Student voice 23 Jun 2022

International Festival Chorus

By Cindy Toh, grade 10 student
Photograph by Cindy Toh, grade 10 student

As a tenor trombonist and brass section leader for CIS’s symphonic band, I can say for certain that the best part about being a musician is meeting new people and developing a newfound perspective from them. My most recent performance with the International Festival Chorus was one in which my horizons expanded.

The International Festival Chorus (IFC) is a choir with a diverse group of people who enjoy choral singing. It provides a space for musicians from all around the world to feel a sense of belonging. A select few CIS musicians and I (Cindy Toh, a trombonist from the class of 2024) performed with the IFC at a concert held on Sunday 22nd May, 2022 at Victoria Concert Hall of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. We played Oye Como Va, a 1962 cha-cha-chá (a type of Cuban music) piece by Tito Puente that was popularised by the American rock group Santana for their album Abraxas.

I was honoured to have performed with incredible musicians in that performance: Evan X., a CIS alumnus and current 3rd-year student at the National University of Singapore’s Yong Siew Toh Conservatory who plays the clarinet; Mindy H., a guiro player and 2022 CIS graduate; Neil V., a guitarist and recent CIS graduate; Max D., a guitarist from the graduating Class of 2022; and Abby C., a bongo player from the Class of 2023.

Given that two distinct choirs joined forces to put on a performance, there was a dress rehearsal on the day prior to the day of the performance, in which CIS students and those in the choir were able to learn about each other and immerse ourselves in the art of making music. More specifically, we immersed ourselves into the art of combining the best of two distinct ensembles into an even more magnificent performance.

This magnificent performance entailed a full slate of songs from the choir, with Oye Como Va being performed in the middle of the program. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, given how packed the auditorium was. But I will say that all I remember was playing my part as I listened intently to Evan, who shared my part, and hearing a roar of applause from the audience once our conductor (and Symphonic Band director), Mr. Tom Anderson, signaled the end of the performance. This is a moment that I will never forget and one that I intend to carry forward in performances to come.

But beyond the masterpiece that my fellow CIS students, the choir, Mr. Anderson, and I were able to produce, I will always remember what an honour and privilege it is to perform with incredible musicians, learn about their cultures through the power of music, and tell the intrinsically powerful stories that bind us through the pieces we perform. And it is this honour and privilege that propel me and many others to continue to share our love for music with the world.