SINGAPORE - With guitar in hand, singer Nathan Hartono is filming for ChildAid 2020 - Virtually Yours. In keeping with the times, the seasoned singer is performing not in front of a large audience, but a handful of production team members at NoonTalk Media's studio.
For the past few months, intense preparations have been underway for the virtual fund-raising performance organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times that will air on July 15.
The concert's artistic director, Jeremiah Choy, says it has been a steep learning curve.
"Because of the situation right now, artists are going online with their choirs and concerts. I looked into how the audience consumes this content and set out to create a show that brings the concert home to them," he says.
The concert, traditionally held at the end of the year, was brought forward to July to help those impacted by Covid-19.
The show aims to raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF), which helps about 10,000 disadvantaged students pay for their meals and transport, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which supports lessons in the performing and visual arts for 1,000 financially disadvantaged children who are artistically talented.
Both funds have been actively supporting families affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Singapore.
This year's concert also marks two key milestones - The Straits Times' 175th anniversary and STSPMF's 20th anniversary.
Choy says: "We originally planned it as a November concert but as March came around, we realised the spread of Covid-19 was worsening. By April, we were getting requests for help. We decided to move the concert forward because we wanted to start raising money for our beneficiaries.".
Helping to make the show a reality are main sponsors UOB, UBS and Citi.
Noting that 2020 has been an unprecedented year, UBS Group AG and UBS AG Asia Pacific president Mr Edmund Koh says UBS wanted to do its part to empower children and youth to pursue their dreams.
"ChildAid provides an excellent platform to fulfil this vision of empowering our children to use their special gifts and talent to make a meaningful difference to other children in our community," he says.
"We hope more people will tune in to this first ever virtual ChildAid concert and generously donate to this meaningful cause to help fulfil the aspirations of our future generation in Singapore," he adds.
UOB's head of group commercial banking Eric Tham says this year's concert will help draw people together in a time of physical isolation and to look forward to better days ahead. "As a long-term supporter of ChildAid, we are happy to help young people, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, pursue their passion for art and contribute to the vibrancy of Singapore’s society," he adds.
While some of the show's items were recorded remotely, the team was able to record a few artists in person at NoonTalk Media's studio this month as Singapore entered phase two.
Choy says: "Filming during a pandemic requires you to have Plans A, B, C and D. We weren't sure when phase one or two was going to take place, so a lot of the recording was done at home with instructions from us. By the time we got round to shooting segments for Nathan Hartono, Jasmine Sokko and Benjamin Kheng, we were able to do so in the studio."
Marrying talent and technology, he wants to give the audience an unforgettable experience. The show will feature a diverse line-up of young artists like Heema Izzati Zainudin and Syah Riszuan as well as Singapore's veteran musicians such as jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro and chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra Wong Kah Chun.
The concert will be a 360-degree immersive video and aural experience which features 8D audio technology.
VIEW IT/CHILDAID2020 - VIRTUALLY YOURS
WHEN: July 15, 8pm
HOW TO DONATE
Readers can donate through str.sg/donatetochildaid, PayNow (UEN Number: 201408699H, enter CA20 and NRIC and contact numbers in the reference field) or by cheque, made payable to "ChildAid", indicating name, NRIC number and address at the back of the cheque. The cheque can be mailed to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, 1000 Toa Payoh North, Singapore 318994.
WATCH THE TRAILER
Catch a sneak peek of the upcoming concert.
The one-minute trailer gives a glimpse into the concert's 360-degree virtual experience and is best enjoyed using headphones to experience the 8D audio technology.