The Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ’s Christmas concert this year was extra special in various ways. The concert celebrated Singapore’s 50th anniversary as well the choir’s own half century of existence.
In the segment when Singapore representatives and heads of foreign delegations hung ornaments on a Christmas tree to symbolise peace, Dr Lee Suan Yew, brother of the late Lee Kuan Yew, placed an ornament bearing the silhouette of Singapore’s founding father against a background of a crescent and five stars.
The concert, held at St Joseph’s Church (Victoria St) on Dec 6, also saw the 80-strong choir singing a Christmas carol for Singapore titled Light to the World, composed by the choir’s founder-director Peter Low.
The concert began with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, interspersed with four short readings from the Old Testament foretelling the birth of the Christ.
This was followed by a dramatic musical presentation of excerpts of Lani Smith’s A Child of Hope, portraying how the voice of sceptics through the ages challenged the promise of Christ’s kingdom of peace. A mime presentation by three children to the carol, Do You Hear What I Hear, then advocated prayer as the ultimate solution to man’s predicaments.
The statue of the Christ Child was then brought in procession by church rector Fr Ignatius Yeo, who was preceded by five toddlers aged two and three dressed as angels.
The decoration of the Christmas Tree of Peace followed, which saw 32 heads of foreign delegations placing ornaments emblazoned with the flag of their respective nations. They included the ambassadors of the United States, Israel, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
Countries represented for the first time were Vietnam, Turkey, Mongolia, Cuba, Chile and Panama.
The ornament for Singapore was placed by Mr J Y Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers. The tree was then blessed by vicar general Msgr Philip Heng.
The concert also saw the choir singing and dancing to a medley of carols from 35 countries in 20 different languages, earning praise from Mr Pillay, who said that “it was a spectacle that could rank alongside the world’s best”.
It was also a night of surprises as the choir presented Dr Peter Low with a special balloon emblazoned with the number 50 to mark the choir’s 50th anniversary.
The choir raised more than $62,000 through the concert for the Cathedral Restoration Fund and the St Joseph’s Church Fund. An additional $8,763 collected that evening was donated to Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS).
The choir had its beginnings as the Youth Choir at the Church of St Michael in 1965. It went over to the Church of the Risen Christ in 1971 and then to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in 2002.