Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SFC Choir

My previous post prompted me to write this one. This subject deserves a post on its own.

Bohemian Rhapsody. I have always remembered this song as the legendary winning choir song of my secondary school. I heard we beat Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School in 1998 with this song, breaking their 7-year winning streak in the District Level Choir Competition. St. Francis Convent Secondary has since been branded as "that school with the awesome choir". It's really too bad there were no digital video-recording of their winning performance back then.

The memory is still very vivid to me.

While the choir team was practicing at the school hall, the rest of us having lessons in our classrooms right next to the hall enjoyed listening to them singing, like a background music. They practiced every single day prior to the competition, so much so that the whole school knew the song by heart, even sang along sometimes. Despite having listened to them for such numerous times, we never got tired of it. In fact, it gave us goosebumps every single time they reached the exciting parts of the song, without fail.

On the morning of the Disctrict Level competition, they performed in front of the whole morning-session students, complete with exact routines and costumes. They exuded confidence. We could almost smell it in the air. The entire hall filled with teachers and students was silent (something that didn't usually occur in a hall full of SFC girls). The choir team, smartly dressed in their costumes, walked up the stage in a slow but orderly manner. The conductor came up and signaled a bow to the audience. And then they started to sing...

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a escape from reality.
Open your eyes...Look up to the skies and see.
I'm just a poor boy...I need no sympathy.
Because I'm...
Easy come (Easy go)
Little high (Little low)
Anywhere the wind blows...doesn't really matter to me....
To me....
(Enters piano)

That afternoon, they returned from the competition beaming with bright, smiling faces, and a trophy. They continued to win the Regional and State levels, and went on to compete at the National Level, if I remember correctly, in Kuala Lumpur. I don't think they won the National Level. But I think they still came out pretty well.

The following year after that glorious victory, the choir team became overwhelmingly popular and EVERYONE wanted to join the team. The auditions took several days to complete. I made it into the team as a Tenor in 1999. That year, we sang another piece by Queen - Somebody to Love. I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was a lot better, but we didn't want to sing the same song again, lest we appeared unoriginal.

We came out District Champion again in 1999. That was also the year our Choral Speaking team, of which I was also a part, won the District and Regional levels competitions. Unfortunately, that was also the year the economy suffered worst from the 1997 South East Asian crisis. We never got to compete at higher level competitions due to lack of funding. Our dreams were dashed and we were utterly disappointed. But the spirit of SFC Choir and Choral Speaking never faded. In fact, it continued to shine for years to come.

Allow me to show off my juniors' performances...hehehe. These were from the 2009 State Level Competition, where they came out 2nd.

Choir Part 1:
Dirgahayu Tanah Airku

Choir Part 2:
Somebody to Love
(They sang the same song my year did!)

Gotta admit, though...the Champion was a lot better! Definitely a worthy winner who I hope made Sabah proud in the National Level. Here's SM St. Joseph, Papar:

The fact is, I was reminded of these choir memories when a colleague asked me to join the department's acapella team to perform in an inter-department talent show. Honestly, I don't think we stand a chance to win anything. But I'm hoping I could relive some, albeit just a little bit, of those old times.

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