Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Macau’s children’s choir takes on new recruits

Posted by Kimberly on June 25, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 25, 2007, page 4 (767 words)

The Cultural Centre held its auditions for the children’s choir yesterday, resulting in about eight new recruits.
According to Vanessa Leao, Music Director of the Macau Cultural Children’s Choir, “some of them are quite good and actually I think the average standard of the students is getting better than last year.
“Although the number of applicants is not too much some of them can sing and can interpret the music quite well, so I’m quite happy this time,” she said.
Potential applicants had an opportunity last week to sign up to audition with most of the auditions now completed.
“We still have four or five next week because they couldn’t come this week,” said Miss Leao.
There were several steps to the process of auditioning that the children were required to go through.
“First I asked them to sing a song of their own, maybe something from their school or from TV. “Then I could see through their song the way they interpret the music and their confidence in singing. And you can see that. Sometimes they can sing from their hearts so they move their body and have lots of emotion.
“The second part is that I let them sing some melodies. I’d play or sing and they would respond and then lastly, I would sing actual songs with words and then they needed to follow me so I could see their response and their ability in learning the music,” said Miss Leao.
The choir so far comprises of about 42 children who rehearse each Sunday for two hours.
“During this period I will give them some time to learn the theory of music and music appreciation. “Then from week to week I will let them hear choirs from different ages around the world, maybe children’s or youth, to inspire them more.
“Sometimes I will have some creativity exercise for them and that can improve their body’s rhythm in music and they like these exercises a lot. Mainly I will train their voice, to be healthy and beautiful,” said Miss Leao.
Joey Ng waited nervously for her son, 11-year-old Jacky Ng, to complete his audition, singing ‘Proud of You’ but was relieved he was willing to take this opportunity.
“I wanted him to try. He didn’t want to try anything new. He just wanted to stay at home and watch cartoons and play games. So I wanted him to go out more,” she said.
Asked whether she thought her son had any singing ability, she said “every parent thinks their children have talent.”
She revealed that Jacky was fine when they went to church in the morning but that an hour before the audition, he became very nervous.
“You could see his face becoming red,” she said, adding that “he likes singing so I told him to do it. If he fails he can have the experience, no big deal.”
Miss Leao admits that she prefers to train young children as opposed to the adult choir she works with at the Macau Polytechnic Institute.
“To train an adults choir means having people who already have experience, a background in singing so they may already have some bad habits so I need to train them and help them to get a good voice.
“With children, because they may have a lack of experience in singing, sometimes it’s better for me to train them because they are just a black sheet of paper and I can add colour. Then they respond to me quite fast.
“To train a children’s choir is quite interesting and quite satisfactory for me,” she said.
The children’s choir has already sung with various other choirs over the past few months, including a charity concert in May and an inclusion in the first Inaugural Concert of the Macau Choral Association in June.
“In that there were 13 choirs from all over the world because they invited choirs from the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
“We were the only children’s choir they invited. The children sang quite good and the audience liked us a lot from what I heard!” said Miss Leao.
There are also plans for the choir to travel to Taiwan and Mainland China to perform next year.
“I’ve told the children already and they are very excited about it
“I think this is a very good opportunity and a chance for them to go abroad and see places,” she said.
The Cultural Centre is in the process of negotiating a joint concert with the Hong Kong choir in August and is expected to make an announcement soon.

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