Joyful Soirées

Happy evenings of song and dance hosted by and for CapitaLand staff complement the company’s art appreciation programme

Issue: Dec 2015

An e-direct mailer on an upcoming soirée with an image of 17th century Flemish painter Peter van Boucle's still life paintings
An e-direct mailer on an upcoming soirée with an image of 17th century Flemish painter Peter van Boucle’s still life paintings; artworks inspired by or related to food and cooking was covered in a recent art appreciation talk to CapitaLand staff

To celebrate the festive season, CapitaLand staff can look forward to a soirée (the French word for a social gathering in the evening, often with musical entertainment) which offers a mix of art and music – festive card printmaking and Christmas caroling - and a potluck session to celebrate the culinary arts.

Festive Celebration

This soirée, A Festive Feast, will match the theme of the last quarterly art appreciation talk titled “Culinary Arts in Art” which I gave to the staff. This year, our art appreciation talks fall under a series known as ‘The Arts in Art’, exploring art works inspired by or related to the performing arts. We have had ’Literature in Art’, ‘Dance in Art’ and ‘Music in Art’, and corresponding soirées named ‘Words Set to Music’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ and ‘Violin + Guitar’.

What is special about the soirées is that the musicians and dancers leading the sessions are colleagues who are skilled in music or dance and happy to step forward to share their talents and passion with other colleagues. The sessions are designed to be of a sharing rather than instructional nature. The session hosts talk about their instruments, the music or the dance, give demonstrations, and lead sing-along or group-dance segments. Regardless of the titles they hold at work, they assume the roles of musicians or dancers once inside the soirée venue - The Pitstop, CapitaLand’s ‘social pantry’ in Capital Tower.

Session hosts Boaz and Noblia singing 'All I Ask of You' from Phantom of the Opera
Session hosts Boaz and Noblia singing ‘All I Ask of You’ from Phantom of the Opera

Celebrating Dance and Music

Tenor Boaz Boon and Soprano Noblia Lau hosted ‘Words Set to Music’. Boaz, of Corporate Development, revealed how he started his musical journey as a “bathroom singer” and went on to sing in church choirs, ultimately becoming the lead worship singer. He sees singing as a gift which nourishes his soul, "I sing when I'm happy. I sing when I'm sad. It's therapeutic.” As for Noblia, a learning specialist, the journey began in her secondary school choir. After she started working, she joined a Christian choral society. Singing there was hard work but it brought her a lot of joy, and she learned much from its music director who was “a strict teacher with a low tolerance for tardiness”. Noblia describes the euphoria of everyone singing with one heart and soul in a choir as “irreplaceable”.

Champion dancer Sabrina Sim from Human Resource led the dance soirée, assisted by another colleague Ethan. Not long after she started working at CapitaLand, Sabrina signed up for a social dance class at a dance school reputed for producing top dance-sport athletes in Asia. She was so intrigued by the Latin dances that she soon found herself at the studio four times a week, attending not only Latin dance classes but also the standard and social dance classes. She even met her life partner (now husband) there. They took part in their first dance competition after pairing up for a year, went on to win many prizes, and were crowned South East Asian Champion 10 times in competitions organised by various dance-sport federations in the region. “I like the artistry behind dance, which creates a storyline using movement and music," she shares.

Sabrina and Ethan giving an energetic cha-cha demonstration
Sabrina and Ethan giving an energetic cha-cha demonstration

He Yun from The Ascott and my humble self lead the Violin + Guitar soiree. “The violin has been my good friend since young and the origin of my love for music,” says He Yun. Originally from China, she started learning the instrument when she was 10 years old and passed an advanced level exam before coming to Singapore to further her studies. She was a member of the Victoria Junior College String Ensemble and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she joined the NUS Symphony Orchestra as an alumnus to perform in the world’s premier youth music festival in Austria, in which the team won second place.

He Yun and Francis Wong serenade the audience with Ave Maria by Franz Schubert
He Yun and Francis Wong serenade the audience with Ave Maria by Franz Schubert

Celebrating Love & Joy

And how do the hosts feel about leading the soirees? Boaz recalls the experience, “I felt a sense of warmth when telling the audience the stories which inspired the lyrics and music of each song. Singing is not just mouthing words to a tune. We should aim to touch the hearts of the listeners with the original intent of the song.” Noblia shares: "The soirées are a very good platform for staff, where we can gather together in an intimate and informal setting to learn about different forms of the arts and from one another."

Sabrina says: “I enjoyed the participation from the floor. Everyone danced and we are so happy that they liked the session.” He Yun savours every step of the experience: “It was very fun, from preparing the slides about the violin, to choosing and practicing the pieces, to rehearsing. On the actual day, I was quite nervous but eventually enjoyed myself very much.”

As you can imagine, these soirées are all about the sharing of beautiful things in life, touching hearts, giving and receiving, and ultimately, spreading the message of love and joy.

Isn’t that very much in tune with the festive spirit which we will soon be embracing?

This article is contributed by CapitaLand Chief of Art Management, Francis Wong Hooe Wai

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