Skipping exams for show

'It was difficult for my school as no one is allowed to miss exams, so it was a special concession and I am very grateful to them.'

Matthew Supramaniam (above) on being allowed to miss his examinations at Eton College in England, where he is studying


Skipping exams for show

While his peers will be taking their examinations at Eton College in England, Matthew Supramaniam, 13, will be rehearsing and performing for ChildAid.

The Singaporean is one of two solo vocalists for the concert. The other is 15-year-old Deepti Varathan from the Singapore American School.

Supramaniam was a chorister with St John's College Choir in Cambridge, England, for 11/2 years before joining Britain's prestigious private school of Eton College and its college chapel choir this year.

He will touch down in Singapore on Tuesday to prepare for ChildAid, having been granted an exemption from his examinations which start the next day.

He told Life! that he wished he had a clone so he could do both things, adding: 'It was difficult for my school as no one is allowed to miss exams, so it was a special concession and I am very grateful to them.'

Eton College's headmaster Anthony Little said: 'Eton College is very happy to support one of our boys whose musical skill will help to raise money for underprivileged children in Singapore.'

The end-of-term internal examinations is for the 11 subjects that Supramaniam is taking at Eton.

The boy soprano, who studied at Anglo-Chinese School Junior here until Primary 5, had wanted to attend Eton as it was the alma mater of his maternal ancestors. He attended St John's first to get a taste of English public school life.

Since becoming a chorister, he has sung solos live on BBC Radio 3 and performed in countries such as Denmark and the United States as part of choir tours.

He also sung a farewell tribute to then-President S R Nathan, who was the guest of honour at an Institute of Southeast Asian Studies event in August.

For ChildAid, he will be singing the well-known hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful, with music accompaniment by the National University of Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Supramaniam, who will also miss out on performing at two carol services in Eton and a charity concert in England during the ChildAid concert period, will be staying on in Singapore with his family here after the concert until the start of his new school term next month.

Other than catching up with his family - his father, a corporate lawyer, his mother, who heads the human resource department in the same law firm, and an elder brother who is 18 - and friends, he will be doing revision for the examinations he will miss. His report card will be based on his tests and continual assessments, but he wants to make sure he is prepared for the new term.

Does he feel the trip is worth it among his many commitments?

He said: 'ChildAid is a way of giving back to society. Since I was chosen, it is almost a responsibility to come back for it.'

Ang Yiying