Singapore Youth Festival: Celebrating 50 years

Hand it to them to ring up the accolades

The Fairfield Methodist School's handbell ensemble performing a set consisting of the inspirational You Raise Me Up and the up-tempo Galop from The Comedians Suite at the SYF concert.
The Fairfield Methodist School's handbell ensemble performing a set consisting of the inspirational You Raise Me Up and the up-tempo Galop from The Comedians Suite at the SYF concert.PHOTO: IRENE YONG

Fairfield Methodist School's handbell ensemble may have been launched only seven years ago, but it has already taken part in four Singapore Youth Festival (SYF) arts presentations.

And each time, it achieved the highest award.

The co-curricular activity starts off by auditioning interested students, and hand picking those with a musical background as it would be easier for them to pick up the skill.

In 2010, the ensemble participated in its first SYF with only 22 members, performing with simple instruments.

Today, the ensemble has progressed to having junior and senior groups, and making music with bells, chimes and extra percussion instruments.

"It was a tough beginning, but as their experience in performing grew, their passion grew as well," said Mrs Irene Yong, the subject head of aesthetics.

The handbell ensemble showcased its skills last Saturday at the SYF's Melodies In Every Season, a music ensemble showcase at the Esplanade.

It performed a set consisting of the inspirational You Raise Me Up and the up-tempo Galop from The Comedians Suite.

When asked about the challenges of being in a handbell ensemble, 12-year-old Natalie Leng, who is in Primary 6 and has taken part in SYF twice, said: "When one of us plays the wrong note, the rest of us would get lost. We have to be patient, working together again and again until we get it right."

To prepare for their latest performance, the members practised for around eight months, at least twice a week.

Arielle Goh, 10, said: "Even though we have to come back for extra practices, I have no regrets. I will give it my all and work extra hard because I want us to do our best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'Hand it to them to ring up the accolades'. Print Edition | Subscribe