which featured one of Mr. Poh’s own composition “愛” – love your country like how you would love your family. 10pm, done with rehearsal and back to work. So who said bankers have no life?!

No more ‘do-the-shoulder’ bogey for me for a while though..

Kodaly & Caroling

What better way to end the year by lending our voices to the Kodaly Seminar as we played demo choir for the participants, as well as carol with the St Andrew’s Secondary School choir.

Looking back at 2011, I must say that it has been a very eventful year. All these against the backdrop of losing our home at 54 Waterloo Street. But evidently it can only get more exciting from here. Have road, will travel. Thank you SYCES for a fantastic 2011. Thanks for the music, the friendships and for keeping me sane. Until 2012, wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



looking through some random pictures.

thought of this song.

-Roads (SYCES with Steve Dobrogosz)-

the songs we sing thread their way through my life in an unending, ever-changing soundtrack.

there’s a song for every road, every journey.


Of Roads and Rivers

When I first heard that we were singing with Steve Dobrogosz, I remember Google-ing him once I got home. When I found his music and heard, I felt really happy. That is what his music did to me when I first heard it. However, as I delve further into his music when we began to rehearse it, I got more and more out of it.

His music may seem jazz-like and pop-inspired at first sight (or at first hearing). But the more I sang his music, the more beautiful it became. Just because something sounds light does not mean it was lightly written. Every part has a purpose and when I’m singing his music, I almost feel like I’m transported to an American gospel choir, all spiritual and full of love to express.

Every time I pick up the scores from Dobrogosz, I notice how the instrumentation of most of his pieces (and I do mean MOST of his pieces) are always brings out more what the choir is singing about. Everything from piano to strings to percussion, it adds to the dynamic nature of the music and lets . I always feel like moving and energized even more once I hear the pieces in their entirety.

His take on texts we as singers heard (and sung) before always bring a new light to the familiar words, and even bring attention to things I never noticed. I cannot wait to meet the man behind the name we see on the scores we rehearse every Wednesday and Saturday. It will be absolutely wonderful performing with the piano man himself, singing of larks, of rivers and of roads.


Drumrolls, strings, ivory keys & the Mass

At the end of 2009, we sang Miskinis’ Light Mass. I wonder how this Dobrogosz’ Mass will be like. Yet, I am excited as well, as the choir will be joined with Tamagoh, Tony Makarome and Steve Dobrogosz on the drums, double bass and piano respectively. Tamagoh and Tony Makarome were the percussionist and double bassist for the Light Mass, and I am excitedly looking forward to making music with them again!

Singing with instruments is different from singing a cappella, which we usually do. Not only does it help to tune, but it also boosts up the mood to sing. But to work it out is not as easy as it seems, ‘cause we need to make harmony between the voices and the instruments. And this time, we challenged ourselves to make harmony with Dobrogosz Mass pieces.

By the first practice, I have fallen immediately for Agnus Dei. This time I believe in what they call “love-at-first-hear”, which is quite rare. The melody moves me and brings me comfort. Dobrogosz’ interpretation of Agnus Dei, to me, is really fantastic, where the melody matches the lyric.

The lyric “Miserere nobis [have mercy on us]” is composed with a humble melody, as if we were asking for forgiveness from God. Also, the lyric “Agnus Dei [Lamb of God]”, which is repeated three times, has three different moods as well: from saying hello, to asking for attention, and finally, begging-like melody, where the tune is consecutively raised by a semi-tone. Now, the song has become my favourite setting of Agnus Dei ever.

The other piece of Dobrogosz Mass, Sanctus, is also great, with a lively and spiritful melody. It will be way better when we sing it with the instruments!

Dobrogosz’ Kyrie is as cool and jazzy. I like the Bass part here. 🙂

Anyway, I am excited and looking forward to our  jazzy concert at the end of March. This is going to be another fantastic one!