About 3 years ago, Italian composer Lorenzo Donati presented SYCES with a beautiful gift: Tota Pulchra. The following year, we brought it along with us to Sopot (Poland), and sang it as our gift to the audience.
Back then, when we first picked up the piece, I was a freshie in SYCES. My voice was raw, and my ears were not used to the complex harmonies of New Music. Tota Pulchra haunted me for many weeks (in a scary, daunting way)!
I can clearly remember how much of an uphill task it was – I was struggling so hard just to grasp the notes that I shut out all of its beauty. I was neither giving way to others, nor to myself. All I had in mind was this: I had to make weird intervals with other people, using the weird notes I sing (with my weird, flat voice). I was angry with myself, I really disliked the song, and I could not understand why and how it could be beautiful, in any way.
My inadequacies blinded me to how the music was actually trying to find me. But slowly, in my subconsciousness (amidst my very conscious self-berating), the music revealed itself to me, and the chords started to shine and shimmer lightly, instead of pricking me; and I began to relax, and fall in love with this beauty, in every way.
There came a day when I realized I’d been playing the song so much on my piano at home, just to hear the harmonies. I stopped to wonder why – then I knew –
Because I cannot create more than one note at a time with my voice.
So I would learn to enjoy the harmonies on my piano at home, and yearn to create these harmonies with my friends in SYCES. But sadly, I could not go on the trip to Sopot due to my national duties, and did not get the chance to premiere this beauty on stage with SYCES.
But HEY, LIFE IS A CIRCLE.
Just a few weeks back, I was returned the same score that had suffered under the wrath of my perspiration, angsty flipping and millions of pencil markings.
Over the Sunday that had just passed, SYCES performed this beautiful piece of music at the Esplanade Recital Studio (ERS) as guest choir of the SMU Chamber Choir’s concert, Wrinkles In The Air VI: LIfe Is a Circle. I hope you were there with us to enjoy the beauty, in every song, that was presented that day. If you had missed that opportunity, do not fret! We will be bringing this piece to you once again in our very own concert this coming August. Just keep yourself constantly updated and grab the tickets once the sale starts!
Revisiting and singing Tota Pulchra again has really made me understand how much I have grown musically as a singer in SYCES. I am really glad to be given, not just one, but THREE (and hopefully even more) chances in total to perform this wonderful piece of music on stage.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve been through many ups and downs, musically and vocally. There will be many more to come, I know. But I also know this: from a struggling note-churning machine (and many-a-times an inaccurate one), I have slowly grown to understand how to listen to chords and fit my notes in, to create a kind of beauty only attainable when you listen and give way, and give thanks, to both others, and yourself. Tota Pulchra. This is a beautiful journey, in every way.