Overseas Cultural Immersion, Choir, China
The Dunman High School Choir went for a 9-day cultural immersion trip to Hangzhou and Hong Kong from 26 November 2014 to 5 December 2014. The trip was a memorable experience that challenged choristers to step out of their comfort zones in exploring different cultures, meeting new people and overcoming adversities.
For the first five days, the Choir visited Hangzhou for academic immersion and cultural exchange. Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang in Eastern China, known for its economic vibrancy and rich heritage. In Hangzhou, choristers visited Linping Middle School (杭州临平三中) for 2 days of academic immersion. Throughout the immersion, Choristers sat in lessons and gained a unique experience of learning subjects conventionally taught in English in Singapore now taught in Chinese. Also, the Choir had a choral exchange with Linping Middle School’s Choir, where both Choirs shared with each other their repertoires and their choral techniques. Choristers also got to make many new friends with their buddies, students from their attached class and members of the school’s Choir. The immersion was enriching and fulfilling, allowing choristers to gain a better understanding of the cultural differences between Singapore and China, appreciating the differences and similarities between our ways of life and education systems. Next, the Choir also visited Hangzhou Arts School for a choral exchange – one of the biggest pre-university arts schools in the country. Through the exchange, the Choir had experienced first-hand the extent of discipline and determination these students needed to perfect their skills.
Furthermore, choristers were immersed into the world of Chinese culture. They visited famous sights in Hangzhou, such as West Lake (西湖) and Qinghefang Street (清和方街). To understand more about Chinese history, Choristers visited the Yuefei Temple, Zhejiang University and Song Dynasty City. This had allowed them to understand more about the Chinese culture through immersing themselves in local way of life, while appreciating Chinese history as they learn about Chinese history from the preserved monuments.
Choristers then proceeded to Hong Kong, a cosmopolitan city that bustles with life and vibrancy. In Hong Kong, the Dunman High School Choir participated in the 5th Winter Choral Festival under two categories – Category B2 (Mixed Voices) and the Category C (Folklore). The Choir sang a wide range of repertoire ranging from folk songs, such as Katakataka from the Philippines, to classic chamber works, such as O Magnum Mysterium by Tomas Victoria. In the weeks leading up to the trip, the Choir was stretched and challenged with intensive practices to refine their choral techniques and musicality for the diverse and challenging repertoire. Guided by Ms Jennifer Tham, the Dunman High School Choir managed to clinch the Gold Award in both categories – an excellent result all choristers are proud of.
As part of the Winter Choral Festival, choristers had the rare opportunity to have a masterclass by Bulgarian choral conductor Professor Theodora Pavlovitch, who taught the Choir the history of music and rhythms, while guiding the Choir through the learning of Eastern European folk music. The unique experience of understanding musical cultures far away from home gave choristers new perspectives and novel ideas that challenged choristers out of their comfort zone. The Choir also had a night of fun at the Friendship Concert, where all participants of the festival mingled over dinner and performed for one another. In a joyous night of fun and laughter, many new friendships were forged between Dunman High choristers and our like-minded counterparts who come from all over the world.
To conclude the trip, the Dunman High School Choir enjoyed a fun-filled day of amazement at Hong Kong Disneyland. Choristers shared tons of laughter and joy touring around the magical theme park and taking the amusement rides throughout the day, bonding with one another. Furthermore, the Choir was given the amazing opportunity of Christmas carolling at Disneyland. With big smiles and full hearts, the Choir dazzled and entertained visitors from all over the world with popular Christmas carols, such as Deck The Halls and We Wish You A Merry Christmas, led by the Choir’s Student Conductors.
The Choir would like to thank our teachers-in-charge – Mrs Lee-Ng Yu Rui, Mr Adrian Ong and Ms Niki Lee, whose unwavering care and guidance have made this trip possible. The Choir would also like to thank our conductors – Ms Jennifer Tham and Mr Albert Tay, whose tireless efforts and strokes of musical genius have groomed the Choir to what it is today. The Dunman High School Choir has indeed benefitted greatly from this trip.
I think that my experiences in Hang Zhou and Hong Kong were different. I feel that the learning journey in Hang Zhou helped me to learn more about Chinese Culture and also about the lives of people in China. In my opinion, the learning journey in Hong Kong allowed me to notice the differences between Hong Kong and the rest of China, for example the difference in language spoken.
14Y2F Tay Tze Jun