Experience Beethoven's Joy from the man in the street

Many people sing in the shower. Find out what happens when you take an amateur singer out of the bathroom and put him on stage with one of classical music's most recognisable pieces.

This weekend, the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra and almost 300 experienced and newbie musicians and choristers come together for Joy!, a rousing performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which is best known for its Ode To Joy theme.

Music director Adrian Tan says he chose the work as it is "arguably the single greatest piece of music ever written".

"It has a reputation, that every time something bad happens - be it 9/11 or Tiananmen - someone will perform this piece. It has become an anthem of the human kind, to the resilience of the human spirit and the joy that we will always come through," he explains, referring to the tragic events in the United States in 2001 and China in 1989.

While the choice of music is classical, concertgoers should not expect to see the performers dressed in staid formal clothing. Tan has told the amateur performers to wear whatever they feel comfortable in.

In fact, if you spy a troop in Scout uniform on stage, it may very well be the Lim family.

Housewife Tay Hwee Ling, 37, nudges her husband as she says: "The four children and I have been doing performances together, so this guy feels a bit left out. He always claims that he's tone-deaf, but he's not."

Her spouse is Mr Kelvin Lim, 37, chief of the social care division at the Agency for Integrated Care. He says: "For me, it's a new experience because I usually don't sing. Performing with an orchestra is really quite special and I've never experienced music this way before."

Spending a bit more time with dad is also great for the children, Isaac, 10; Leanne, nine; Jayson, eight; and Glenn, six.

When asked what she likes about the performance, Leanne says shyly: "It's fun because usually, we go to choir on Saturday, mummy goes on Tuesday and Thursday, and daddy stays at home the whole time. Now, daddy can be next to us and sing with us too."

Music director Tan says he came up with the community-centric idea of the concert to give people who are working in different jobs, but who love music a chance to experience playing and singing with an orchestra.

"At the same time, we can also attract people who might not be comfortable buying a ticket to a Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert," he says.

The performers have been rehearsing for close to three months and choral director Khor Ai Ming, who is also chorus mistress of Joy Chorale, says she has been pleasantly surprised by the progress and standard of the choristers.

"When we started, we had an open call and invited people from all walks of life - they could be fishmongers, taxi drivers, professors or doctors.

"It's very exciting for me. It's like being a cook and not knowing what ingredients I'm going to have, but only that at the end of the day, I have to produce a dish."

Many of the amateur choristers have had to learn everything from scratch, including how to read notes, behave on stage and sing in German.

Khor says: "Every week, I learn something new about them and it's like teaching a baby how to walk. Eventually, this baby can run."

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