Arts 29 Jan 2024

The Unseen Maestros of Musical Theater

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

In musical theatre where actors take centre stage, there exists a hidden symphony that’s often in the shadows – the pit band. These musicians behind the curtains create the heartbeat of the show with their skillful accompaniment, adding depth to every emotion, dialogue, and dance number.

In this behind-the-scenes feature, we turn the spotlight to Haotian W., Arjun B. and Lucas J., three members of ‘The Addams Family’ musical’s pit band where we will explore their experience playing in a band and achievements in music.


Grade 12 Violinist Haotian W.

A gifted violinist and solo artist in nature, Haotian’s passion for music has propelled him to great heights from winning gold awards since 2017, and recently last year at the Singapore International Solo Competition, to receiving a coveted offer from Royal Academy of Music (#3 performing arts school), one of the top performing arts institutions in the world.

At CIS, Haotian had to break out of his usual routine and take on new challenges. While he typically performs solo or with a string ensemble, his invitation to ‘The Addams Family’ musical introduced him to a whole new scene. He teamed up with a pop band and played alongside instruments such as the flute, piccolo, and saxophone. He says, “The most interesting thing for me is playing with instruments that I have never played with before. At the beginning, I couldn't even imagine how it would work.”

Haotian appreciates the opportunities provided by CIS to showcase his talents on stage and enhance his musical skills. He has participated in various performances in school, including PYP students' performances in MYP, classroom performances, four recital performances in DP, and performances during Spring Festival and UN week.

His advice to fellow musicians is to not pass up any chances to perform and to not be afraid of performing. “No performance will be perfect, even if there are no technical mistakes, there will be musical mistakes, so prepare perfectly for each performance, and when the real performance begins, just enjoy the music,” he shares.

Arjun B.

Grade 11 Drummer Arjun B.

A standout in the band is Arjun—one of the handful of drummers at CIS who's all about getting out there and seizing every opportunity. He has ventured both inside and outside of school to improve his skills as a musician.

On top of taking part in school musicals and performances that have given him a platform to showcase himself, last summer, Arjun decided to attend the Berklee School of Music summer programme to meet like-minded music enthusiasts who share his passion and talent. His time at Berklee wasn’t just a jam session; he gained insights that broadened his musical horizons, enabling him to connect his primary instrument to music he can both hear and feel. Summing it up, he says, “There was a lot that I did learn in Berklee, and exposing myself more to the music industry was the fastest way to improve.”

Balancing passion and academics is always a challenge. Arjun wanted to join a pit band since grade 10, but the academic pressures had him on the fence. It was his design teacher, Arjun's mentor, who persuaded him to take the plunge.

Turns out, it was all worth it — Arjun says, “the most enjoyable thing was having fun in a band setting while playing music and the rush of energy that you feel when you’re performing for an audience.” And let's not forget those funny moments from the show and rehearsals. Arjun recalls a memory from The Addams Family musical of how funny the actors on stage can be while they’re not playing any music. It just goes to show, music really sets the stage!

Lucas J.

Grade 12 Keyboardist Lucas J.

Getting a diploma even before graduation? Lucas, who holds a Trinity’s Licentiate music performance diploma with distinction, is incredible at what he does, well beyond mere passion. His secret? Lots of practice!

“You never know what will go wrong during your performance. Always be extra prepared. If you think you are at around 100%, aim for that 120%,” says Lucas. And that's how he clinched runner-up awards in global and local competitions, most recently scoring 3rd place at the 2023 Music Singapore International Piano and Violin Competition.

The annual secondary musical is the highlight of the entire year’s productions. Inspired by last year’s “School of Rock” musical, Lucas joined “The Addams Family” pit band. The experience turned out to be fulfilling for him when he realised that every single band member shared the same goal—delivering the pieces with their utmost abilities to showcase their passion for music. He said, “This feeling of us all being in unison and me knowing that everyone in the pit is enjoying what they are doing is incredibly rare to witness and I am very grateful to have been a part of something so special.”

From performing in the Concert Band, later in the Symphonic Band, to participating in the Senior Choir as an accompanist, and benefiting from the DP music course’s performance opportunities, he credits CIS for playing a crucial role in improving his musicianship.

Well done to all the pit band members of ‘The Addams Family’ musical! Your talents took the musical to new heights and we’re so proud of your achievements.