The Music Society of UNMC organized its 9th annual Choir and Chamber Music Orchestra (CCMO) on the 5th and 6th of March 2018. I attended the second performance on the 6th of March at the Great Hall. Themed “Enchanted”, this year’s performance featured a repertoire of classic tracks from Disney animations, video games, anime and more. A throwback to our childhood and teenage memories, “Enchanted” was a befitting theme, for it served to instil or even revive the long-lost sense of magic in our hearts.
The event began with the choir’s performance of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star + The Second Star To The Right”. It served as a brief warm-up piece for the ensuing choral performance, which was a rendition of Erik Esenvalds’ “Stars”. The ethereal quality of the song was enhanced by the orchestra members’ use of glass sound effects.
Two medleys from popular Disney animations “The Little Mermaid” and “Mulan” were next to be showcased. As such, the audience was treated to a selection of well-known tracks from our childhood, ranging from “Under The Sea”, “Part of Your World”, “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” and “Reflection”. Clips from the animations were displayed on an accompanying projector, adding to the sense of nostalgia and sentimentality to the atmosphere.
However, the choral singing in “Part of Your World” was rather overpowering in contrast to the solo vocal parts, resulting in a muddy mixture of voices. Also, the snare drums in “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” were a bit loud and thus distracts from the choir’s singing.
Medleys from popular animes “Sword Art Online” and “Your Name” were featured, much to the delight and awe of the audience. At times wistful and at times triumphant, the stirring melodies make for a pleasant auditory experience. Soundtracks from award-winning video games “Undertale” and “Ori and The Blind Forest” were also conducted by the orchestra, transporting the audience to the fantasy realms inhabited by the characters of these video games. In addition, other Japanese tunes such as “Sakura No Shiori” by AKB48 and “Kaze No Toorimichi” from the Studio Ghibli production “My Neighbour Totoro” were included.
One of the highlights of the night was a performance of two songs from the classic animated film “The Prince of Egypt”, which were “Deliver Us” and “When You Believe”. Being a huge fan of the film and the original soundtrack, I was ecstatic when I realized that both songs were included in the repertoire.
Although I would personally prefer if “Deliver Us” was sung in unison with the orchestra, it was still a good attempt delivered (pun intended) by the choir to tackle this passionate piece. However, I found the choir’s singing of “When You Believe” to be one of the best performances of the night. A tune that promised hope and light, the inclusion of the bridge sung in Hebrew tinged the song with a layer of childlike innocence.
The last song to be played was “The Prayer”, a duet originally performed by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli and which appeared in the 1998 animated film “Quest for Camelot”. Featuring lyrics written in both English and Italian, “The Prayer” is a timeless and moving piece that was given a mesmerizing rendition by the choir and the orchestra. However, the audience was not satisfied and cried for more. Therefore, as an encore, the uplifting “A Million Dreams” from the 2017 Hollywood musical “The Greatest Showman” was performed by both the orchestra and the choir, injecting a sense of hope among the audience members.
It was then at this moment that CCMO finally came to a wholesome conclusion. The night ended with a resounding applause and deafening cheers by the audience. As the emcee Justin eloquently put it, “Music is the key to the memories of our soul”, the music of CCMO 2018 made us recollect those bittersweet moments that formed part and parcel of growing up.
By Chen May
Photos by Malik Hisyam