On 20 April 2017, Hwa Chong Chinese Orchestra amazed the panel of judges at the Singapore Youth Festival with a remarkable display of harmony and technique in their performance. They have been awarded the Certificate of Distinction. To find out the factors underpinning their success, the Students’ Council set out to interview their President, Nicholas Lim Jing Wei.
1) What struggles did HCCO face in preparation for your SYF?
One main problem was the size of the orchestra. Unlike in Secondary School where there are 4 years of students to produce an orchestra of a relatively large size (70-100 members), most Junior College Chinese Orchestras have only 40-60 members. This limits the range of pieces and the musical effects that can be produced by an orchestra. To overcome this, we recruited non-HCCO members who had previous experience playing for a Chinese Orchestra, allowing us to compete in the SYF with 67 performers. However, this produced another problem. As non-HCCO members, they had their own CCA commitments, and some were not able to participate in a significant number of practices. This proved to be an obstacle in our mastery of the 2 SYF pieces. However, with additional practices and the commitment of all our performers, we were able to overcome this obstacle.
The fact that so many non-members were willing to help us out commit the extra time to practising our pieces despite their other already heavy CCA commitments is a testament to the Hwa Chong spirit, where no Hwa Chongian ever turns down another Hwa Chongian who needs help.
2) How did you, as a CCA, overcome the stress that arose from having to juggle between academics and SYF preparation?
Our CCA room was always well-stocked with snacks that our members can grab anytime, and snacking proved to be an excellent way to release stress! Furthermore, we provided dinner service as our practices tended to end rather late. Eating together was an excellent way to destress and bond at the same time!
3) Who would you like to thank for this journey?
To HCCO members, thank you for journeying with me for this past 1.5 years. Through the many ups and downs, we have come out stronger and more accomplished than before. Even as we graduate from Junior College, HCCO will always be our family.
To Dr Tan Mei Leng, Mr Augustine Wong and Mr Wong Yan Hao, it’s been a pleasure working with all of you for the past year. On behalf of the ExCo and HCCO, I would like to express gratitude for all the hard work, time and advice from you! We believe that under your guidance, HCCO will continue to shine and stand strong!
To all our instructors, thank you for always pushing the orchestra to work hard and achieve greater things. Without all of your advice, wisdom and knowledge, the orchestra would not have been what it is today! HCCO will always be grateful for all your support and guidance!!