Choir is more than just singing in harmony – it’s a wonderful opportunity to join forces with other talented voices and create a meaningful musical moment. This year, SPH Lippo Village had the chance to join our very first Asia Christian School Conference (ACSC) Honor Choir Festival held at Morrison Christian Academy in Taichung, Taiwan. Rachel, one of our talented 10th-grade students, got the chance to break out the sheet music and warm up her vocal cords with other gifted singers from Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines!
Upon her return, we sat down with Rachel and talked about her overall experience at the festival, how she discovered her love for music and her future aspirations!
So, what does this mean for SPH’s music and arts initiative? Make sure to read until the end for more insight from our Ministering Arts Coordinator, David Hamot!
ACSC Honor Choir Festival Background: Collaboration, not Competition!
The ACSC Honor Choir Festival fosters a community of young musicians (grades 9-12) from various countries all over Asia. It provides a platform for International Christian Schools to participate in a 3-day musical concert and cultural immersion. During this event, qualified students were given a chance to showcase their God-given musical prowess, collaborate with new friends across borders, and join various masterclasses, which include team-building activities, worship sessions, and rehearsals guided by a guest conductor.
Even though each selected student was chosen based on several attributes, such as skill, capability, and mastery, the ACSC Honor Choir Festival is not a competition. It’s a chance to experience the power of cross-cultural friendship and worship. So, all candidates can leave their worries at the door and immerse in a cultural melting pot of music and celebration. They didn’t need to worry about winning a trophy – the only prize to take home was the joy of participating and sharing their God-given talents with others!
Ready, Set, Sing!: Expectations for Each ACSC Honor Choir Festival Participant
Participation in this event came with a set of expectations that all students had to keep in mind. Above all, students were expected to approach the festival with a respectful and cooperative attitude, and as ambassadors of their country and school, they had to represent themselves well at all times.
In addition, it was essential for all attendees – students, teachers, and chaperones alike – to strictly adhere to the festival schedule and work alongside the hosts and organizers.
One-on-one with Rachel: Discussing Her Musical Experience at the Festival
According to Rachel, being a part of the 2023 ACSC Honor Music Festival and representing SPH LV was both exciting and insightful. Her love for music and arts began when she joined the junior school choir in the 4th grade, so this opportunity was perfect for Rachel, who had a blast learning alongside the seasoned conductors!
“While some of the highlights of my trip were, of course, exploring Taiwan and its rich culture, the true highlight of my experience was being able to impact and touch our audience through the songs that we performed,” said Rachel.
Despite the fun she had while learning and exploring, Rachel had some reservations before joining. The prospect of traveling to a foreign country to take part in an event alongside students and conductors from diverse backgrounds can be intimidating. Upon arriving, Rachel felt uncertain about whether she would be able to connect with anyone or if they would welcome her. To her surprise, everyone proved to be hospitable and made sure that she, as well as other participants, had a delightful experience!
According to Rachel, “The students from the hosting and visiting schools were very friendly and inclusive, which I feel contributed greatly to the harmony and success of the choir. We weren’t just trained through song, but in spirit as well – we didn’t just sing for our audience, but we sang to glorify God.”
We’re thrilled to hear that Rachel had a pleasant time during her experience in Taiwan, but we’re curious to see what’s in store for Rachel’s future musical career goals and aspirations! Turns out this might not be the last time that she participates in the ACSC Honor Choir Festival. Rachel plans to join the next ACSC Honor Music Festival in 2025, which is the year she will be graduating from SPH LV. She hopes to rekindle with the new friends she made in Taiwan as well as other new participants.
“My dream is to become an actress, and one of the places I hope to start my career is on Broadway; by joining the ACSC Honor Music Festival, I am preparing myself for this and honing my skill and confidence through performing alongside a choir,” said Rachel.
Lastly, Rachel shared with us a heartfelt message on what’s kept her going in the school’s choir program for the past few years. She mentioned that through the guidance of her choir teachers, she could incorporate emotions to deliver a more meaningful performance to her audience.
“They taught us how to sing from the heart, how to use an expression to invoke emotion in our audience and to touch them with the meaning of the songs that we sing. As a singer and musician, I value this lesson above all lessons that I have learned throughout my musical journey, and I hope that others can experience this as well,” shared Rachel.
Reflecting on the Value of Art and Music Programs with David Hamot
Following our conversation with Rachel on how this opportunity positively impacted her musical journey, we discussed the importance of these events for our school with David Hamot, SPH LV’s Ministering Arts (MA) Coordinator, and how we can keep the momentum going!
David acknowledges that these events provide SPH with an international platform to collaborate with other like-minded Christian schools in Asia. He also shared the school’s plan to participate in a number of music events in the next 2 years to help students develop their talents.
“In 2024, we hope and will endeavor to participate in Honor Strings Festival in Korea and Honor Band Festival in Hong Kong, Lord willing. As per our senior choir, the MA department looks forward to joining the Honor Choir in Malaysia by 2025,” said David.
Lastly, David shared about the school’s efforts in contributing to the holistic education of our students and why music and arts programs are essential in balancing the student’s academic studies and creative pursuits.
According to David, “Subject offerings like ensembles and after-school programs both prepare our students to participate in this kind of advanced-level music collaboration and exposure.”
Ending on a High Note: Anticipating What’s to Come
Rachel’s exceptional representation of SPH on an international platform has received praise from both music teachers and guest conductors. Her proficiency, passion, positive attitude, and mastery of the repertoire were all commended. Additionally, her success was also attributed to the remarkable support of her parents.
Overall, this highlights SPH’s commitment to supporting our students in their musical and artistic endeavors, as we consider such pursuits crucial and such events instrumental to their learning experiences.