The annual National Schools Xinyao Singing and Songwriting Competition is back for its third edition this year, with more attractive prizes and a new programme to promote the appreciation of xinyao, a genre of local Mandarin folk-pop music popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
Apart from cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $1,500, first-prize winners from the contest's three categories - Solo, Group and Songwriting - will each win a pair of economy class return air tickets from SilkAir to Darwin, Australia (solo); Laos (group); and Fuzhou, China (songwriting).
Other top performers will win cash prizes ranging from $200 to $1,000.
The event has also expanded to include a series of music appreciation sessions that will be held in 20 schools islandwide. These sessions are 90-minute concerts featuring xinyao music performances by performers from music event company, TCR music station.
A xinyao songbook has been created for these sessions, where it will be distributed to audiences. It contains the lyrics and guitar scores of 15 popular xinyao songs, including the popular Friendship Forever by Liang Wern Fook.
The music appreciation programme was added to expose more students to xinyao, says Mr Hang Kim Hoo, principal of Jurong Junior College, which is one of the organisers of the event and also a birthplace of xinyao.
Last year's well-received songwriting workshop held at Jurong Junior College will also make a comeback this year at the school. An additional session will be held at St Patrick's Secondary School.
The contest is open to students in secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education. Registration will be from April 17 to May 19 and auditions will be held on May 27. The finals will take place on July 22.
As in previous years, the competition, starting from the preliminary rounds, will be broadcast on Hub E City (StarHub TV Channel 111/825), and contest participants will be featured on radio station UFM100.3.
This year's event is organised by the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning (CPCLL), Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao, Jurong Junior College, TCR music station and film production company, MM2 Entertainment. This is also the first year that CPCLL and MM2 have joined as organisers.
Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Trade, said yesterday at the launch of the contest: "We hope that it will encourage our students to find their own musical voice of expression in the Chinese language.
"When the learning of the Chinese language comes alive through music and even dance, it helps to stimulate the other senses, like reading and hearing. That will strengthen the emotional pull to the language."