Maiden NDP gig for home-grown a cappella band

MICappella members (from left) Goh Mingwei, Calin Wong, Peter Huang, Juni Goh, Eugene Yip and Tay Kexin. Their medley of National Day songs caught the attention of PM Lee Hsien Loong last year.
MICappella members (from left) Goh Mingwei, Calin Wong, Peter Huang, Juni Goh, Eugene Yip and Tay Kexin. Their medley of National Day songs caught the attention of PM Lee Hsien Loong last year.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared home-grown band MICappella's medley of National Day songs on social media, describing their work as "ambitious".

This year, the sextet's success has landed them on stage at the Marina Bay Floating Platform where they will perform at the National Day Parade (NDP) for the first time.

"We are very honoured to be participating in this year's NDP," 32-year-old tenor Juni Goh said in Mandarin yesterday.

"We've always been envious of those who had performed at the parade. We had to say yes to this rare opportunity to perform in front of so many Singaporeans on such a prestigious platform."

Soprano Tay Kexin pointed to the success of their video last year that caught the attention of the NDP organising committee.

The video, which comprises a medley of 23 songs including Singapore Town, Count On Me Singapore and We Are Singapore, has drawn more than 250,000 views on YouTube.

Tay, 30, said: "Last year's version was not our first attempt at making a medley of National Day songs but it was the most successful."

The band sings without musical instruments and it has posted videos of the National Day songs it recorded in 2013 and 2015 on YouTube.

 
 
 

For this year's medley, the band has included three more songs - Di Tanjong Katong, Munnaeru Vaalibaa and Singai Naadu. To get the Tamil pronunciation right, alto Calin Wong, 32, had a friend who speaks the language read out the lyrics of the Tamil songs and record them for everyone to learn.

Band leader and vocal percussionist Peter Huang, 36, said: "I hope our Tamil-speaking friends can accept our pronunciation."

The band spent more than 10 hours recording this year's video titled Evolution Of NDP Songs V2.0. The video has attracted more than 20,000 views on YouTube so far.

MICappella also roped in some primary school pupils to play younger versions of themselves in the video. Goh said: "We wanted this year's video to show how we have grown up listening to the songs."

Formed in 2009, MICappella - which includes two other members, bass Goh Mingwei, 31, and baritone Eugene Yip, 36 - emerged runners-up on popular TV singing competition The Sing-Off China in 2012.

In 2015, they became the first Singaporean band to perform at the London A Cappella Festival. The band was also awarded the best Asian album prize at the 2017 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards in the US.

Juni Goh said that rehearsing on the large NDP stage led to some initial confusion as to where each member was supposed to stand but their teething days are over.

"We spent some time getting used to the floating platform," he said. "At this moment, we are ready to give a great performance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2018, with the headline 'Maiden NDP gig for home-grown a cappella band'. Print Edition | Subscribe