Recently I found a “stay young” secret – attending the Choir and Chamber Music Orchestra, themed “Childhood” on the 1st and 2nd of March 2017. When entering the Great Hall, the Ferris Wheel and hanging paper planes enthralled my attention as they rekindled my childhood memories. Every year, CCMO proves to be the biggest event for UNMC’s Music Society, as every committee comes together to showcase their professional talents and indulge their passion in music.
With the combination of the orchestra and the choir, the music journey started with Ecce homo qui est faba, best known as the theme song to the original Mr. Bean live action series. Conducted by Leong Min Yang, it brought the audience into the perfect mood for a night of throwbacks. Proceeding to a medley of music from the Japanese anime series “Detective Conan”, the orchestra’s performance struck my heart because it created the images of when Conan was discovering the truth and the plot twists that he encountered. The closing of Detective Conan Medley became more gradually eruptive as the sound of the strings and drums blended magnificently and produced a rousing march.
As a Potterhead myself, I was impressed by the Harry Potter medley as it evoked scenes of the movie series, especially Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I felt a tingling sensation during the incorporation of tambourine, while its beats were played with ‘crescendo’ (‘getting louder’) and ‘allegro moderato’ (‘moderately fast’), as if they were creepy footsteps. Eventually, its rhythm truly whetted my appetite of being a wizard or witch, living in a magical world. Then, led by Khaw Yee Jian, the choir gave an alluring performance of “Disney Princess Medley”. There was continuous cheering during the singing of eight pairs of chorists, evoking characters like Aladdin and Jasmine, and also Prince Charming and Cinderella. The lovely atmosphere conjured the audience’s imagination of falling in love with their ideal prince and princess.
Leaving their formal attire backstage, the choir emerged from the stage in casual tees and denim jackets then with full vigour, and starting their performance on three love songs. Their arrangements were cleverly planned; as if setting the audiences up for a time travelling experience, they first threw us back to the 60s with the one and only Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. The beat gradually increased and we were transported to the 90s with ‘As Long As You Love Me‘, by the Backstreet Boys. Lastly with the robust rhythm and youthful apparel, the team choreographed a rendition of ‘Uptown Girl,’ with the ‘downtown boys’ singing to their ‘uptown girls’ onstage.
Another unforgettable performance by the choir is the Cartoon Medley. The title of the medley gives it all. When the choir shouted the iconic phrase ‘Are you ready, kids?’ I bet we all found ourselves smiling and soon enough reminiscing the memories of ‘those days’ sitting in front of our square television sets. Theme songs from The Powerpuff Girls, Little Einsteins, Kim Possible, Teen Titans and Phineas and Ferb brought us down memory lane. The altos and sopranos harmonised perfectly while some hummed the background music to make it realistic. The audiences lived up to expectations too as they sang along to the songs only the nineties kids know. It felt like a secret we share; a common joy that reminds us of the good old days, when we were young. And when it ended, a voice shouted from the back asking if there is more. It was a mutual feeling: We. Wanted. More.
Unfortunately, all good things have its end. However, it seemed that MUSSOC had something more in store for the anime supporters. The Orchestra blessed our souls with a medley of music from Pokémon. I personally don’t know much about Pokémon but I know one thing for certain: its fans were shook. The excitement electrified the hall, and as if triggering some important nerves, the lyrics of the theme song started pouring out their mouth. The conductor, Leong Min Yang, took the courtesy to wave his wand at the audience. Surprisingly, the song ended with a throw of Pokéball with a Pikachu above.
Above: The UNMC Orchestra. Below: The UNMC Choir.
To wrap the night, the choir and orchestra team merged to stage a beautiful piece — Time to Say Goodbye, but what we thought was the last song became penultimate. Before the emcee could end his closing speech, he was cut off by the crowds’ demand for an encore – and so it was, an encore. Exiting the hall later, the sweet melody of every recital was still buzzing in our mind. Everyone left with a satisfied smile, feeling rejuvenated and young once again. Someday, if we were to look back to this day, we might not remember the exact song or element that made us feel young, but I think we will not forget the genuine passion and effort all the musicians held in their eyes.
By Joann Chua Rou En and Shizen Wong
Photos by Zamir Zainal