Excited to sing at the Istana

The Singapore Symphony Children's Choir will be performing at the Istana on Labour Day.
The Singapore Symphony Children's Choir will be performing at the Istana on Labour Day. PHOTO: ST FILE

Thirteen-year-old Arjun Chhabra, who is a member of the Singapore Symphony Children's Choir (SSCC) which will be performing at the Istana on Labour Day, has developed a taste for Italian arias.

"I get bored of singing in English; I enjoy learning the different pronunciations of different languages," says Arjun, who counts the aria Pieta Signore as one of his all-time favourites.

"When you research the different songs, you get to learn more about the different cultures too and that's very interesting."

The choir will not be performing Italian numbers, though. The free public performance will include popular tunes such as Ben E. King's Stand By Me and Abba's Thank You For The Music.

It will be the first time the group of 60 young performers, between the ages of nine and 17, is performing at the Istana. The choir, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, stages three to four concerts a year.

Monday's Labour Day show will be Arjun's first outdoor performance with the choir since he graduated from the SSCC's training wing in January this year.


  • WHERE: Main Tent, The Istana, Orchard Road

    WHEN: Monday, 10.45am


Young singers typically join the outfit's training choir before progressing to the concert choir, which is the performing arm of the group.

"It's a beautiful place, it'll be an experience to remember," says Arjun, a Secondary 1 student at Raffles Institution. "There's probably a bit more excitement that comes from it too."

His fellow choir member and schoolmate Justin Teng, 13, is also looking forward to performing in front of a bigger crowd than he has experienced so far.

"It'll definitely be an experience performing at the Istana, it's the home of the President," says Justin, who also joined the concert choir in January.

Among other things, the two are looking forward to meeting President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who is expected to be among the audience at the Istana.

"I've seen him of course, but I haven't been so close to him," says Justin, who predicts that he would be "especially nervous".

The duo anticipate that they have to adjust to performing in an outdoor setting, which often has challenging acoustics.

"If we hear that a friend is going out of tune, we're supposed to give feedback to one another, like to tap him on the shoulder," says Justin.

"Or at least we're supposed to."

Both the boys say they do not mind having to practise more for the performance.

"It's not work to go for rehearsal, it's like a break from schoolwork," says Arjun, who is motivated by the thought that he is performing in front of an audience.

"I want to share the gift of singing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Excited to sing at the Istana'. Print Edition | Subscribe