SINGAPORE - Though they are isolated in different rooms, a cross-balcony collaboration was born on Tuesday evening (March 31) between two musicians who are on stay-home notice at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa.
Ms Jaz Loh, 22, struck a chord with many, after a video of her playing a stirring rendition of Home on her violin from her hotel room balcony made the rounds on social media on Monday.
The third-year student who is studying dentistry in England’s Newcastle University, returned to Singapore on March 26 with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Singapore Airlines.
In an interview with The Straits Times, she revealed that she was inspired to perform Home by a fellow stay-home notice resident who has been playing the Chinese flute, or dizi, from his balcony every evening at around 6pm.
“He does it every evening around 6pm, and everyone comes out to watch him play and claps for him. We may not be at home, but it brings out the kampung spirit,” she said.
Egged on by her Instagram followers who asked her to duet with him, she asked him for his room number on Tuesday evening, called his room and set up a live collaboration on the song The Moon Represents My Heart, by Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng.
They both played from their balconies at around 6.30pm, drawing applause from fellow stay-home notice residents, who also emerged on their balconies to watch them perform. Ms Loh said they chose the song because “it’s the only song the both of us knew”.
She said that the man identified himself as “Uncle David”, a 69-year-old tailor who is working as a tailor in England, but returned to Singapore because of the lockdown triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. He plays the dizi as a hobby, and is self taught.
“He told me that he will listen to a song over and over again until he is very familiar with it, then he will play it, she said. Ms Loh has played the violin since she was five years old.
Earlier on Monday, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa posted on its Facebook page a two-minute long video of the violinist playing a rendition of Home, which has garnered over 43,000 views, and has been shared by the likes of former foreign minister George Yeo.
“I feel it’s a song with a lot of meaning, and one that everyone would recognise and relate to,” said Ms Loh.
“Even as Singaporeans abroad, the song brings us a sense of comfort and familiarity while being in a foreign country.”
The reaction from the public has been unexpected and overwhelming.
User Tien Goh was among those who commented, saying: “Personally, I really like this song very much. Pulls my heartstrings and feel so emotional every time I hear it. Almost teary kind of touched. Together, we will get through this. #SGUnited”
Ms Loh said: “I took out my violin to play as a tribute to the workers and to entertain my fellow stay-home notice friends, and also because I’ve been cooped up here for a few days, but I really did not expect it to blow up like that.”
It was also to send the message to Singaporeans “that the least they can do is to stay home”.
She added: “As a young person, I had the perception that we’re not susceptible to this virus - but this virus doesn’t care about your race, your age or your gender.
“We are asked to do our part and stay home to stop this virus from spreading. It’s nothing compared to what the front-line workers are doing for us, selflessly putting themselves at risk everyday.”
Ms Loh is no stranger to music: An older sibling plays the violin professionally, while two others play the piano and cello recreationally; and she had performed at ChildAid in 2012.
The concert raises funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, both of which aid students from low-income families.