Concert Review: Viva Vox V – The Living Voice by the SAJC Saints Chorale, 12 May 2014 @ SAJC Cultural Centre

There is something magical watching Mr. Nelson Kwei conducting the Saints Chorale of St. Andrew’s Junior College this Monday evening. He seemed to draw out the spirits of these young people, making them sing the glories of God, and bringing the audience to the heavenly realms. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them sing Ave Maria No. 3 by Vytautas Miškinis. In all honesty, this is the first time I have seen Mr. Kwei conducting, even though I have heard much about him during my NAFA days and after that.

For such beautiful music and voices, it was, however, let down by the physical structure of the Cultural Centre. The voices were not resounded around the hall hence seemingly mediocre, which was quite obvious during the songs conducted by Mr. Kwei’s student, Mr. Foong Hak Luen. I am not saying that Mr. Foong did not do a good job. He was and is, just that the performing venue was simply not doing justice to these incredible teenage voices. It was just mediocre. At my next opportunity, I shall get myself a ticket to watch them at the Esplanade Concert Hall. I am sure I will enjoy listening to them there than here.

One entertaining piece was Cui Dong Cui, a Chinese piece that depicts courtship. The music was lovely, but what made it even better was the choreography that accompanied the song, by their own chorister, using fans for the boys and handkerchiefs for the girls. I liked the ending where the girls seemingly rejected her suitor by slapping him. Lol! However, it seemed that the choir was not comfortable doing those actions. Perhaps it was a lack of practice?

The alumni choir also put on 3 pieces. Sadly, due to commitments of serving the nations or out at school, their were only ten of these young adults present, and only 1 girl in their midst. Because of this reason, their songs were quite lacking in density and texture. I mean, with only one soprano, and nine other lower voices, the balance was definitely not there! Still, they tried their best and put on a brave front.

What probably stole the show were the two pop medley songs done alashow-choir. The first was a Beatles medley arranged by Ed Lojeski with songs like ‘Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da’, ‘Penny Lane’, and ‘When I’m Sixty-four’, which got my mother humming along. The finale was a Disney’s Frozen medley, arranged by their own choir member Shen Qian Jian with advice from their Music Teacher Ms Ng Shau Ching. Much applause must be given to this youngster for putting together the songs from this famous and beloved animated film without killing it. I enjoyed ‘Eatneman Vuelie’ where there was a human surround sound; the girls came to stand in the aisles with the audience to provide accompaniment while the boys remained on stage to sing the main part. The rest of the numbers like ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman?’, ‘In Summer’, and ‘Let It Go’ brought more life to the evening.

So, kudos to these amazing youngsters who sang their hearts out for their family and friends.

It is just that horribly poor and acoustic-less hall…

And their overly enthusiastic and supportive schoolmates that screamed out the choristers’ names whenever chance they could.

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