New Majulah Singapura recording makes its debut

Members of the Singapore Armed Forces Veterans' League saluting during the flag-raising ceremony and singing of the National Anthem at the 60th anniversary commemoration of the national symbols yesterday at the National Gallery Singapore.
Members of the Singapore Armed Forces Veterans' League saluting during the flag-raising ceremony and singing of the National Anthem at the 60th anniversary commemoration of the national symbols yesterday at the National Gallery Singapore.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Ceremony marks national symbols' 60th anniversary; anthem has higher sound quality than 2001 official version

The new recording of the National Anthem, Majulah Singapura, was played at a flag-raising ceremony and on radio stations yesterday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the national symbols.

The recording is the first update to the anthem since the previous official version was recorded in 2001.

The main difference is that the new recording is of higher quality. This will allow Singaporeans to hear the nuances of the musical arrangement, especially in larger venues with modern sound systems, said the National Heritage Board (NHB). The tempo has also been adjusted slightly.

The ceremony took place on the steps of the former City Hall building, which is now the National Gallery, at 11.20am yesterday.

It was at the same time on Dec 3, 1959, that the anthem, along with the Singapore flag and state crest, was presented to the public for the first time. This followed a ceremony inside the City Hall Chamber for the swearing-in of Mr Yusof Ishak as Yang di-Pertuan Negara, or head of state. He was sworn in six months after Singapore officially attained full internal self-governance on June 3, 1959. Mr Yusof became Singapore's first president after the Republic separated from Malaysia and became independent on Aug 9, 1965.

In a Facebook post yesterday, President Halimah Yacob said the anthem, flag and crest have been "emblematic of the values all Singaporeans uphold".

She added: "As we commemorate this momentous occasion, I hope that our national symbols will continue to unite Singaporeans regardless of race and religion, and foster a sense of pride, loyalty and national identity."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that he looked forward to hearing the new recording of the National Anthem at many more National Day Parades and international sports competitions in future.

The main difference is that the new recording is of higher quality. This will allow Singaporeans to hear the nuances of the musical arrangement, especially in larger venues with modern sound systems, said the National Heritage Board (NHB). The tempo has also been adjusted slightly.

 
 
 
 

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat also said on Facebook that since Independence, Singaporeans have charted their way forward as a successful nation that is open to the world while building a cohesive and multicultural society. "That is why our symbols mean so much to us, representing both our self-determination and aspirations that guide us as we shape our future together," he said.

For the update to the National Anthem, local composers were invited to submit their arrangements. One by Cultural Medallion recipient Phoon Yew Tien was eventually chosen for its grand and inspirational qualities.

The new recording is based on the musical arrangement by Mr Phoon, and the lyrics have not been changed.

The rendition is by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, which also performed the 2001 version. The recording took place on Aug 7 at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

The orchestra was led by Cultural Medallion recipient Lynnette Seah, who also led the orchestra in the 2001 recording. The conductor was Young Artist Award recipient Joshua Tan Kang Ming, who is associate conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra.

The new recording can be downloaded at go.gov.sg/national-anthem for public use, including use by schools and government agencies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2019, with the headline 'New Majulah Singapura recording makes its debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe