Our First Movement, Spring –
Our family of four embarked dauntingly on the orchestral journey with kids’ philharmonic, not long after Ren Cher entered primary school. His first performance debuted in the humble hall of a community centre in his own first full black attire. I was not very impressed that night but together with kids’ philharmonic, he ended every of our weekend with orchestral music and lived every school holiday (sometimes even on a school day’s night) with kids’ philharmonic being the pivot of his life. As a family, we sacrificed many other activities so as to make way for performances, rehearsals and even extra evening practices that were sometimes scheduled at short notices but the training started as far as six months ahead. This is all because we know our President (Mr Lee Hoon Piek), conductor (Mr Luo Wei), teaching team, administrator (Ms Wang Kang), and parent volunteers surmounted countless challenges to make every performance happen beyond the encores, other than the efforts from Ren Cher himself. Rain or shine, and even under the moonlight, be it seated or on the feet, ticketed or non-ticketed, in the park, the open space of a mall or plaza, in a community centre, or the grand and prestigious stage of Esplanade Concert Hall, Victoria Concert Hall, SCO Hall, NUS YST Concert Hall, SOTA Concert Hall, MediaCorp, etc, Ren Cher and his fellow orchestral mates endured and never failed to give their ultimate to the audience.
Our Second Movement, Summer –
Jun 2013 marked an exciting start of the “second movement” of our journey as the orchestra institutionalized itself as kids’ philharmonic@sg and the kids donned their first ultra-smart full black uniform in Esplanade Recital Hall, with Mr Wong Kah Chun as the conductor and Ms Abigail Sin as the pianist. For the first time, we saw our achievements in a long commentary in The Straits Times ! The month after, Mr Luo Wei led us to perform our very first successful “Beautiful Sunday” concert in Esplanade Concert Hall, and in 2016, he shall lead the kids again the fourth time for this concert !
Our Third Movement, Autumn –
In 2015, Ren Cher’s first kids’ philharmonic black uniform was handed over to his younger brother, Min Cher, and they braved performances with kids’ philharmonic in Vienna’s open-space City Hall, the Golden Hall of Musikverein and their music universities, in front of music professors and the public audience. They brought home proudly, the highest award, i.e., the Gold Award from the “The World Orchestra Festival” and “Excellent Conductor” award under the conductor-ship of Mr Luo Wei and dedicated training by Mr Zhang Tong, plus the homely support of Mrs Lee Hoon Piek throughout the journey in Vienna.
Our Fourth Movement, Winter, and……
Ren Cher has seen many members of kids’ philharmonic come-and-go as they went on to pursue their personal ambitions. He made many friends of different ages, and his laughter on every Sunday evening cannot be missed by his teammates, the parents who allied themselves at the back benches to lend their support, the teaching team and Mr and Mrs Lee. Of course, he also had his fair share of reprimand from Mr Luo Wei, or the teaching team such as Mr Zhang Chi and Mr Zhang Tong when he failed to be ready ahead of orchestral practices. But, he was also spurred with praises and encouragements from them to play his violin better the next time.
To tell you that there were no instances when Ren Cher got really disheartened with tears and wanted to quit all future Sunday evenings’ practices is a lie. The years ahead pose greater challenges for us as he is now in upper primary and the demands and expectations of himself, his aspiration to be a doctor and of school life rise. We really do not know if he will upgrade to his third full black suit at kids’ philharmonic. But, it’s no longer a regular practice per se but an emotional commitment and attachment for the four of us, to a practice hall with familiar faces that we see every Sunday.
Nonetheless, we are certain, that, part of what he is today as an outstanding individual in many aspects is attributed to his years at kids’ philharmonic and his blood is now infusioned with music. We are now witnessing significant transformations in Min Cher too now that he took a violin seat in the orchestra, and for those who saw us from day one on this orchestral journey, they will not forget him as the little toddler who had endured every long Sunday practice on the back bench to support his brother and the older teammates.