08 Jul 2018
Excellencies, High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Charge d’Affaires, Distinguished Guests
The Graduate Singers led by Ms Germaine Tan, who would be performing for us
1 I am delighted to welcome all of you to the Singapore High Commission for a special choir performance. The Graduate Singers are a Singapore-based, multinational choir, with Singaporeans at their core, and members from ASEAN and beyond. Their members are working professionals, not fulltime singers. Though established only in 2010, they have won recognition and awards around the world. The choir recently competed in the 5th Vietnam International Choir Competition and emerged champion in the chambers category. The choir has staged concerts in Tokyo, at the Suntory Hall, and was the first Singapore choir to be part of the Distinguished New York Concert Series.
2 The Graduate Singers are visiting South Africa to participate in the World Choir Games. The Singapore High Commission strongly encourage Singaporeans and Singapore-based organizations to visit Southern Africa to discover for themselves the beautiful countries and their friendly peoples. Our reception for The Graduate Singers is a small part of this effort to broaden the people-to-people ties between Singapore and ASEAN and Southern Africa.
3 It is also our modest support for South Africa in its hosting of the World Choir Games. While the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia has a bigger audience, the World Choir Games have more participants, some 16 500 from over 60 countries, vying for the prestigious title of the “Champion of the World Choir Games”. Music and Songs have a special place in South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid. Struggle songs were used to unite the people and lift their spirit in the fight against oppression. There were other songs inspired by the Struggle. The late jazz legend Hugh Masekela composed the hugely popular “Bring Him Back Home” after he was smuggled a letter from Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned on Robben Island. It is opportune that the World Choir Games are being held in South Africa as it celebrates the centenary of the birth of President Nelson Mandela and Stalwart Mama Albertina Sisulu. If The Graduate Singers could learn one or two Struggle Songs to take back to Singapore, in addition to sharing our music with the South African audience, it would help immensely to promote mutual understanding and bring our peoples closer.
4 To conclude, I would like to thank The Graduate Singers for offering to serenade us this afternoon. I would also like to wish them the best of luck in the competition and a pleasant stay in South Africa. Thank you very much.