Singing from the heart
> This year, The Canticle Singers go back to basics to deliver a show focused purely on the music and featuring fresh local talents
THOSE who caught The Canticle Singers’ (TCS) Encore performance last year were blown away by how the choir, accompanied by guest soloists and dancers, belted out a variety of songs ranging from show tunes and popular evergreen favourites.
This year, The Canticle Singers return with Music of Your Life, featuring a total of 18 songs.
During an interview recently, founder and music director H.K. Chong said: “Basically, a lot of the songs are reflections of life, whether they are fictitious or real.
“The theme song, Music of Your Life, explains that the issues and problems we face are all part of life. You just have to listen, accept them and work around that.”
The song was orginally written in 1998 by the Broadway duo of composer Zina Goldrich and lyricist Marcy Heisler.
“We have sung a number of their songs [before],” Chong added. “They are thoughtful, provocative and down-to-earth. Not many people write songs like that.
“We have taken it as our theme and it will be performed as a solo by one of our singers.”
Chong added that most of their performances are a mix of song genres, because they cater to a wide audience.
“There are happy songs and sad songs. We find that it works well for [any] audience.”
Last year, there were guest soloists who sang opera and jazz numbers. There were also dancers on stage accompanying the singers.
But Chong said they decided to scale down their production this time.
“We have 18 singers who will do solos as well as small group numbers,” he said, adding that the line-up will change depending on who is available.
“We do have a core group of people. Some have been with us since 2004.”
Choir master Melvyn Lau, who has been a part of TCS since 2016, said: “I wouldn’t view myself as a traditional, strict choral master.
“The way TCS works is that [the singers] tend to self-direct. I just give them the keys to [do so].”
Lau explained that he does not stand in front of the chorus, but instead give them cues and then blends into the group.
“TCS focuses strongly on the chorus itself,” he said. “It is up to each individual singer to develop [his/her] own impetus and [make hid/her own decisions].
“The rehearsals are less about telling the singers what to do, but instead [are about giving] the singers the tools that they need for their performance.”
One of the new performers in the TCS choir is Shaun Chen, whom Chong approached and personally invited to join Music of Your Life.
Chen is a talented first-year student at the International College of Music (ICOM), and will soon be heading off to Berkeley College in Boston under a music scholarship.
“The journey preparing for the concert has been fun. I have learned a lot,” said Chen, who added that he has no issues singing ‘old’ songs.
“Growing up, my parents exposed me to all kinds of music. I used to watch films like The Sound of Music and Oliver!. I love singing older songs like show tunes and classics.”
The Music of Your Life performance by The Canticle Singers is happening on Oct 28 and 29 at 8pm at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC)’s Black Box.
For more, visit DPAC website.
(left) United in a love for music ... (from left) Lau, Chen and Chong.
(below) The Canticle Singers at last year’s show.