The OBOG Wind Symphony recently performed in Victoria Concert Hall in a concert titled “The Legacy of Nadia Boulanger” featuring works by Copland, Francaix and Bennett on 23 January.
Home to most students who were previously taught by resident conductor Mr Lim Yean Hwee, the group was formed in 2008, originally purposed as an alumni band for ex band members to continue playing and being a part of band. In its recent years, it has steadily seen a number of alumni from other schools join in its projects. Hence, OBOG is now made up of past and present band members from various schools.
Like most bands, a regular EXCO (or executive committee) is required to administer and plan the OBOG’s activities. Chairpersons, librarians, finance officers, logistics officers, and project managers, all on voluntary basis, come together to take charge of particular events. Section leaders are also appointed to help disseminate information to their section members.
In a calendar year, the band partakes in projects, such as guest performances at the annual combined graduation ceremony and concerts of various schools, combined junior bands’ concert, and other school band concerts. The band also gives back to the community in its performances at National Day Observance Ceremonies.
With an active array of projects, what brings the band together is the commitment of its players, who have to put aside their school, work, and sometimes, family duties to rehearse with the band.
“OBOG is mainly made up of Mr Lim’s ex-students who have a strong bond formed by years of music making and the collective experience of performing together in various projects; even amongst members of different schools. We all share a common band culture having been through those years together,” said Perina Chan, who was the project manager for the recent concert.
“Through OBOG, our members can continue their passion in making music beyond schooling years and the familiarity of people that we have been playing alongside for so many years creates a unique sense of belonging. This feeling is indescribable and you will only experience it if you have been committed to this family for a period of time.
Even when some of our players have to travel from Pasir Ris to Jurong to rehearse, or having to sacrifice Saturday afternoons just for OBOG, the joy of creating music together and the ability to relive good old memories to catch up with old (and new) band mates makes it all worthwhile,” she continued.
While it is enjoyable to have fellow friends coming together for a single music purpose, the work of the committee in sustaining the band is not always smooth.
It is understood that attendance issues do occur, especially during certain unfavourable periods such as National Service (NS) enlistments, school exams, and holidays. The committee often tries to overcome such events by proposing projects during the time when most people are available, so that they can secure the availability and commitment of its players in advance. At times, the committee also faces limited funding to do more for the band, but this tight budget has the band treasure their existence more.
Despite such challenges, the OBOG Wind Symphony seeks to establish a stronger sense of identity and also for more to know about them.
“When we were promoting our concert this year, many people were rather unaware of the existence of OBOG and that’s something we hope to change. We hope that with more public concerts and performances, more will be able to learn about OBOG and maybe even be interested to join us,” said Ng Siang Yee, a valuable member of the band.
Librarian Christine Lim Mei Yun also shared a similar thought, expressing her hope that OBOG Wind Symphony can continue to look at more opportunities to share the love of music with more people and hopefully in some way, give back to the community.
As planned in its future projects, OBOG Wind Symphony is lining up a concert either in April or July for the Pioneer Generation, which will feature dialect songs or oldies. They are also considering to be a demo band for a conducting masterclass planned sometime in May.
“I hope that OBOG will continue to grow in size and attract more past and present band members to grow in size. With our efforts and time put in to develop the “life skill” of music making during our secondary school days, I do not think that we should give it up that easily,” reflected Perina.