Concert a real page-turner

Set for ChildAid 2011 is a giant open book where performers will emerge on stage from its pages

A crew of theatre professionals have created an elaborate stage for children's charity concert ChildAid 2011.

The concert theme of Friendship And Hope is embodied in a set that looks like a giant open book. Performers will emerge from the pages, surrounded by silhouettes of trees.

This is the seventh edition of the concert, which raises money for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund.

It is the first time that such extensive staging has been done for the concert. And the professionals doing the job are all volunteering for a good cause.

Mr Jeremiah Choy, 49, director of ChildAid 2011, says: 'We approached it from a theatre point of view and not just a concert. The entire performance will be bound together by the concept of a book, from the programme and invitation cards to the performance.'

The main sponsors of this year's show are Citibank and HSBC Bank. The official venue partner is the National University of Singapore's Centre For the Arts.

Most of the set was constructed off- site and work on the stage at the University Cultural Centre started on Monday.

Volunteer stage designers Randy Chan and Loh Boon Poh, as well as the rest of the crew, had just 24 hours to get the stage ready for a final run of rehearsals.

Despite having to deal with the tight timeline, Mr Chan, 41, is glad to be able to contribute.

The architect, who was also involved in the stage and set design of the National Day Parade this year, says: 'The enthusiasm of the team is really heartwarming. Normally with big groups, there is a bit of tension but everything has been quite smooth sailing.'

Helping out with the concert has also been meaningful for film-maker and artist Brian Gothong Tan, 31, who is the audiovisual designer for the event.

His most memorable experience happened about two weeks ago, when he took a plane to Japan to put together a short film for ChildAid 2011, featuring the Suginami Junior Chorus as well as children from Shakuji Gakuen orphanage in Tokyo.

Tan says: 'There was something about the children at the orphanage that just reached out to you. I was expecting them to be rowdy but they were so well behaved. I was quite touched.

'This is my first time helping out in a charity concert and I was not expecting to be moved, but I have learnt a lot from the children.'

Both the choir and the children from the orphanage performed at ChildAid Asia 2011 in Tokyo in January.

Tan's film will accompany a live performance by a choir comprising all the performers of ChildAid. They will perform a piece titled Bridge Across The Sea by Shigeru Yawata, musical director of ChildAid Asia 2011.

Iskandar Ismail, artistic director of ChildAid 2011, says: 'The children here and over in Japan will look like they are singing in response to each other. We thought it would be a nice gesture and the song talks about how no matter how far apart you are, you can have that friendship.'

cherylw@sph.com.sg