We ‘come from’, and we ‘go to’

And so the month of January recedes into what is past.

The etymology of the word ‘January’ can be found in Roman mythology, from the word ‘Janus’, the god of beginnings and transitions. Janus is apparently a two-faced god who looks both into the future, and back into the past.

How fitting a name indeed for the first month of the new year – a beginning, and in many ways, a transition from an ‘old’ year into a ‘new’ year. We enter a new phase, but we never forget what has transpired. We ‘come from’, and we ‘go to’.

In January, during the ‘THREE’ choir tour in Sapporo, Japan, I took my first-ever steps in white, powdery snow, and the quiet stillness of vast stretches of bare trees held me in thrall. I would have loved to hold a conversation with those trees, so wise, old, and stoic they looked, and I marveled at their firm patience. It was a collective hope they held, that in their stillness was the gestation of the exuberance of spring to come.


It’s an experience that I’d never forget – that it is in silence that we learn to understand what is sound; and in stillness that we begin to appreciate movement and the potential of life.

How serendipitous then that our next concert in March explores examples of such philosophical contrasts, juxtaposing light and darkness, life and death, hope and despair. Our lives are marked by our time in such phases, and as we shift from one polarity to another, engaging both in conflict and resolution, we emerge different, re-defined, changed.

I could never imagine life any other way.

– Marissa

Have you sung with 300 people?

well not like during morning assembly where you start to wake up for real by tunefully mumbling lines of the national anthem with say a thousand of your fellow sch mates (sch is great btw)

also not quite like when you decide to follow the patriotism of your heart and go for a national day parade and the whole floating platform (downgrade for recession eh) follow the choir along their tunes (NDP is great btw)

nor is it like when u go down to Singapore Indoor Stadium to watch SNSD perform and you scream your lungs out of your mouth together with 3000 delirious SONEs (SNSD is DAEBAK/GREAT/AWESOME btw)

no, what I’m talking about is when 300 people join together to make song, music, harmony, where each individual in this huge mass of people termed a “choir” has a specific purpose, a specific role, a specific contribution to make to the success of the single entity called the “choir”. Where everyone has a unique voice, unique history, unique country. Like the combinations of all the colours in the spectrum coming together to form this clear beam of light that illuminates the world with music and explodes in all shades of hues and luminosity upon reaching the listener’s ears. Like the transmission of this iridescence explosion from many to one, so marvelous and miraculous some call it magic.

Imagine the moment when you realize the music is so much bigger than you, that the relationships made with those who sing with you are as sacred, as pure as the words and harmonies that have been forged and refined in the kiln of tears and sweat.
Then you realize, you have sung with 300 people, and 300 people have sung with you.

So, have you sung with 300 people?

I have, and I testify, after the song has ended, one emerges a changed, new being.

-benlee tan

Happy days are over… NOT!!

With 25th December behind our backs at the strike of 12 midnight, gone is the day of us wishing each other “Feliz Navidad” (Merry Christmas in Spanish) and singing joyful christmas carols with our friends and families. As we usher in Boxing day and open our presents from our “Secret Santas”, one would think that there is probably nothing much more to look forward to, other than the upcoming new year just round the corner as 2012 comes to an end. However, I am extremely excited and looking forward to January next year!! This is because SYCES will be going to… Wait for it… Hokkaido, Japan!! 😀

With the THREE instalment having come full circle after 6 long years, we are once again embarking on another trip to Japan, where we will have another combined performance!! 🙂 I honestly cannot suppress the excitement and joy of meeting up with the people from Ateneo Chamber Singers and Gaia Philharmonic Choir. I am looking forward to the opportunity to sing together with them again and I am sure that it is going to be a night filled with wonderful music and choral camaraderie.

Of course, how can I forget the ever energetic Ko Matsushita and happy-go-lucky Jonathan Velasco?? I am sooo looking forward to being able to be conducted by them in our 3-choir combined pieces!! Of course, we will also have our lovely Ms Jennifer Tham conducting a combined piece composed by our very own local talent, Americ Goh! Wah… just typing down all these things is already making me uber excited!!

With just 2 more practices to go before we fly over to Hokkaido, I am all geared up to put on a wonderful concert together with ACS and Gaia from 4-7th Jan 2013! Looks like SYCES is going to have a belated white christmas after all!! Snow angels, anyone? 😛

– Song Ern

Turin in Twelve

While struggling with a lukewarm chicken pesto pizza—not unlike Proust’s madeleine—during a mid-week office party, I was beset by a tide of remembrance of a more recent past, ruminating on images of carefree traipsing around small Torinese cobblestone lanes, magenta Europa Cantat songbook in one hand and a cup of crema di Grom in another. These were more genteel times, I thought nostalgically, setting out to type this post. (The real reason: was beset by gentle reminders/chiding to complete this blog entry!!)

As a sort of inferior nod to Eric Bank’s Twelve Flowers (a brilliant, demanding composition that we performed for the Due North concert in September) here are twelve dispatches from an unforgettable summer of song:

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Europa Cantat Torino – 28 July 2012

Hung from the ceilings of the arcades that lined the Piazza, the Europa Cantat Torino banners defined choral terms and displayed scores.

Like most choirs who love to sing, we couldn’t help but stop before every readable score to sing.

Within a 10-metre stretch, we must have sung at least 4 different scores – an English canon, an African spiritual, a Gregorian chant and even a Renaissance motet. It was like a singing galleria.

In no time, we had passers-by, shopkeepers tagging along our little parade, listening to the music.

SYC Ensemble Singers – we’re ready to sing anything, anywhere. (NO, this is not our new tagline, but it kinda sounds cool.)

– Debbie
28 July 2012.

TWO Decades in the SYC

2012 marks my 20th years singing with the SYC ES.
If my memory is correct, my 1st rehearsal was 7 Mar 1992.

In this (long) 20 years, I have sung in almost every performances (except for the time when I was posted to Brazil for 3.5 months) and joined in every Choir tour.

Many people have asked “why you are still singing with the Choir??”
It’s a question that till this date, I still do not have an answer or there are too many answers…
The journey of making good music is not always fun. There’s also the agony, frustration and confusion along the way.
So what keeps me going?
the love of singing?
the sense of pride, accomplishment and achievement when the audiences show appreciation?
the opportunities to work and sing with various Conductors, Composers and Musicians both locally and overseas?
the joy of sending “hope, joy and love” with our voices?
the eye-opening, great culture experiences, sharing and exchanges on each tour?
the choir-mates whom I have developed great friendship with?
Or maybe it was just FATED?

No matter what the answer is, I am still here in this Choir and perhaps THE ONE that I would end my Choir life.

I have learned and gained a lot for the uncountable thousands of hours I have spent in the past 20 years.

I cherish and is grateful to all around me whom have been helping and giving me reasons to stay on with this Choir till this date.

Like most people, I may not remember every single rehearsals, performances, tours and people whom I have met.
But I will never forget that I was part of this remarkable Choir and perhaps in some small little ways, I have contributed (I hope!) in making some history with it.

~ Peiling ~


How many SYC uniforms do you own?

My 1st SYC Uniform

The Girls’ no. 1 uniform that was inspired by the “sarung kebaya” was introduced in 1996

The no. 2 uniform from 1996 to 2003

The no. 2 uniform since 2004

The “Matrix” uniform that everyone loves

Was lost… but have found my way back… :)

This year was definitely an extremely busy and hectic year. First, at the begining of the year we had TATLO, the third instalment of our combined choir concert with Ateneo Chamber Singers from the Philippines and Gaia from Japan. Then, once back in Singapore, it was time to gear up for the March concert with Steve Dobrogosz. After which, we had to prepare for a choir competition, Mundus Cantat in Poland, and then upon returning back to Singapore, it was preparation again for our year-end concert, which had a conductor exchange whereby we had Ko Matsushita coming over to Singapore with some Gaia members to have our YoKoso! concert in July! Wow, just typing all these out really made me wonder how I have managed to ‘survive’ this year. XD Well, it was hard and tough, BUT, it was super amazingly awesome and was definitely a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t trade those wonderful memories for anything in the world!! 🙂

Okay, but back to reality, this year is my 4th and final year in University, and it has made it much harder to make time for choir already. With all the immense workload and deadlines that I had to meet, for the first time since I joined the choir in 2007 April, I had to miss one performance/event with SYC Ensemble Singers!! That gig was the Rothko Chapel performance, which we were supposed to perform together with people from YST. I was feeling a little disappointed that I had to miss out on that performance, however, looking from another perspective, it was an opportunity for me to take a short breather after such a hectic year in choir.

So, your might ask, what exactly do all these things have in relation to the entry title? Well, basically what I would like to say is that sometimes, when we are all so busy with choir events, gigs and performances, we might ‘lose’ our way, and start to lose the very thing that made us love singing… the passion, the thirst of knowledge. Well, I had the firsthand experience after I had to take leave away from choir for about 2 weeks to prepare for my exams. As the saying goes, “Absence make the heart grow fonder”, and in my case, absence from choir make me realise that I really miss choir a lot, not just the people, the music, but really just getting to sing together with other people and make wonderful music!! It is times like this that it gives you the chance to step back and take a look and ponder exactly what we are looking for through singing in the choir. This is something that we people in a result-oriented country like Singapore might be very susceptible to experiencing.

Okay, I am not like encouraging people from choirs to start taking leave and breaks just to get the passion- for-singing feeling back again. Lolx, conductors will just KILL me for that… XD But, what I feel is that sometimes, we just need to occasionally take a step back and evaluate ourselves, our lives and the purpose of what we are doing. This doesn’t have to apply just to choral singing only… Take it as an opportunity to rethink and reorganize ourselves, so that we are better able to handle the various curveballs that are thrown our way.

May everyone soon find their way back in life, and be on track to hitting homeruns again. Cheers~ 🙂


bLobB3r (Songern)