A. Music please
“Musicians”. The word in Kingsley’s email that captivated me in the invitation to be part of the performing team for the Graduation Night 2015 in June. Looks fine, given my ability in music-performing. What about preparations for AS exams then?
Stuck. Then I consulted Kingsley. He asked my musical qualification and quickly assured me that I would be fine. I later took home the audition pieces like “O You Beautiful Doll” whose technical complexity nearly freaked me out. After half-screwing them during the audition, I told Adeline (person-in-charge and Kingsley’s past student) that I used two-hours to practiced everything and she went “ah you will be fine; the actual pieces weren’t going to be that brutal.” Here came the six keyboard players, two of whom played the percussion, and two guitarists (Kingsley and Mr. Leonard).
El Choclo, to be played upon the arrival of VVIPs
Negaraku, Malaysia national anthem
Abrazar la Aventura (Embrace the Adventure), a delightful Samba&the theme song
A-Level Revel, a pompous Tango on the superiority of A-Levels
Dejenos Partidos (Party song), a Salsa
Dawn of a Great New Day, an inspiring Bossa NovvaTeenage Hardships, a Cha-cha
Amor Negado (Love denied), a melancholic Rumba
Abrazar la Aventura (reprise to the end)
Kingsley chose to compose pieces in Latin, which consumed everyone’s energy like nobody else.
We started our rehearsals in mid May: rather late compared to our counterparts in dancing and singing. Thankfully, that’s when
my AS was practically over (I mean, Physics 2 and Econs 2, the most demanding papers, were over.) That’s also the time, though, when my musical workload piled up as Adeline added intricate running-note passages into my manuscript for later pieces like Rumba and Cha-cha. This added shackles to our striving of perfect accuracy, and that’s not all. Instruction of looking at conductor (i.e. Adeline) highlighted the need for a reference to synchronize our rhythm, and setting the keyboard in advance to manipulate instrumental sound was necessary to run the music in medley form. As I had only involved in solo performance before that, it took me some time to pick up these new skills.
We had no choice but to gradually develop a penchant for sneaking into the lab well before rehearsal sessions to play with the music on keyboard (and to mingle with other performers).
Five days before the performance, the synchronization need expanded to a larger scale as we had our first joint rehearsal with dancers and singers. “We will restart the whole repertoire should there be any glaring mistake in between, and before we could run the whole program smoothly we had to continue our practice, even though the midnight befell,” the producers warned us. Fortunately, we survived the grim reminder, having ‘restarted’ our progam only once. On the morning of the performing day itself Kingsley granted us his approbation on the running through of our program, and we were released at 45 minutes earlier than stated time.
B. The ceremony
We have the tradition of holding the graduation ceremony in June, so July intake students had to attend the ceremony in semester 2. This explains the pseudo part of the post title: we attended our graduation, received our ‘graduation scrolls’ and awards for the night, only to realize that there was still a semester to go after that. We had no choice but to mark the calendar:
Date: 11 June 2015
Venue: Sunway Hotel and Spa
No award suspense on the day, but Ms. Amy did held my heart in the middle in the air when she texted “congratulations” to me mysteriously. Only a few hours later did Mr. Junior Lee cleared my question mark:
“Congratulations for winning the Valedictorian award.”
I held my wide-opened mouth, overwhelmed with surprise. Then I conversed with Ms Amy again and in the end she said “be sure to buy me a meal :P”. I could feel my face blushing even though that was Whatsapp conversation.
The first agenda was our performance as described in A. “This is the last time for us to enjoy this music,” I told myself. I promised myself to do the best, for Kingsley, for Adeline, for my fellow musicians, for my comrades in the performing team, and also for the audience. 15 minutes passed like whirlwind, and feel of accomplishment flooded me as I played the performance recordings. (Kudos to everyone in the team!)
Then went the usual procedure: speech by VVIPs, serving of food, token of appreciation to ALSTAR committee (a.k.a. A-Levels Student Council or ALSCO), giving out of ‘graduation scrolls’ according to classes, presentation of awards, with some other performances interspersing in between.
My winning the “Grand Prize of The Day” meant that I had to give a speech, which had already been fine-tuned by Mr. Leonard. But my whole meta-state of composure was fazed as Kingsley (my mentor) concluded his introduction to me with “his catchphrase is “o* t** f****”, [disclaimer: this isn’t at all vulgar, just funny]: clarion chanting of this exact phrase continued as I ascended the stage. I had no choice but to reinforce my eccentricity by reiterating “testing 1 2 3,” before the real business.
After the ceremony was the time for us to take photos, as always! (A long post, so I will close it with pictures)