SCS goes Taiwan: The Asian Cities Choral Exchange Experience

A blog post by SCS member Hsin Ching

If you find the following too long-winded or confusing, don’t worry, the writer feels equally, if not more, lost upon re-reading. Please scroll to the end for a summary of the text, in convenient point form. As all A-level Literature students eventually find out, who really needs to read the original text when you have point-y notes?!

Apologies for the writing style, I am currently reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and am writing under the influence.

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Long long ago (in this galaxy), when Albert proposed a trip to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to perform, it seemed like a distant, fragile bubble of a fantasy that would never really coalesce into anything remotely concrete. But now as I sit here on new years’ day trying to think of something to write for this ‘SUBTLY’ arrowed assignment (yes, I am referring to this article, to be completely unsubtle) which was due last year (sorry), the reality of our adventure is all too tangible, as evinced by my belly, which now takes up a lot more space in the universe than it did before 19 December 2015.

The process was, as all KAM/SCS adventures usually are, crazy. The sight-reading, hokkien-speaking, speed-learning, late-meeting, note-banging (snack-eating, ape-shrieking, monkey-climbing) chaos of the pre-trip; the people-meeting, consecutive-day-rehearsing, fine (sometimes not so fine)-tuning when we finally met Natus Cantorum (who were as whacky as some members in the SCS); culminating in a memorable, successful concert.

Many of the practices in Kaohsiung saw me blinking daftly and slightly slack-jawed at Tang 老师 and Albert as they conducted practices in Chinese, before turning to my ever helpful partner, Hsin Wen, for a translation. Thank God for her. Even if I may not have understood all instructions, singing each piece through and following each conductor’s gestures usually made things clearish, reminding me of the quote “Where words fail, music speaks”. For a banana like me, this probably encapsulates my entire Kaohsiung rehearsal experience.

And when our music fails, the follow-up, reassuring quote of the trip kicks in: 没关系 (Tang, 2015).

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Ok, let me try to be serious. I thoroughly enjoyed singing with Natus Cantorum. They are a committed (*Editor’s note: Many of them have or are having babies, getting married, engineers, doctors & deans at the highest levels of academia etc.), passionate group of amazing singers who can go from whacky to super focused at the snap of a finger. Each one of them was completely present in the moment when singing, and their musicality, level of responsiveness and ability to process and act on feedback left me extremely impressed and set a high bar for all of us there. It was an absolute pleasure singing with them and I hope the experience in Singapore this December 2016 will be equally enriching and enjoyable for them as it was for us in December 2015.

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Summary of confusing article:
– We went to Kaohsiung, Taiwan to sing with Natus Cantorum in December 2015
– Pre-trip rehearsals were crazy
– Rehearsals with Natus Cantorum were crazier
– All of us left with new friends
– Most of us left with new waistlines
– Some of us were heard to speak more Chinese in the six days than all the days of our life combined
– Some of us left with new names (十七岁, Francesca (Franny) Felicia Teo)
– And one of us left with new understanding of her name.
– This point-form summary is a terribly inaccurate summing-up of the article above, which was the main moral of the story: don’t rely on Cliffnotes to get you through your A-level Literature. You will fail.