The lights above dimmed and the stage lights brightened. The Victoria Junior College Choir members walked out onto the Esplanade stage – the ladies dressed in white gowns and beautifully braided hair adorned with a simple white ribbon, and the gentlemen suited up in black suits and maroon ties. VJC’s choir conductor, Professor Nelson Kwei raised his hands and with a gentle nod and swipe of his hand, the concert began.
The opening song was ‘Lux Aeterna’. In a scattered out formation, the slow and moving piece echoed through the concert hall, introducing the audience to a gentle and sweet melody to kick off the night. Next, the female chorus took stage and delivered effortlessly a fast-paced and dramatic piece titled ‘Malaguena’. The audience was then treated to a slower and calmer song named ‘Wandering Heart’ by the male chorus. Following the male chorus, the chamber chorus performed ‘Star Of The County Down’. Though the chamber chorus only consisted of 14 singers, they were able to still project their voices far and wide, producing a deeply resonant sound of high choral standards.
Afterwards, the whole choir returned back to stage, singing original compositions – ‘She Walks In Beauty’ and ‘The Cloud’, composed by the student conductors, Seow Mao Yu and Toh Xin Long respectively. As they took turns to conduct the choir, emotions ran high as both student conductors stunned the audience with their soulful and passionate composition. This was a first in the VJ Choir history that original compositions by their own students were premiered and was certainly a huge milestone for VJ Choir. To finish the first half, the Victoria Chorale joined the main choir on stage to perform the song ‘Leonardo Dreams Of His Flying Machine’. This all-powerful and dynamic song brought the audience through Leonardo’s experience in building his flying machine. The pace of the song picking up and the overlapping of the different sections all together contributed to the image of a flying machine finally taking flight; one could picture it all happening right before their eyes.
After the intermission, it was the grand reveal of the costumes the choir had put together for the second-half over the months. The choir surprised the audience with single-coloured tribal dresses, patterned cloaks and face paint. It was impressive how they were able to fully transform themselves from their formal attire in the first-half to a tribal-looking choir with each colour dress reflecting a specific animal in mere twenty minutes! They were well-received; the audience gushed in excitement.
VJ Choir continued to mesmerise the audience with their next piece ‘Phoenix’. This piece started off gentle and light with the sopranos paving the melody. As the song progressed, the chorus built up to the climax, where the choir belted out a grand chord in perfect harmony in a hair-standing moment before resolving in a soft and gentle end. With such a grand opening to the second-half, the choir proceed to explore the theme for their concert: All Things Bright And Beautiful. Singing the songs ‘Among The Leaves So Green O’ and ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ revealing the lighter side to the choir, the cheeky and humorous atmosphere brought about by the songs drew a contrast to their previously soothing and regal pieces. This is especially when halfway through ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, the choir suddenly stomped their feet all at once and made pawing motions to imitate teddy bears in a forest, bringing the song to life by voice and action, leaving the audience stunned. The hint of mysteriousness of ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ was further complimented in the following song, ‘Unicornis Captivatur’. The steady beat and rapid notes showed how precise and demanding this song was, and showed off the high standards of VJ Choir’s choral ability.
As the audience erupted into applause, the Masters of Ceremonies introduced the final three songs for the night: ‘Double, Double Toil and Trouble’, ‘The Goslings’ and ‘The Mermaid’. As the choir sang and chanted, a pair of witches and a wizard concocted their evil potion in a huge black cauldron on stage. ‘The Goslings’ was particularly interesting as the lyrics were composed in a story-like manner and rich with dialogue. In order to accentuate the storyline, some members acted out a skit to this song, bringing the song to life. ‘The Mermaid’ was also complemented by a skit, this time with the characters having solo parts to enhance the story-telling. Brimming with life and energy, these three songs brought out another side to VJ Choir, in its ability to tell a story so vividly in just voice and action.
Last but not least, the choir sang a rendition of the 1982 hit ‘Africa’ by ToTo. Coupled with carefully choreographed dance moves, the choir moved to the beat of the bongo drums and ended off the show in high spirits. As the choir prepared to take its final bow, shouts from the audience for an ‘encore’ performance were heard.
Obligingly, the choir went into respective positions and the all-too-familiar lyrics “nants ingonyama bagithi baba” rang out, sung by a female soloist. The audience immediately recognised it as the iconic song ‘Circle Of Life’ from the movie The Lion King. In their deliberately crafted dance moves and formations, complemented by animal-like sounds, the choir once again swept the audience away with the world they had so powerfully created, one of a jungle bursting with life.
As per tradition, the choir ended the concert with the VJ Choir anthem ‘No Man Is An Island’. This heartwarming piece was a bittersweet end to the concert, being the last song the J2s would be singing with the choir together as one.
Speaking to Dayne Taniajura, the Vice-President of VJ Choir, she reflected that this year’s Symphony of Voices was colourful and vibrant, filled with movement and energy, and showcased the boundless spirit unique to VJ Choir. However, this performance was also not without its difficulties, as she acknowledged that the coordination of the lively choreography did not always go smoothly and the various instruments and props brought onstage called for even more coordination and effort.
A J1 Choir member also described the concert as “phenomenal” and shared the same sentiment as Dayne, agreeing that the months of hard work were worth it for the final product.
No doubt, the concert was a success, with the choir showing once again their versatility and skill in choral music. It was safe to say that their months of hard work had definitely paid off. Thank you VJ Choir, for the wonderful performance put up!
Val Guo Liyun, 18A12
Lin Hui Xin Tiffany, 18S55