Disclaimer: Parts of this write-up is in reference to the information found at http://musicforone.org/?page_id=451 Click on the link for more info.
Asian Youth Choir for One (AYCO) was founded by the Music for One Foundation whom was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trades of Korea to commemorate the 2014 ASEAN Summit Conference that was held in Korea from 11th to 12th of December 2014. The goal of AYCO was to promote performing arts and culture without borders through music by the selected musicians from the ASEAN countries. Prof. Eui-Joong Yoon, a world renowned conductor, was appointed by the foundation as the music director of this event while Prof. Hak-Won Yoon was the lead advisor for AYCO. Prof. Hak-Won Yoon is currently serving as an artistic director of Incheon City Chorale and is known as the father of Korean Choral Music. Their aim was to bring Asia as one unifying voice for peace with this newly united choir of the South East Asian countries.
This international youth choir comprises of 40 musicians, ranging from 20-29 years old from ten ASEAN countries and Korea. Institute of Music, UCSI University was privileged to have 2 of our music students who participated at this international event! They were Sia Pei San (Year 2 Semester 2) and Gan Kee Huong (Year 3 Semester 3). Both are voice majors under the tutelage of Adj. Assoc. Prof. Ian Lim, choral director of the institute. They went through an audition that required them to sing a song prepared by the organizer and also a range test.
This event was held from 21st of November to 6th December 2014. They had rehearsals for about 10 days at Jeju Island. There was a recording session at Hansei University with the KBS Concert Choir and Orchestra on the 3rd of December. The next day, the ‘Song of Asia’ concert was held at KBS Hall, Seoul, which was the main highlight during this event. I am sure both of them had a great cultural exchange and formed friendships during this trip to Korea.
I had an interview with both of them to find out about the thoughts and to share some insight about the trip.
Q: How did both of you felt when you were selected for this event?
Pei San: I felt surprised and yet excited as I looked forward to meet new singers of the AYCO.
Kee Huong: I felt very excited and happy when I was selected for this event as it is a great opportunity for me to explore choral music and to instill teamwork with other fellow musicians from other countries. Not only is this a place to explore choral music but also, to gain more experience and knowledge toward my music journey.
Q: What have you learnt during the trip/event?
Pei San: I learned a lot of the cultures of the other participating musicians from the own countries as they approached music and techniques differently. And to top that, I learnt how to take care of my vocal health despite the 9 hours of rehearsals every day in very cold weather!
Kee Huong: I have learnt a lot from this event. In the 10 days of rehearsals, I have learnt the various vocal techniques that could enhance my own vocal technique. I also learnt a lot from the conductors when they taught us the musicality part for different kind of genres we worked on and also detailed analysis’ of it. Especially from Dr Eui-Joong Yoon, who is well-known conductor in Korea. He was assisted by 2 other great conductors, Mr. Hang-Won Hyun and Ms. Hye-In Kim. All the conductors have good musical knowledge and they taught us how to express in terms of phrasing. During the exchange with the other members of AYCO, we shared our culture and music with each other. I was amazed that each country has their uniqueness in their traditional music. Although some of the music from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia do share somewhat similar styles, but all have their unique interpretations. After a whole day rehearsals, we had extra practices by ourselves as this is the only time where we could study our music, fix any recurring problems together and help each other out whenever needed.
Q: Did this event affected your studies/ your life at that particular time during the trip? How?
Pei San: The event took place during the university’s semester break. However, I was also involved with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s Carmen Festival rehearsals for the semi-staged opera and also caroling performances for Christmas. Therefore, I had to put all of these performances and Carmen rehearsals on hold. Needless to say, there were a lot of catching up to do when I returned to Malaysia.
Kee Huong: Similar to Pei San, I too, had to put Bizet’s Carmen with the MPO and Christmas caroling rehearsals aside. After coming back from Korea, I had to rush to Melaka for the National Classical Singing Competition. I had such a busy schedule and I needed to maintain my condition for both physically and mentally.
Q: Did the things you have learned in UCSI helped you in this event?
Pei San: Absolutely. I think that aural, choir and my major lessons helped me a lot throughout this event, especially when we only had 2 weeks’ to prepare 4 long pieces.
Kee Huong: Yes. It helped!
Q: What was the outcome/conclusion after attending this event?
Pei San: I became a stronger musician in terms of physical and mental discipline, gained confidence, learned professionalism, musicianship skills, and enhanced my communication and interpersonal skills.
Kee Huong: After this trip, I have learned to become a more professional and disciplined musician. Other than that, I know that (what) I need to work on, is to be more detailed in any musical works and also be humble to learn new things and to apply it in my music journey.
This article was written by Mabel Soong, 2nd year student of the B. Music Classical program.