AS PART of a growing relationship with the people of Xiamen, China, the Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church (PLCMC) Orchestra recently performed with the Qing Shao Nian Gong (Children and Youth Palace), a prominent music school in the Chinese city.
Under the direction of Mr Ong Koe Pho, the orchestra sent 37 students, along with several music teachers and parents. A ministry of the church, the orchestra attracts many promising youth musicians from the community.
The Xiamen concert, on March 11, was the second joint concert between the two groups.
In the first concert, in August 2005, the Xiamen school sent its young musicians to Singapore. The orchestra, directed by Mr Choong Shiao Ming, and the choir, directed by Madam Khou Mei, held a joint concert with the PLCMC Orchestra at Mrs Lee Choon Guan Concert Hall at ACS (Barker Road).
Sponsored primarily by the Lee Foundation, the concert was for the benefit of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital and Nursing Home.
The latest concert was held at the Gu Lang Yu Concert Hall in Xiamen. The two groups played a variety of Chinese and Western favourites, including “The Sound of Music”, “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Radetsky March”.
The Rev Chong Chin Chung, Pastor-in-Charge of PLCMC, commented that its church members have a strong interest in Xiamen because “this is their parents’ hometown”. “That is why,” he added, “our Xiamen hosts used the title ‘Root-seeking Trip’ for this event.”
The roots of this relationship began when one of the Xiamen teachers, Ms Song Xiao Ling, visited Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church in 2004 and began building bridges of friendship.
Many of the Singapore students have continued to build bridges by making friends with the Xiamen students. Following the concert in Xiamen, the combined orchestra and choir were given the opportunity of playing for the worship service at the Gu Lang Yu Trinity Church, whose pastor, the Rev Hao Chee Keong, is a graduate of Singapore’s Trinity Theological College.
In addition to the performances, the PLCMC Orchestra toured portions of the region, including the Xiamen University and Ji Mei Village.
Of special interest was a visit to the home of Tan Kah Kee (now a museum), founder of the university, and father-in-law of Singapore benefactor, Lee Kong Chian. After developing his business interests in colonial Singapore and Malaya, Mr Tan returned to his native Fujian province in the 1920s to establish the university.
The whole trip was a valuable experience for building “musical bridges” of friendship between Singapore and China.
The Rev George Martzen is Minister Attached to The Bishop’s Office.