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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mostly Margutti: thoughts on being a chorister + Recent OTDs

this is a rare entry: there's actually more text than pictures!

i get quite a few reactions whenever i mention that i'm heading off for a rehearsal, or when i mention that i sing in a choir. the most common question posed is probably something like, "oh, do you sing in a church choir?"

it's probably pretty rare in Singapore to hear of adults singing in a non-profit, community choir purely out of the love for music, but that's what we do in the SYC Ensemble Singers (i know, it's rather a mouthful) which started out as the Singapore Youth Choir many years ago, but we've now ditched the "Youth Choir" part to the abbreviation SYC, because.. heh, a huge majority of the choristers are now no longer youths! :P er hem. including me of course =.=
so we spend an evening and an afternoon every week, braving our way through sheets of music, mostly contemporary, challenging works from living composers.

and no, we don't just sing sterile sounding church hymns (which is another common misconception) 
we also tour regularly abroad (in the past 4 years, i've been to Manado, Japan, Italy and Poland) and i am super looking forward to this year's trip: we're heading to Torino, Italy in July for an international Atelier (workshop) and it sounds like it's going to be SUPER exciting!
one of the most highly respected figures in the choral scene, also our conductor Jen. to the unknowing, a conductor's job may look like its simply easy waving of the hands, but it rarely is, anything but guiding the soul and heartbeat of the music with precise gestures, expressions and body language. this art is so subtle, i doubt anyone can profess to master it, but i'd say we're doing a pretty amazing job with Jen spearheading us :)

how did i chance upon the SYC? i remembered having watched a concert years back when i was in secondary school, and although i had no impression of the concert at all, when i thought of a choir i could join, the SYC was the first to come to mind. and so i googled for an email address, sent in an email, said a silent prayer and kept my fingers crossed.

when i joined the SYC, i had no friends. i simply joined because i missed choral singing so much, having done it for close to 8 years of my school life (yes... i am a geek!! i joined the choir in primary school, followed by secondary school!) my school choirs were nothing spectacular, in fact, i think they were pretty crappy. haha! but if you've ever sang in a school choir before, you know how it feels like. making music together is a joy.

and now, this joy is amplified on so many more levels when being a part of the SYC :) the people in there are amazingly talented and musically gifted, i was so worried that i wouldn't even be able to cope with the insanely quick pace and ungraspable music. it's crazy!

the best analogy would probably be something like being thrown into the sea and not knowing how to swim. i can barely sight-read for nuts, i've had no prior music training and it takes me about 10 seconds to figure out what note is printed on my score (counting upwards from Middle C or downwards from High C) -____- i've never been in a choir that sight-sang a piece after immediately picking up the score and plonking a note on the piano. almost started panicking then and there.

for some reason, i persevered on with the music that sounded so strange and incomprehensible to my ears, showing up for rehearsals twice a week, and as time passed, week after week, rehearsal after rehearsal, my ears started to make sense of the music, my eyes started to understand those foreign gestures and it was the most glorious sensation, of proper, music-making. 

it wasn't just me trying to persevere on, i'm sure the choir was trying to persevere in the act of having taken me in too! we had some difficult moments, just like in every relationship, when both parties (myself and the choir) had doubts and uncertainties about each other. 

but they persevered. i persevered. WE persevered. and then magic happened, and somehow, everything just fell right into place, and i am eternally grateful for that.

it's not just about the singing: being in the SYC has completed my life in such unfathomable ways. i found lifelong friends, companions, buddies. (my three amazing girls!) i travelled and took 18 hour plane rides to satisfy my wanderlust. i sang with other beautiful voices to captivated audiences in Italy, in Poland, to standing ovations, from the cold seasides to fantastically gorgeous churches. i experienced so much, got to meet like-minded individuals from all over, all bonded together by this common love of singing, of music.

i was privileged to sing the compositions of gifted composers, even more privileged to meet and have those very composers take the choir under their wing to create stupendously astounding music.

Mostly Margutti was performed at SOTA last week, and it was an intensely thrilling and tiring experience all at the same time! we had almost daily rehearsals leading up to the concert, with the amazing composer Margutti himself. being under a new conductor is always awkward and shy at the beginning, but we soon warmed up to cries of "Seigneur!" "Domine!" "De Profundis!" "Aurora!" be it French, Latin or German, we are unstoppable, we are invincible. (even if it comes out sounding like Singlish.. oops.)

the stage lights go on, and we are no longer individuals, but one body of sound, dissonances blending into perfect fifths. we soar into the heavenly kingdoms with sincere, heartfelt prayers, then plunge into the murky depths of darkness and despair. and when the stage lights dim to a hushed silence followed by thundering applause, gratitude. and joy.

together, we flaunt off our shiny big foreheads. just for you, SYC.
in a flurry of making-up: the redder the lipstick, THE BETTER.
two of the precious friends, made for life.
the ritualistic act of making-up: we draw our concert faces on the same way we prepare our souls and hearts for music-making. 
:D music making buddies
Marissa and i (:
Huijun, Fish and spot the Angela
scary faces!!!

 and post-concert! newfound friends from the Margutti Atelier choir. we are always happy to make new friends :D
even happier to eat, eat, eat!
cheers to a smashing concert and post-concert supper!
now this is what i call communal dining :D
the man himself: Corrado Margutti! he is oh so charming and his voice will melt your soul.
expect the unexpected, serenading and crooning to unsuspecting passerbys and fellow supper-ers
the girls who are always there for me ❤ 

so yes. i figured i owe the SYC one blog entry, after 4 years of being in the choir. hahaha. even if you, my dear reader, may not really be so interested in this aspect of my life. i would write more, because i feel like i've barely touched base with this already wordy post. but some things just can't be expressed with mere permutations and combinations of just twenty-six letters.

thank you for having me, SYC.

PS. fresh blood always welcome! you can email in to :D


okay, sorry for boring out those who have absolutely no interest in my choir life. heh :P

something of the usual: outfit photos! this time round with the Cambridge Satchel in Burgundy, 13" :D this size is awesome but doesn't fit much more than a wallet, phone, small camera and small miscellaneous items!

first outfit: a lace top with Candy Empire HWS in Smurf Blue ;D i think the burgundy really holds the outfit together, cos the mint + smurf blue combi would look rather boring on its own!

the lace top is currently in the process of being manufactured for TVD, teehee. we made some changes though, such as adding an inner lining cos it's see through D: and the Denim Empire shorts are gonna be restocked for S100's collection in light and dark wash! :D

2nd outfit! oohhhh i am so in love with the new maxi skirt that's gonna be in S100 too!! matched it with a floral bralet from Topshop that has lovely prints ❤ the skirt is madly comfy and so flattering! probably gonna keep it in at least two colors :D i love how maxis elongate and slim the silhouette!

super excited for S100. planning in progress!!! fingers crossed for an A-MA-ZING collection!!! :)

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