Armed with umbrellas and snacks, people were getting off at Botanic Gardens Station on a chilly Saturday, ready to be serenaded by the VCA symphonic band performance at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. It was quite a demanding walk from the MRT to the venue; however the thought of having a fun picnic with friends and enjoying the band perform (for free!) definitely seemed to have made the distance feel shorter.
Upon arrival at the venue, one would notice a variety of picnic mats strewn across the grass, of all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns. It was truly a unique sight for a concert setting, with most school concerts taking place in more formal venues such as concert halls and performance theaters. There was something about the Gardens that made the concert have distinctively cozy and open feel to it. The evening was graced by the lovely crowd that was there to watch the performance, despite the ominous rolls of thunder and the great grey clouds.
The event officially started with the two emcees introducing the performance line up. People were still slowly strolling into the venue and picking their spots as the emcees spoke on. Soon, applause and loud cheers were heard when the first band was introduced.
It was Victoria School’s Band. When the applause ended, their performance begun immediately. Their set list comprised Hymn to the Sun, In Swing and Abba Gold. The more popular songs such as Abba Gold (a medley of songs from the popular Swedish band Abba) were surely hits with the audience as there were many people mouthing or even singing along the words to the song, treating it as an karaoke session. The older audience especially enjoyed this performance as these songs, dating back to the Seventies, were definitely a throwback to their younger days.
Amidst all the fun however, it started to rain. Umbrellas were immediately whipped out by those who had planned for the weather. However those who forgot to bring it did not have to worry, as those in the audience willingly shared their umbrellas, even with strangers. It was truly a heart-warming sight and an excellent demonstration of the Victorian Spirit in action, and we as reporters certainly felt a great deal of pride watching as Victorians did not hesitate to lend a helping hand to their fellow audience members. It was a sight that would make any Victorian proud.
And while the rain dampened the grass, it certainly didn’t dampen the audience’s spirit as people were still enthusiastically cheering for their friends and grooving with every song. When their performance ended, loud “WOO”s and other cheers reverberated throughout indicating that it was indeed a success. When interviewed, a former Victorian said, “The band did so well today and I’m so proud of them and how far they have come!”
After the stellar performance by the VS band that really hyped up the audience, a sea of blue — the Cedar Symphonic Band — took the stage. Their set list comprised of songs such as Memories of Friendship, Sunny Island (ironic given the weather?), Ascentium and Disco Lives. Their songs were acted as a tribute to the disco era with popular tunes such as the YMCA anthem being incorporated into their Disco Lives performance, their star performance of the evening. Some were notably seen busting out some classic dance moves while the band played, and put up a performance of their own.
Last but definitely not the least was the very much anticipated VJCSB, our very own symphonic band. If hearing them play the national anthem and school song on Fridays already amazes you, this performance would have surely blown you away. Their setlist consisted of a spectacular arrangement with a wide variety of songs: May You Achieve Happiness (Semoga Bahagia), Escape Velocity, “Uptown Funk It Off”, a Legend of Zelda medley and Hey Soul Sister/Just The Way You Are. Clad in the familiar highlighter-yellow Fired Up tees, there was thunderous applause (perhaps complementary to the rain) when they took the stage.
A band member we interviewed prior to the concert had said that one of the highlights of the performance was “Uptown Funk It Off” as it was the funnest piece they were performing before going on to add ‘but all of them are great!’ We had to agree. The mashup was perhaps THE performance of the evening. Not only was it a mashup of some of the top hits of the recent years, it was coupled with antics such as shouting “VJCSB” to the tune of Shake It Off (with strikingly colourful signs to match) alongside the appearance of silver and gold pom poms. The audience were truly wowed.
The last song of the night, “Hey Soul Sister/Just The Way You Are”, was jointly performed by the VJCSB and members from the Cedar and VS band. At the end of it, people were screaming “encore, encore!” This fortunately did not fall on deaf ears as some members broke out in a short performance for the enthusiastic audience. But this time, sadly, the concert finally came to an end.
The evening flew by so fast and sitting on the grass listening to the band play made us feel like nothing else in the world mattered — until of course the students who came had to go home and complete homework and for some unfortunate J1s, their PI. That said, I am sure that all who were there can agree that the warm feeling experienced during this musical evening (both metaphorically and literally) was something special. Despite the unfortunate arrival of the rain, the band members pulled together and presented a splendid show. As fittingly said by Mr Lian, a member of the audience there to support his Secondary 4 son, “The fact that the band members braved the rain, the elements and their spirit of togetherness along with their teamwork is what I find outstanding.”
After the brilliant performance at the Botanic Gardens, we can definitely look forward to what’s coming up next for band, Limelight and SYF!
Tan Suan Kai, 17S49
Yordan Yit, 16S63