Newbies shine in Chinese songwriting competition

Two of Jayne Peh's songs made the winning list in the "Xin Kong Xia" National Schools Xinyao Songwriting Competition. PHOTO: JAYNE PEH
Two of Jayne Peh's songs made the winning list in the "Xin Kong Xia" National Schools Xinyao Songwriting Competition. PHOTO: JAYNE PEH

Sixteen-year-old Jayne Peh Hin Peng has been writing songs since she was 11, but it was only this year that she started penning Chinese songs, inspired by an immersion trip to China at the end of last year.

Even though she was new to this, two of her Chinese songs made the winning list at this year's "Xin Kong Xia" National Schools Xinyao Songwriting Competition.

The competition aims to promote awareness and appreciation of xinyao - a term that refers to local Chinese music culture - as well as ignite students' love for learning the Chinese language through composing Chinese songs.

This year, 336 students from 60 schools submitted 267 entries, the highest number of entries received in six years of the competition. This was in part due to a new category in which participants could submit lyrics to an already-composed tune.

The entries were judged by a panel made up of music industry veterans, with the results announced at a hybrid on-site and virtual award ceremony yesterday that was streamed live.

The guest of honour was Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Education as well as Social and Family Development.

Ms Sun, who also chairs the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning (CPCLL), announced the champion of each of the three competition categories.

Jayne won first place in the Songwriting (Creative) Category, in which students wrote songs drawing inspiration from their Chinese textbooks.

The Nanyang Girls' High School Sec 4 student also placed third in the Songwriting (Open) Category.

As a first-time participant, Jayne said she felt motivated to improve her standard of Chinese.

She added: "I am looking at my fellow competitors and I am in awe of their grasp of the language."

Like Jayne, the champions in the other two categories are first-time participants in the competition.

Mr Lim Kian Hui, 25, a final-year chemical engineering student at the National University of Singapore, was the winner in the Songwriting (Open) Category.

CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School Sec 2 student Zhou Yun Qing, 14, was the winner in the Lyrics Writing Category, in which students penned lyrics to a tune composed by local composer and singer Li Fey Huei, who was one of the eight judges.

Prizes were given this year to 22 students. The competition was co-organised by the CPCLL, Jurong Pioneer Junior College, Lianhe Zaobao and TCR Music Station.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2020, with the headline 'Newbies shine in Chinese songwriting competition'. Print Edition | Subscribe