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Winter Choir Festival

Day 1 - 29th November
A sumptuous lunch offered renewed energy for the fabulous journey to the Victoria Peak, literally the highlight of Day One. For many, this was our first encounter with extreme cold winds,  a parallel of the mounting anxiety and competition fervour. But thankfully the teachers scheduled an ad hoc rehearsal, an unprecedented cancellation of another choral group’s booking, and under Thea Rachel Rezel’s effective leadership, the Committee restored a calm. It was already 10:45pm. 

~ Thea Rachel Rezel’s group

On arrival, we scurried to the entrance, squeezed our way through, awaited eagerly for the tram and in the blink of an eye, were seated and taking in the breathtaking view of the heart of skyscrappers. It naturally sparked instincts to snap photos, whilst embracing the chilly weather. This was a moment, an astonishing view, and something that will be etched in our minds. 

~ Tiffany Janet Odelia Sutanto’s group

Like learning how to use a pair of chopsticks, we quickly adapted to the culture and way of life of the people in Hong Kong. At mealtimes, as tea leaves diffused a sweet-smelling fragrance in the hot ceramic pot, the choir members absorbed facts and figures about the geographical and historical aspects of a tourist attraction, at the Peak. All in all it was a tiring day. But well worth it!

~ Rachelle Marie Chua’s group.

Day 2 - 30th November

The gravity of the competition did not fully sink in until we were changing into our gowns. The growing fears threatened to swallow us whole, but  a little encouragement and nudging from Ms Jennifer Tham (Conductor) gave us the necessary strength. Competition Day was certainly eventful, a rollercoaster ride of emotional ups and downs. We twisted and turned through different situations, but at the end of the day, we can say, CARPE DIEM - seize the day! 

~ Rachelle Marie Chua's group

Day 3 - 1st December

The warmth at Queen’s College
Today we visited Queen’s College and were greeted with friendly bright smiles. We learnt new vocal exercises, and the singing of canons individually that developed our persistence and physical courage. Both schools took turns to showcase competition pieces. IJ was dazzled by their delivery, impressed by the boys’ comfortable communicative skills although English is not their 1st language, and extreme hospitality. On a personal note, I was terribly impressed when one boy accurately identified the high A-Flat I had sung as a soloist in one piece. He had singled this out and it made my day, even if others had not noticed.
~ Lynsie-Rose Da Cruz’s group
What we love about Queen’s College
Accosted by their buffet of choice for a wide array of co-curricular activities and clubs, Choir members were particularly impressed by the astronomy society, especially the eye-opener into how some boys cast aside personal free time for a closer study and admiration of the movements of the sun. We still recall the cramped room, the scientific equipment, the narrow stairs and the school’s rooftop. The porcelain-white dome-shaped structure continues to impress hours after the in-house tour only because it contains the biggest telescope in Hong Kong, a gift their alumni so generously sponsored, to create golden opportunities for the study of this intriguing subject!
~ Vanessa Ng’s group
A female perspective of a male domain
The visit is akin to stepping into the twilight zone, a complete 180 degree turn. There was for instance great difficulty in locating a female toilet, and we understood how male teachers in IJ felt. The experience with the boys, with tenor and bass parts, gave us a 1st in achieving that fuller wider spectrum, creating a proper Soprano Alto Tenor Bass sound, more resonant, vibrant and unified!
~ Andrea Mae’s group
Convent Girls at Queen’s College
Initially awkward, we discovered that behind the façade and gender difference, CHIJ and Queen’s College are similar, deeply passionate and harbouring musical ambitions. The whole visit was truly enlightening, offering a delightful glimpse for Convent girls into life at an all-boy’s school. 
~ Gracella Quintessa Sumarlin’s group
Benefits of the Workshop by Mr Augustinas

Workshops provide golden opportunities to learn from renowned members of the Jury. They provide greater understanding of skills, such as independency, perseverance and courage in singing. He reminded us that making mistakes is part and parcel of learning new things. The workshop assured us that learning is never boring, but continues to be fun, a reality and an overall enjoyable experience.  
~ Kyra Lim Kaile’s group

Truly a Night to Remember : GOLD and TOP CHOIR for Equal Voices Under 16

The pulse and irregular beatings of the heart and flow in our veins were keen reminders of a desperation to excel. Sweaty palms, weak knees and joined hands actually provided much needed support as awful thoughts raced through our brains. What if we did not do well? What if we did not meet the expectations of all at home? You cannot imagine the relief when the self-induced nervous stance gave way to triumphant smiles. FIRST IN OUR CATEGORY A2 : UNDER 16’S.  GOLD!  An astounding 85.6 points!  This night was definitely one deeply etched in our minds and our hearts. Forever! Will not ever forget! 
~ Nadya Png Qing Ling’s group

Awards Ceremony :  GOLD and TOP CHOIR for Equal Voices Under 16

The long-awaited moment had arrived! Rousing performances with participants of various choirs  and a 15-minute intermission added to the stress! What a welcome change though when the boys from across the auditorium sped up to us, when we snapped countless photographs depicting precious friendships forged through priceless moments in song, at the Queen’s College visit, one day earlier. They missed us, or perhaps they missed our girls with special talents. In the midst of laughter, the student conductors were invited to step on stage and the entire theatre came to a standstill, as all waited with baited breath, hoping for the best results. We cheered! We rejoiced in that single moment when we received the GOLD! The IJ school flag found itself in the hands of helpful members who shouted and yelled. It was our moment! We doubt if the teachers even minded that we were displaying traits undeserving of the young woman of distinction! The choir did realise though that we could not have reached the end of this journey without the help of Ms Jennifer Tham and all our teachers. 
~ Anastasia Kurniadi’s Group

Heartiest congratulations to the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Secondary Choir in achieving the Gold award at the Winter Choral Festival Category A2 - Equal Voices 16 years and below. Top choir in Category A2.

Day 4  - 2nd December 

Christmas Magic at Disney

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be given the opportunity to carol at the happiest place on earth! We experienced Christmas magic first-hand, an experience that only Disneyland can provide. It was everything about it – from the humongous Christmas tree, decked out in fairy lights, to the smallest Christmas-themed keychains in gift shops – that provided this special feeling for IJ Choir. Disneyland practically radiated with the spirit of Christmas! This was one fantastic feeling of extreme happiness felt the instant you crossed Disney gates, with eager anticipation awaiting for that stage performance of a life-time. It was December and the magic of Disney coupled with the X’mas carols touched all including our teachers. We completely, and absolutely treasure this experience – X’mas carolling on a Disney stage, and indulging, reliving childhood fantasies at heart. The whole choir will never ever forget this extremely wonderful journey for IJ Choir!  
~ Andrea Mae’s group

Day 5 - 3rd December

Thoughts from our international students

The story of Hong Kong

What can I say? This learning journey has broadened horizons and given me new perspectives. It has brought me face to face with new knowledge, varied cultural norms, wider social communities and equipped me with the newfound awareness of a foreign student from Indonesia, that we respect all the people we come across, and learn to work hand in hand. Moreover, the fact that we anchored the Gold, and performed in Disneyland, is simply unforgettable – nay, unbelievable! Never had I imagined that by coming to Singapore, we would be given the added opportunity of an overseas trip. Hence, the foreign students and myself would like to send thanks and our deepest gratitude to all our teachers who worked so hard to make this a reality and rare experience for scholars like me. 
~ Laetitia Sherry Purnama

A Trip to Remember  - From A Foreign Student

When I came to Singapore, and first joined the Choir, it never once crossed my mind that I would be given an opportunity to participate in an overseas competition, perform at Disneyland, and do a cultural tour of Hong Kong. I understand that this is a once-in-a-life-time chance and Disneyland is the happiest place on earth! Initially I was full of doubt, my mind filled with droplets of water dripping, sporadically out of a broken tap, with all kinds of broken thoughts that forced me to question my personal readiness  - to wake up to exercise and run by the river at 6am, to refrain from fried food, to bear adult responsibility for the glory of school. Eventually with the support of my teachers, especially for the Indonesian scholar with fears, I adapted. Quickly.  All I can say is it fostered deep bonds with fellow choir girls. It is a 1st for me returning with the GOLD on an international platform and this will stay with me forever. Our special appearance as a X’mas carolling group on the stage in Disneyland, has secured the magic of Disney, and I will never ever forget this beautiful experience. 
~ Andrea Mae

A Memorable First Overseas Choir Trip 

It is an unbelievable experience, a golden opportunity, to attain the Gold at the Winter Choral Festival and perform at the Hong Kong Disneyland. This trip, packed with ups and downs, overcoming obstacles and staying united as a team, has ironically won me many many choir friends. This was something I had not anticipated initially. 

Moreover, as an international student from Indonesia, this learning journey provided me not only with a zest and thrill for life, it offered the proper perspective about school and life in general with students from another country, another culture and a different approach!
~ Gracella Quintessa Sumarlin   

My First CHIJ Choir Trip 

It certainly has all the characteristics of an exciting, enriching and fun-filled experience. Never once when I arrived in Singapore from my home country, did I imagine I would be performing at Disneyland - the place where everything continues to be so magical! I cannot capture the depth of my gratitude for the chance to play my role as a committee member in the choir. Working alongside fellow Singaporeans, has actually changed how I view “hardwork”, and changed this to “teamwork”. Honestly the choir members’ dedication and determination to exercise in the mornings, to revise the music thereafter, inspires me to give even more of my best.  Despite the immense anxiety and stressful moments especially on the eve of competition, we worked.  As a team.  As a choir.  As a Singapore group all out to realize the fruits of our efforts in the attainment of a Gold! 
~ Anastasia Kurniadi

So blessed!

“Blessed” is the only word that completely describes my whole experience with the IJ Choir. The route of the IJ chorister is not easy. It is not far removed from the truth to say, the choir member’s life is full of sweat and tears, but akin to the mixer bowl , there is laughter, joy and challenges in the bowl of salad, deliciously mixed together in no fixed ratio to give that palatable taste at the end! You go for a second helping because it tastes so good!  Today, my finger traces the outline of the geographical wall of the city of Hong Kong, and I realise how sacrifices have paid off, and every second spent at choir is worth all the academic lessons in class. I have understood true friendship, appreciated diversity with the Queen’s College Choir, and Ying Wa College, forced myself to use the chopsticks instead of the fork and spoon, and am none the worse for this experience.  I am truly blessed for the opportunity to stand on the competition stage of another country, to bear the IJ Chorister Jacket, and don the now famous gown.  I am blessed that with the IJ Choir, I feel at home, despite the daunting fact that my family is millions of miles away in Indonesia. 
~ Irene Lie

My first CHIJ  Choir trip 

It has been enriching, acquiring new amazing experiences, bonding with the choir girls, and obtaining the GOLD!  The choir earned top marks in the category for Under 16, and this in itself is a feat! To be honest it was initially quite scary as this is my first experience going on an overseas competition. I had several challenges throughout, such as having to control my nervousness, waking up to run at 6am by the freezing river, in an extremely cold winter in Hong Kong,  to master the art of calming my nerves before stepping on an international stage, and recalling all we had learnt. It was both an honour and a challenge with the collective prayer which I was assigned to do, and to lead on a daily basis, for safety, for competition and a focus for those minds who were not quite “there”.  All in all I have learnt so much, and have enjoyed the time spent with all choir members. I appreciate their help.   
~ Theresia  Agustine Santoso