The Band World

Celebrating 50 Years of TK Band

To celebrate its 50 years, TK Band will be presenting their Golden Jubilee concert on 21 June at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Music includes band classics such as First Suite in E-flat by Gustav Holst, Symphonic Overture by James Barnes and Noah’s Ark by Bert Appertmont, all of which played a role in the history of TK Band.

The concert will also see four commissioned works, two by members of TK alumni, Gaius Lee and Derek Oh, and the other two by renowned Japanese composers Yashuhide Ito and Takashi Hoshide

In the final of this three part interview series, The Band Post spoke to the two alumni composers Gaius Lee (GL) and Derek Oh (DO), and their current resident conductor Jovan Neo (JN).


TBP: Why did you conceptualize the celebration as a concert?

JN: Heritage is something important to us and that is why we are holding this Golden Jubilee concert.

TK Band’s success in its past 50 years is no easy feat

We want to celebrate our 50 years legacy sustained through concerts and outdoor marching. The concert is open to everyone, our current students, our alumni, our families and our fellow bandsmen in Singapore.

In fact, our past principals of TK will be coming to this concert. This means a lot to us because it shows that TK Band is still something in their hearts.

TKGS has also accepted our invite to this concert, and we hope to see many of their band students or alumni at the concert to learn about their heritage too.

TBP: Who chose the music for the concert?

JN: Both Lawrence and myself.

Noah’s Ark was significant because we attained our first indoor Gold with it in 2003. First Suite in E-Flat is a band classic which we performed it once in Outdoor and Indoor SYF. March Sunny Island and Symphonic Overture were our SYF’s pieces, and Beauty and the Beast was selected so that the band recruits could be involved.

We also wanted to choose pieces to remember the people and memories of 70s to 80s. There were many pieces that came up and we could not accommodate everything so we arranged them into a medley. These are music from 1998 to 2006, and we will also show pictures and videos onscreen so that people can relate the music to the formations.

TBP: Why has TK Band decided to commission two Japanese composers for this concert?  

JN: In 2012, TK Band went to the Winter Band Festival where Mr Yasuhide Ito gave the band a workshop, and the friendship began from there. When an opportunity came up, we were contacted by Mr Lester Lim and we thought that Mr Ito would be a great choice to write an overture based on “Di Tanjong Katong”.

We also decided to commission Mr Takashi Hoshide to do a rearrangement of Belphegor. We wanted to use a piece that is very close to the Band, and Belphegor is a march that has been with TK Band since its beginnings. As Mr Hoshide has been actively involved with music from New Sounds in Brass, we thought it would be great to add a Samba touch to Belphegor and have it sound more light-hearted and refreshing to the audience.

TBP: What about the two works by Gaius Lee and Derek Oh?

JN: Gaius was commissioned to write a work in memory of Irene Joseph, the first and longest serving music director of the band, titled “Elegy to the Elderflower”, and Derek wrote a piece titled “雾、误、悟”.

TBP: Why did you decide to write the work for the concert? 

[Gaius Lee is a National Arts Council (NAC) scholar, and is now studying BMus in Composition and Music History and Literature at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.]

[Derek Oh has just finished his Diploma in Performance (Composition) from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), and is currently serving National Service.]

GL: When I was approached by Mr Jovan Neo, I was drawn to the prospects of the message that the piece could potentially bring to TK Band.

The legacy that Ms Joseph left behind is still very much felt, manifesting itself in values such as determination, whole-hearted commitment, excellence and fostering a family-like community within the band. The opportunity of writing a piece that celebrates this, so aptly on TK Band’s 50th anniversary, was one that I did not hesitate to take.

TK Band at Irene Joseph’s memorial

Being an Irene Joseph Award winner myself, I wanted to give back to the band, and write a work that would pay homage and acknowledge the impact that the band has made on my decision to pursue a music career.

As Elegy to the Elderflower intends to celebrate the impact that Ms Joseph had made on the band, alumni members are welcome to perform alongside current members to create music that would truly resonate with all batches of the band.

The elder-flower is used in many communities to signify wisdom, compassion and zeal. I chose to represent Ms Joseph as an elder-flower because she confidently displayed these attributes while transforming the band into a formidable one within the region.

Although titled as an elegy, this piece does more than just reflect. It celebrates and commemorates 50 years of the band, its roots and growth. Militaristic characters are heard in the music, alluding the band’s success in the outdoor arena. A musical phrase from the song Stand Up and Fight is used as the climax of this piece, a favourite song that Ms Joseph teaches to her students before a competition.

I hope that the message of this piece would reach all listeners who attend the concert.

DO:  “雾, 误, 悟” literally translates to “mist (uncertainty), error, realization” and it symbolizes the three major stages of school days that I experienced, of which TK band was a huge part of it.

(Wu), represents the initial phase of secondary school life, when I was lost and not knowing what to do. The angular melodic line along with the constant changing timbre draws the directionless movement.

误 (Wu) means “wrong” or going down the wrong path, explores the rebellious phase. The frequent use of dissonances, along with the constant movement sketches the ever moving chaotic mind.

(Wu) represents “enlightenment” or “understanding”, which paints the impression of getting out, and to know.

TBP: Why should people be attending this concert?

JN: I think this concert is special because it not only celebrates TK Band’s success, but it also brings significance to the progression of the band scene in Singapore.

The band movement started out 50 years ago by the late founding father Lee Kuan Yew, with TK Band being one of the forerunners back then. As the band reaches its Golden Jubilee, we also celebrate how the entire band movement has evolved throughout the years, not just in a symphonic or concert setting, but also in the marching band setting.

There will be many interesting performances at the concert itself so it is not just another regular wind band concert where people sit down and watch for the entire duration.

The concert is a show of TK Band’s legacy for everyone.


A Golden Jubilee Concert

21 June (Wednesday)
Esplanade Concert Hall, 7.30pm

Tickets: $30, $25
$10 (Limited student tickets) / $20 (Bulk school purchases of 10 minimum)
Tickets available from tanjongkatongband@gmail.com

Band Post
Band Post

A contributing editor at TBP.

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