ChildAid sparkles with youthful energy

My, how you've grown.

The ChildAid concert is into its 10th edition and last night it showed the confidence of its age when more than 200 young performers impressed an almost-filled theatre at Marina Bay Sands with their sleek dance moves and polished musical acts.

It was a whole order of magnitude glitzier than the first show in 2005, which had about 50 performers and which pianist Abigail Sin remembers well.

The doctoral student at London's Royal Academy of Music was just 13 when she performed in the first edition at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre.

"The show is now much bigger and definitely better than before," said Ms Sin, who also played in the charity concert series in 2006, 2009 and this year. "In the past, the concert was done on a much smaller scale."

The opening last night also brought to the stage several other well-known ChildAid alumni, such as pop singer Farisha Ishak, soprano Janani Sridhar and classical guitarist Kevin Loh.

They performed to about 1,500 people, including President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was the guest of honour, and his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, as well as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who was a guest guitarist in one of the numbers.

Mr Wong said: "I'm heartened to see our corporate partners coming forward to give generously and helping to make a difference."

The two-day concert, organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, raised a record $2.327 million for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which helps needy students pay for transport and meals, and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, an initiative that supports arts training for financially disadvantaged students.

In introducing the concert, ChildAid co-organising chairman and Business Times editor Alvin Tay said of the returning talents: "They have done well for themselves on the international stage. It is heartening to note that for some of them, their journey started with ChildAid."

This year's All-Stars Edition tapped the youthful energy of K-pop and the glamour of the Oscars to showcase a range of acts, including a drumming segment and a medley of Disney favourites performed by young vocalists.

In the finale, the entire cast performed the theme song A World To Imagine, specially composed by the late Iskandar Ismail in 2006 and performed every year since. The concert's long-time artistic director, who died from lung and brain cancer on Nov 1 at the age of 58, was involved in this year's concert up to his death.

Since its inception in 2005, the annual charity concert has raised over $10 million. Another two shows will be held today.